Brent Solidarity Fund gives small cash grants to anyone in Brent who is struggling for money, to help people buy the things they need. It’s organised by people from Mutual Aid groups across the borough. The fund has been running for nine months now, since we first opened for applications in September 2020. In that time, we’ve been able to make about 330 individual grants to people living in the borough, totalling £13,500.
The idea behind Brent Solidarity Fund is to get cash to people quickly and simply, without lengthy applications and without eligibility conditions. Money from the fund can be used for anything and doesn’t need to be paid back. To be eligible for money from the fund, a person simply needs to be living in Brent. The fund is built on trust and respect: we think that people who need the money are the best judge of what they need it for. And we don’t think that just being in a position to give money to someone else should mean that a person has a say over how other people live their lives. We believe that more money should not, for the purposes of this fund, equal greater power.
We are able to run the fund in this way by working with local mutual aid groups. To process a solidarity fund application, the organisers in Mutual Aid groups just fill in a very brief form and send it through to the solidarity fund team. Then, the person who’s getting the money makes a claim directly through the Brent Solidarity Fund page on the Open Collective website: https://opencollective.com/brent-solidarity-fund. (We use the Open Collective platform to distribute and raise money in a transparent way.) The cash is then transferred to that person’s bank account.
Crucially, by organising the fund with local mutual aid groups, we are also able to make the fund open to people without bank accounts and to people who don’t have access to the internet or aren’t able to use the Open Collective website. Mutual Aid groups can help people make the Open Collective application, or make it on their behalf. Being able to operate the fund in this way is fundamental to our aim of making sure that housing or immigration status are not a barrier to a person accessing the fund.
We want cash from the Solidarity Fund to be an immediate form of assistance to our neighbours, whether by itself, or combined with other support from friends and neighbours or organisations. Local Mutual Aid groups have been instrumental in helping to set people up with other kinds of financial support, as well as aiding in the navigation of bureaucracies, and offering practical help and food aid. Brent Solidarity Fund is just one part of this activity.
The fact that Brent Solidarity Fund is able to continue is down to consistently amazing fundraising work by people in Brent – like the events organised by Mapesbury and Kensal Green mutual aid groups described in this post, and other projects which you can read about here.
The fund relies on donations to keep us sustainable. Regular contributions are the most useful because they make it much easier for us to plan. If you would like to support the fund and you don’t already do so, you can set up a monthly donation through our Open Collective page. We suggest one hour’s wage per month: https://opencollective.com/brent-solidarity-fund#category-CONTRIBUTE or for one-off donations, you can donate through our Local Giving page, with Gift Aid: https://localgiving.org/charity/mutualaid/project/brentsolidarityfund.