Love Kingston is helping charitable projects across the borough achieve great things. We talk to Miranda Jaggers, its new director, about its plans, and what we can all do to make a difference in our local communities…
“There are great pockets of need,” says Miranda Jaggers, who notes that while Kingston may well be an affluent and pleasant borough for many, there are areas where we are neglecting some of our most vulnerable residents.
Love Kingston has done much to try to redress the balance, and, as its new director, Miranda hopes we can all dig a little deeper and look at what we can do to help. Along with the more obvious areas of need such as poverty, Miranda says we must be aware of the hidden issues. “For example, we see isolation as a problem impacting only the elderly but this is not always the case. We see it as an issue for some young people too – they may be materially comfortable but not well supported emotionally.” Her plan is to really dig into the data to see where the biggest problems are.
Miranda has worked in the voluntary sector in Kingston and Richmond for over 30 years, and recently received a Medal of the Order of the British Empire in the 2019 New Year Honours List for her work with the River Thames Boat Project.
Miranda has been in the post of director at Love Kingston since January 2019. And her priorities are to spin-off Love Kingston as an independent charitable foundation from Kingston Voluntary Action, which has nurtured it over the past few years, and to reach out further into the community to bring in more funding.
Love Kingston raises money enabling it to give grants yearly to local charities. Donations come from corporates, philanthropists and through all levels of the community pitching in, from school bake sales, to taking part in challenges like the Prudential RideLondon Cycle Event. “We have a number places available for cyclists who want to take part in RideLondon and we are holding a gala dinner which this year is on 21st June at Warren House. Another example is the Kingston Pound, whether you’re shopping or paying your business rates, with 1% of your spend coming to Love Kingston. “
“It is an amazing community we have here,” Miranda says, pointing to the enthusiasm for fundraising initiatives such as Love Kingston Day, which takes place annually on Valentine’s Day. “This year, we had singers from Euphonix, a local community choir, nursery school bake sales, and a quiz night.” Corporates also play a big part – Marks & Spencer in Kingston, for example, has chosen Love Kingston as its charity for the year. They’ve held staff coffee mornings, a bring and buy sale, and local community groups help customers with bag packing at the foodhall checkout: “So if you’re offered help in M&S please make a donation,” says Miranda.
Love Kinston is a member of London Funders and has a small but growing endowment fund managed by the London Community Foundation. It is building this legacy fund, which Kingston, unlike many boroughs in London, did not have. Legacy funds make use of assets donated by wealthy individuals or businesses, with the grants often coming from interest, or investment of that money, rather the using up the capital sum.
Each year, local initiatives can apply for a grant with grant-making focusing on the themes ‘pathways out of poverty’ and ‘from isolation to integration’. Projects it has supported include Express, which provides therapy groups for young people on the autism spectrum and their siblings; and The Vintage Banquet, which provides community care and creative opportunities mainly for the over 60s who would otherwise be isolated, and Kingston Foodbank. One of Miranda’s first tasks was to co-ordinate Love Kingston’s 2019 Small Grants programme. “It is all about encouraging the community to support one another,” she says.
As well as fundraising, the community can also help by volunteering. Love Kingston currently has a small number of volunteers and Miranda says more will be needed as it grows
“We would love to hear from if you can help in anyway, from organising a pub quiz to assisting with supporting the riders taking part in RideLondon on 4 August.”
Tickets to the gala dinner – book here.