The Churchill Fellowship Annual Report

Annual Report

Introduction

The Churchill Fellowship is a community of 3,800 changemakers developing new solutions for the UK’s most pressing problems. Fellows are funded to research global best practice on practical issues anywhere in the world and are then supported to use those insights to inspire change in their communities or professional sectors across the UK.

Our 2021 Annual Report outlines the Fellowship’s achievements over the past year.

Helen Woodcock (CF 2010) received a 2021 Activate grant to develop a community farm in the north-west of England as a farming blueprint for the future.Download image

Summary

Responding to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

As Covid-19 continued to affect the nation, our focus and funding remained on supporting Fellows’ UK projects to mitigate the effects of the pandemic throughout society. We awarded a second round of grants from our Covid-19 Action Fund in December 2020, totalling £302,000 for 32 projects. These Covid-related projects provided emergency help or longer-term recovery measures for a range of issues including school closures, domestic abuse, mental health, employment for young people, racial equality and many other key challenges.

A third round of grants from this fund was opened in September 2021, resulting in awards of £404,294. Together the three rounds have provided a total of £1, 072,070 in funding to 93 Churchill Fellows. These grants were funded through our own resources and the generosity of our supporters. We are extremely grateful to all friends, Fellows and supporters who contributed to this.

A key part of our Covid-19 Action Plan was to capture the range of Fellows’ learnings for the benefit of others into the future and in August 2021 we published the first results in an interim report and film. These were produced by ClearView Research, led by Kenny Imafidon (CF 2016), and are available to view on our website. We will build on this work to capture lessons learnt from a wide range of Fellows’ Covid-19 projects, aiming to create a national resource and knowledge bank of learnings and recommendations that can be shared with policymakers and practitioners nationwide.

None of this would have been possible without the energy and determination of Fellows themselves. Together they have launched and adapted hundreds of initiatives on the frontline, in their communities and workplaces nationwide, drawing upon their Fellowship learnings to address the challenges of the pandemic.

“This has been a year of continued innovation and adaptation in response to the global pandemic. We have evolved the Fellowship programme, offering new grant schemes and greater support for Fellows’ UK work.” – Jeremy Soames, Chairman

Supporting and showcasing Fellows’ UK impact

The Covid-19 Action Fund is only one example of our increasing emphasis on funding Fellows’ work in the UK. This year we made a second round of grants from our Activate Fund, a pilot scheme we launched in 2020 which provides Fellows with funding to help them set up or accelerate projects to transform peoples’ lives in the UK, based on their global learning. Grants totalling £524,675 were made to 21 Fellows in June 2021 for projects addressing a range of issues, from tackling hate crime to supporting young people’s wellbeing to pioneering approaches for sustainable food. Twenty-eight Fellows have been supported through this Fund so far, as part of a three-year pilot to explore how we can best support Fellows to accelerate their UK activities, through financial and other forms of assistance.

Preliminary results have been impressive. Achievements this year from the first cohort of Activators (who were awarded in 2020) include: the launch of the UK’s first trauma-informed dedicated support service for women military veterans returning to civilian life; the creation of a national network and online community of professionals tackling homelessness in all sectors and areas across the UK; and the expansion to 36 areas across the country of the UK’s first nationally coordinated programme to protect infants from Abusive Head Trauma.

A third round of grants will be made in 2022 and an evaluation of the scheme’s impact will follow. To better showcase Fellows’ UK work and ideas, we made two major developments to our communications this year. The first was the creation of a new website and the second was the adoption of a new operating name, ‘the Churchill Fellowship’. Both involved a consultation process with Fellows who said that what they valued most in the Fellowship was the sense of belonging to a community of practical changemakers, who work on every issue facing society. This is reflected in the improved website and in the new operating name which put the Fellows, their activities and ideas at the front and centre of what we do.

Measuring the impact of the Fellowship

Our 2021 annual survey of Fellows demonstrates the difference they have made to society as a result of their Fellowship. Some 84% of respondents said that they have directly benefited more than 20 people, 56% have directly benefited more than 100 people, whilst 54% have indirectly impacted more than 1,000 people. One Fellow said, “As a result of the Fellowship I launched ThinkForward, which over the last decade has helped more than 10,000 young people in their school-to-work transition.”

Fellows’ influence has spread across society, with 60% of respondents benefitting the sector they work in, 56% benefitting their communities and 40% reporting that their work had directly impacted on UK-wide policy development. One Fellow remarked, “I'm proud of being able to authoritatively say - here's how other countries are approaching the same challenges in mental health and look what we can learn from that. It’s enabled lots of conversations in the sector about the importance of digital technology in improving access to mental health treatment and support.”

The survey also shows the impact the Fellowship had on Fellows’ own personal growth and their capacity to lead change. All Fellows reported a stronger and broader knowledge base, 87% reported increased confidence and 84% reported an increase in their professional network. They have shared their Fellowship findings through presentations (82%), secured further funding to implement their ideas (76%) and set up their own organisations to put their Fellowship learnings into practice (18%).

The overall picture is of Fellows significantly increasing their capacity to lead change, and their satisfaction is high. One Fellow said, “I am immensely proud of being a Churchill Fellow and regard it as one of the very best things I've done. I've held some of the most prestigious research funding that individuals can hold in the sciences, including 5-year senior fellowships, that are exceptionally rare to hold. And yet, somehow, the memory at the end of my career of the defining moment of it will be the Churchill Fellowship.”

This satisfaction is reflected in the statistics, with 100% of Fellows saying they would recommend a Fellowship, 90% valuing the credibility the Churchill Fellowship provided and 84% expecting the positive impact from the Fellowship to continue throughout their life and career.

The survey was sent to 429 Fellows who had completed their research travels 1, 3, 5 and 10 years earlier, and 62 Fellows responded. Whilst the sample size is smaller than previous years, its results are consistent with previous surveys.

Looking to the future

The past year has seen further innovations for the Fellowship which will help to support out next organisational strategy.

The first is the creation of an online option for Fellowships. For the first time, we offered those Fellows who had not yet completed their travels an opportunity to undertake all or part of their Fellowship research online. To date, three Fellows have completed or are currently undertaking a full digital Fellowship, with a further five undertaking part of their Fellowship digitally. Feedback has been positive, with one Fellow reporting that the digital Fellowship allowed her to talk to organisations in countries that she hadn’t previously thought of visiting, enabling her to gather more information than if she had been travelling. Whilst prompted by the global lockdowns, this is an opportunity we plan to make available permanently after further consultation with Fellows. Our unique programme of travel grants will remain central to what we do, but the creation of the digital Fellowship is an important step in making the Fellowship more accessible to those who are unable to travel. It also provides a more ecologically sustainable alternative, as we consider how we can reduce our impact on the environment.

A second initiative is the development of a new collaborative process with Fellows and members of our Advisory Council to identify the annual themes in which we award Fellowships. Through a series of subject-specific working groups, we brought together these expert voices to advise us on the UK’s key areas of need in which a Fellowship programme would be beneficial.

With their guidance, we have created six new topical themes which will open for Fellowship applications in 2022: Arts and communities; Caring for our natural environment; Children and young people in care; Climate change; Resilient economies and communities; and Tech for all. These working groups will exist for the lifetime of each theme, supporting new Fellows to put their ideas into practice and to amplify their reach into the sectors.

This work leads us into our next strategic phase, with a new strategy to ensure that the Fellowship continues to bring the greatest benefit to lives and communities across the UK. Key areas will include greater amplification of Fellows’ impact, and evolving our grants and support for Fellows. This will build on the innovative work already begun, as outlined above, but will also involve the exploration and development of new schemes and projects, in consultation with Fellows, to ensure we deliver the best possible support and impact.

Alongside this, there will be two special areas of focus: addressing inequality and protecting the environment. These will run across all we do: our annual themes, communications, grantmaking, approach to global travel, policies on ethical donations and investments, partnerships and our own internal structures and processes. Work on these has already begun, to ensure our activities are fit for the future.

This next strategic period includes our 60th anniversary in 2025, a key moment to communicate and celebrate the extraordinary contribution of Churchill Fellows to communities and society across the UK. We are excited about what lies ahead and believe the developments of the past year stand us in good stead as we look ahead to the next.

Helen Woodcock (CF 2010) received a 2021 Activate grant to develop a community farm in the north-west of England as a farming blueprint for the future.Download image

Summary

Responding to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

As Covid-19 continued to affect the nation, our focus and funding remained on supporting Fellows’ UK projects to mitigate the effects of the pandemic throughout society. We awarded a second round of grants from our Covid-19 Action Fund in December 2020, totalling £302,000 for 32 projects. These Covid-related projects provided emergency help or longer-term recovery measures for a range of issues including school closures, domestic abuse, mental health, employment for young people, racial equality and many other key challenges.

A third round of grants from this fund was opened in September 2021, resulting in awards of £404,294. Together the three rounds have provided a total of £1, 072,070 in funding to 93 Churchill Fellows. These grants were funded through our own resources and the generosity of our supporters. We are extremely grateful to all friends, Fellows and supporters who contributed to this.

A key part of our Covid-19 Action Plan was to capture the range of Fellows’ learnings for the benefit of others into the future and in August 2021 we published the first results in an interim report and film. These were produced by ClearView Research, led by Kenny Imafidon (CF 2016), and are available to view on our website. We will build on this work to capture lessons learnt from a wide range of Fellows’ Covid-19 projects, aiming to create a national resource and knowledge bank of learnings and recommendations that can be shared with policymakers and practitioners nationwide.

None of this would have been possible without the energy and determination of Fellows themselves. Together they have launched and adapted hundreds of initiatives on the frontline, in their communities and workplaces nationwide, drawing upon their Fellowship learnings to address the challenges of the pandemic.

“This has been a year of continued innovation and adaptation in response to the global pandemic. We have evolved the Fellowship programme, offering new grant schemes and greater support for Fellows’ UK work.” – Jeremy Soames, Chairman

Supporting and showcasing Fellows’ UK impact

The Covid-19 Action Fund is only one example of our increasing emphasis on funding Fellows’ work in the UK. This year we made a second round of grants from our Activate Fund, a pilot scheme we launched in 2020 which provides Fellows with funding to help them set up or accelerate projects to transform peoples’ lives in the UK, based on their global learning. Grants totalling £524,675 were made to 21 Fellows in June 2021 for projects addressing a range of issues, from tackling hate crime to supporting young people’s wellbeing to pioneering approaches for sustainable food. Twenty-eight Fellows have been supported through this Fund so far, as part of a three-year pilot to explore how we can best support Fellows to accelerate their UK activities, through financial and other forms of assistance.

Preliminary results have been impressive. Achievements this year from the first cohort of Activators (who were awarded in 2020) include: the launch of the UK’s first trauma-informed dedicated support service for women military veterans returning to civilian life; the creation of a national network and online community of professionals tackling homelessness in all sectors and areas across the UK; and the expansion to 36 areas across the country of the UK’s first nationally coordinated programme to protect infants from Abusive Head Trauma.

A third round of grants will be made in 2022 and an evaluation of the scheme’s impact will follow. To better showcase Fellows’ UK work and ideas, we made two major developments to our communications this year. The first was the creation of a new website and the second was the adoption of a new operating name, ‘the Churchill Fellowship’. Both involved a consultation process with Fellows who said that what they valued most in the Fellowship was the sense of belonging to a community of practical changemakers, who work on every issue facing society. This is reflected in the improved website and in the new operating name which put the Fellows, their activities and ideas at the front and centre of what we do.

Measuring the impact of the Fellowship

Our 2021 annual survey of Fellows demonstrates the difference they have made to society as a result of their Fellowship. Some 84% of respondents said that they have directly benefited more than 20 people, 56% have directly benefited more than 100 people, whilst 54% have indirectly impacted more than 1,000 people. One Fellow said, “As a result of the Fellowship I launched ThinkForward, which over the last decade has helped more than 10,000 young people in their school-to-work transition.”

Fellows’ influence has spread across society, with 60% of respondents benefitting the sector they work in, 56% benefitting their communities and 40% reporting that their work had directly impacted on UK-wide policy development. One Fellow remarked, “I'm proud of being able to authoritatively say - here's how other countries are approaching the same challenges in mental health and look what we can learn from that. It’s enabled lots of conversations in the sector about the importance of digital technology in improving access to mental health treatment and support.”

The survey also shows the impact the Fellowship had on Fellows’ own personal growth and their capacity to lead change. All Fellows reported a stronger and broader knowledge base, 87% reported increased confidence and 84% reported an increase in their professional network. They have shared their Fellowship findings through presentations (82%), secured further funding to implement their ideas (76%) and set up their own organisations to put their Fellowship learnings into practice (18%).

The overall picture is of Fellows significantly increasing their capacity to lead change, and their satisfaction is high. One Fellow said, “I am immensely proud of being a Churchill Fellow and regard it as one of the very best things I've done. I've held some of the most prestigious research funding that individuals can hold in the sciences, including 5-year senior fellowships, that are exceptionally rare to hold. And yet, somehow, the memory at the end of my career of the defining moment of it will be the Churchill Fellowship.”

This satisfaction is reflected in the statistics, with 100% of Fellows saying they would recommend a Fellowship, 90% valuing the credibility the Churchill Fellowship provided and 84% expecting the positive impact from the Fellowship to continue throughout their life and career.

The survey was sent to 429 Fellows who had completed their research travels 1, 3, 5 and 10 years earlier, and 62 Fellows responded. Whilst the sample size is smaller than previous years, its results are consistent with previous surveys.

Looking to the future

The past year has seen further innovations for the Fellowship which will help to support out next organisational strategy.

The first is the creation of an online option for Fellowships. For the first time, we offered those Fellows who had not yet completed their travels an opportunity to undertake all or part of their Fellowship research online. To date, three Fellows have completed or are currently undertaking a full digital Fellowship, with a further five undertaking part of their Fellowship digitally. Feedback has been positive, with one Fellow reporting that the digital Fellowship allowed her to talk to organisations in countries that she hadn’t previously thought of visiting, enabling her to gather more information than if she had been travelling. Whilst prompted by the global lockdowns, this is an opportunity we plan to make available permanently after further consultation with Fellows. Our unique programme of travel grants will remain central to what we do, but the creation of the digital Fellowship is an important step in making the Fellowship more accessible to those who are unable to travel. It also provides a more ecologically sustainable alternative, as we consider how we can reduce our impact on the environment.

A second initiative is the development of a new collaborative process with Fellows and members of our Advisory Council to identify the annual themes in which we award Fellowships. Through a series of subject-specific working groups, we brought together these expert voices to advise us on the UK’s key areas of need in which a Fellowship programme would be beneficial.

With their guidance, we have created six new topical themes which will open for Fellowship applications in 2022: Arts and communities; Caring for our natural environment; Children and young people in care; Climate change; Resilient economies and communities; and Tech for all. These working groups will exist for the lifetime of each theme, supporting new Fellows to put their ideas into practice and to amplify their reach into the sectors.

This work leads us into our next strategic phase, with a new strategy to ensure that the Fellowship continues to bring the greatest benefit to lives and communities across the UK. Key areas will include greater amplification of Fellows’ impact, and evolving our grants and support for Fellows. This will build on the innovative work already begun, as outlined above, but will also involve the exploration and development of new schemes and projects, in consultation with Fellows, to ensure we deliver the best possible support and impact.

Alongside this, there will be two special areas of focus: addressing inequality and protecting the environment. These will run across all we do: our annual themes, communications, grantmaking, approach to global travel, policies on ethical donations and investments, partnerships and our own internal structures and processes. Work on these has already begun, to ensure our activities are fit for the future.

This next strategic period includes our 60th anniversary in 2025, a key moment to communicate and celebrate the extraordinary contribution of Churchill Fellows to communities and society across the UK. We are excited about what lies ahead and believe the developments of the past year stand us in good stead as we look ahead to the next.