A group of twenty frontline charities from the North of England, the Midlands and Wales have been announced as winners of the 2021 Weston Charity Awards and will each receive strategic planning support from a dedicated, senior team facilitated by leadership charity Pilotlight along with a core grant of £6,500 from Garfield Weston Foundation.

Between them, the winners provide services to over 72,000 people and range in size from £100,000 to £2.5 million annual income. The charities support families experiencing domestic violence, people with physical impairment and homeless people among other causes.

A majority of the selected charities (listed below) have been hit financially by the Covid-19 pandemic and tell Weston Charity Award organisers that they are feeling the strain from being in “survival mode” all year.

Philippa Charles, director of the Garfield Weston Foundation said:

As the pandemic shifts, we are seeing an altered landscape for small charities. Our selected charities have shown courage and resilience this year in delivering vital services in the face of uncertainty and growing need. This year, more than ever, the Foundation is helping charities shift gear by providing dedicated support for long-term planning. The Weston Charity Awards have a proud record of helping charities to adapt services, diversify income and thrive into the future.

Among this year’s recipients are charities Disability North and Kingstanding Regeneration Trust.

Disability North provides user-led advice, support and activities to disabled people across the North of England. Its CEO Dr Victoria Armstrong said:

We’re exploring options to develop independent living apartments along with a new contemporary hub to host our activities that will further promote the welfare of disabled people in our region. We will benefit tremendously from external input as we embark on this business transformation.

Kingstanding Regeneration Trust in the West Midlands supports young people who are Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET) and dealing with a range of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Its CEO Karen Spence said:

I am passionate about helping young people overcome barriers to employment and applied for a Weston Charity Award as we need both support and challenge to develop our thinking about growing the charity, diversifying income and succession planning.

Best of both worlds as Pilotlight 360 combines virtual and face-to-face delivery

After a year in which all Pilotlight programmes have been delivered digitally, this will be the first cohort of Weston Charity Award winners to embark upon a new blended model that includes a series of virtual coaching sessions over ten months with a hand-picked team of senior business and charity leaders along with some face-to-face meetings. Although satisfaction rose last year among charity leaders participating in what became a virtual coaching experiment, they reported fewer indirect benefits such as relationship and network-building.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of Pilotlight said:

Last year taught us a lot about delivering online leadership coaching and we discovered many unexpected benefits for charity leaders and for senior professionals offering their time. Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, starting with these twenty charities, we will keep the best of what we have learned, using virtual delivery at key points, helping to engage charity Board members through the ease of access. We also believe it will power our ambitions to attract a larger and more diverse group of business leaders to join us.

The Small Charity Leaders Insight Report 2020, published by Pilotlight in the Autumn, shows there is huge unmet demand for external pro bono support from those running smaller charities - around two-thirds (66%) of those polled for the report said they were actively seeking skilled pro bono support at the end of 2020, but nearly half (44%) were concerned that managing corporate volunteers would be time-consuming.

Pilotlight research also shows a strong appetite for skilled volunteering among UK workers. A major poll during the pandemic revealed that one in ten workers (11%) already gives their time to charity with the help of their employer, whilst 50% want to volunteer their professional skills to charities but struggle to find the time or means to do so. Over three quarters of workers said they expect business to help people volunteer.

A full list of Weston Charity Awards 2021 winners and a description of their primary services


West Midlands

East Midlands

North West

North East

Yorkshire and the Humber