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Inspiring investment in community services

Bucking the trend with clients who make a difference to local people and deliver projects that play a vital role in the community.

At times, it feels hard to avoid the daily stream of doom and gloom surrounding public services and regional funding that we hear about in the news. Here at Gifted we’re delighted to be bucking the trend with clients who make a difference to local people and deliver projects that play a vital role in the community. In Leeds, where our Chief Executive Amy Stevens is based, this kind of energy and pragmatism is palpable. When it comes to inspiring fundraising stories, both The Leeds Library and St Peter’s Church in Morley are great examples of philanthropy in action.

The Leeds Library

For over 250 years, The Leeds Library has been a source of inspiration and connection for local people. It’s the oldest surviving membership subscription library of its kind in the British Isles, and the oldest cultural institution in Leeds. As such, it is a much-loved heritage gem; a place where passions are pursued and people come to learn, read, share and celebrate.

What people discover when they walk through its doors is a treasure trove. The Library’s collections and archives contain over 140,000 items, including valuable first edition texts, such as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. As well as books and periodicals, it also holds a wealth of other material charting a social history and a pattern of reading unmatched by any other library in the UK.

Part of the lifeblood of Leeds

Making sure it remains responsive and relevant to members and non-members, the Library is keen to bring its unique story to a modern and more diverse audience. From poetry recitals to ghost tours, it hosts over 100 events a year and takes part in a number of city-wide festivals. Its team also works in partnership with other cultural organisations in the city, such as the award-winning Leeds Lit Fest. In so many ways, the Library is very much part of the lifeblood of Leeds.

In February 2022, Trustees invested £340,000 of reserves into the purchase of the adjacent building, 15 Commercial Street. The acquisition formed the first phase of the Next Chapter Project, an ambitious, two-phased plan to expand the existing Library’s footprint and fulfil a broader vision of enthusing a new generation of readers and learners. Now, we’re working with the team to complete the project through raising the final £500,000 in addition to developing the ongoing fundraising vision.

“This is a project that’s about literature, culture and a wonderful sense of identity, coupled with a desire to open the wonders of the Library and of reading to a broader and more diverse range of people,” says Amy Stevens. “It’s also very much bound up with sustainability and making sure that a unique institution is able to thrive for a new generation of library lovers in Yorkshire.”


St Peter’s Morley

Based in South Leeds, St Peter’s is a vibrant organisation with a thriving congregation and wider church community. It plays a significant role, not only as a place of worship, but as a key community resource. The current Parish Hall is fully booked most days by local community groups – from yoga and karate, to choirs, drama, toddler groups, Brownies and everything in between. Unfortunately, the building is in a state of disrepair, which means the church is stepping up to reimagine this much-needed facility and provide a new, affordable home for community activity.

 The power of teamwork

 We are thrilled to be working with the team at St Peter’s to raise the £750,000 required for this important local project. And, whilst we’re taking the helm with the specialist Trust applications and other major approaches for funding, none of this would be possible without the dedicated staff and volunteers who serve on the Community Centre project committee.

“St Peter’s is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when a group of people believe in and commit to a project,” says Amy. “I have no doubt that we’ll reach our fundraising goal, largely due to the commitment of the church team. The energy and inspiration they bring to the project is infectious and is already rippling through the local community who are getting behind the campaign.”

At Gifted we often talk about leadership by example, and that’s exactly what Phil Harris, the Vicar at St Peter’s is demonstrating. In April, he’ll be undertaking a 4-day, 230 mile running challenge to raise funds for the campaign.

Positive communities

We can learn a lot from these two organisations, along with all the other cultural, heritage and community charities across the UK who are delivering projects which plug a growing gap in the availability of community services. They remind us that when we work together, great things can happen. They also underscore the importance of conviction and determination when it comes to turning an exciting vision into a successful project.

If your organisation is facing its next fundraising challenge and you’d like to explore the best way of getting a project or programme off the ground, get in touch with one of our directors or contact us at