It’s easy to agree that we need to bring an end to inequality, but it’s important to think about how we do this. Inequality is not just about money but about the power that we have in society to make decisions that affect us and others. If the decisions about who receives money is in the hands of those who already have money and other advantages in society, then are we really challenging inequality? Could sharing out money and resources in a fairer way now mean there is less need for charity in the future?
Bristol Redistro was set up in February 2020, with an aim to raise money to give to grassroots community-led groups in Bristol who might otherwise struggle to get funding, and who are working on an issue that affects them directly. We started as a small group of people who felt they had more money than they needed and wanted to use that money to make positive change. We didn’t want to follow what funding organisations normally do, where money is given away but the decision-making power remains in the hands of the more privileged. We wanted to make the application process simple for groups without a lot of resources or paid staff, and to invite groups who had been funded previously to make decisions about who receives money in future funding rounds.
One of our main inspirations was Edge Fund, a participatory fund which involves its members and previously funded groups in the decision-making process. We wanted to encourage people to share their wealth, and to develop a process where decisions are shared by everyone, not just those who already have money.
For our pilot round, we decided to provide small grants of up to £1,000. We had originally planned to finish the process with a day where all the shortlisted groups would come together to get to know each other, and then take part in a voting process to decide how much each group would receive (similar to the Edge Fund funding day). This event had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and so we decided to hold the meeting online via Zoom on 7 June 2020. This decision meant we had to change the planned process for the meeting, as we didn’t feel able to make everyone feel comfortable enough to vote on projects in a shorter online meeting. As we had enough money to give all shortlisted groups the full amount requested, we used the time as an opportunity for the groups to get to know each other and their work, to get feedback on the Redistro process and to talk about groups being involved in shortlisting in future, how that might work and what the barriers might be.
In this first round we gave out £6,350 to seven grassroots community-led groups in Bristol. Having held the first funding day and given out the cash, we are now planning the next stage of the project – another funding round, but also more conversations about how people with money can share it fairly, how funding works and how we can bring an end to the usual ways that money in given out in society, that gives the power to those who already have power and advantage over others because of their wealth, class, ethnicity and other factors.
To be true to the aims and values of Redistro we agreed that we could not have another funding round unless people came forward to make the funding decisions. If the existing team had to make the decisions next time we’d be going against our original aims and values. So we're very happy to say that people from the groups that received funding in the first round will be making the decisions in round two. We'd love to have more people on board and are open to others being involved too. If you’d like to see Redistro continue to raise money for grassroots community-led groups, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07784 771 272.
Groups funded in the first round:
Cables and Cameras - events-based community project creating a hub and outlet for Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) filmmakers and creatives in Bristol to showcase their short films/sizzler reels. (£850)
Filwood Community Markets - organising and running community markets to challenge the unfair power structures of government and finance that cause the inequalities and injustices of poverty and lack of opportunity that are felt in the Filwood/Knowle West area. (£1,000)
Mandem - a media platform that offers a unique space for young men of colour to express themselves creatively, primarily through writing film and music. (£1,000)
Millions Missing - regional contingent of the international ME Action Millions Missing awareness campaign, campaigning for health equality for sufferers, most of whom are largely neglected by the medical profession and society. (£1,000)
No More Exclusions - Black-led grassroots coalition group striving for an inclusive education for all and the total abolition of exclusions in schools in all its forms working to end the systemic inequalities faced by black children within this system. (£1,000)
Phoenix Song Project - therapeutic voicework groups providing a space for trans and non-binary people to explore, experiment and play with their voices away from binary and cis-normative expectations encountered in wider society. (£1,000)
Vision BAME - collective voice of the BAME community of Hartcliffe & Withywood and Knowle West. (£500)