28 March 2023

Old Mill Fund reaches £50,000 milestone

The Old Mill Fund – the home of financial experts Old Mill’s charitable giving – has reached the impressive milestone of awarding £50,000 in grants to grassroots good causes across Somerset, Devon and Wiltshire since the Fund was first launched just over three years ago.

Old Mill has a strong history of giving back to the community, and in 2019, made a long-term commitment to support local charities by partnering with grant-making charity Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) to create the Old Mill Fund.

In the past three years the Old Mill Fund has made more than 40 grants – totalling £50,000 – to a wide range of local charities, touching the lives of more than 4,000 people. The money is raised through regular donations directly from Old Mill, personal contributions and fundraising by staff at the four offices in Wells, Yeovil, Chippenham and Exeter.

Twice a year, Somerset, Devon and Wiltshire Community Foundations assess applications they have received from inspiring local projects that fit well within Fund’s three key objectives:

  • Building brighter futures – helping young people to build skills, confidence and resilience and succeed at school and beyond
  • Reducing rural loneliness –supporting activities that reduce loneliness and help to improve physical and mental health
  • Strengthening communities – supporting projects that bring people together and build strong, supportive communities that help the most disadvantaged
Jonathan Orchard from Old Mill and Laura Blake from SCF and the team from funded group Sweet Track Counselling Agency sit on comfortable chairs and smile

Jonathan Orchard from Old Mill and Laura Blake from SCF during a visit to funded group Sweet Track Counselling Agency

Old Mill then chooses the projects they’d most like to support; charities that have been awarded grants so far include Sweet Track Counselling Agency, a counselling service based in Glastonbury Town Centre, Open Arms East Devon, which provides support for adults with mental health difficulties and Wiltshire Treehouse, a charity that provides bereavement support for children, young people, and families in Swindon and Wiltshire. The charity saw a huge increase in demand following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the grant from The Old Mill Fund is helping them to continue to provide these vital services.

Speaking about the support her family received, one parent said: “My husband passed away suddenly, leaving a massive hole in our hearts. The last few months have been extremely challenging for all of us and I got in touch with Wiltshire Tree House soon after he passed away, for guidance on how to support my children.

We were offered a place on their family programme A Day to Remember! and were blown away. They organised a day of wonderful craft activities to remember our loved ones, and offered a wealth of advice and support for the future and above all created a safe space for the children to learn about their emotions and to share special memories about their loved ones.”

Two of the charities that have been chosen this year include Doorway, a Chippenham-based project that supports vulnerable adults experiencing homelessness or housing issues, by running drop-in sessions offering hot food, showers, laundry, internet access, and Youth Resource Services part of The Rendezvous – a youth project in Yeovil and Sherborne. The grant will provide one to one maths and English tutoring for young people who struggle in traditional educational settings.

Speaking about the relationship with Old Mill, Laura Blake, Philanthropy Director at the Somerset Community Fund said:

“Our partnership with Old Mill is a very special one. The firm’s donations to The Old Mill Fund have helped us provide more vital funding for small, local charities working to support young people, improve people’s mental health and invest in strengthening local communities and we’re thrilled to have awarded over £50,000 of funding since 2019.

“But what makes our partnership so special is how Old Mill have also helped raise awareness of the need in our local communities and inspired their clients to consider giving through their local Community Foundations.

“In the last year alone, Old Mill’s Clients have donated almost £200,000 through Community Foundations – some creating permanent funds that will benefit local people and charities for generations to come. We’re hugely grateful to be working with a firm who are so passionate about making a significant social impact and look forward to building on our exciting partnership in the years to come.”

Jon Orchard, Partner at Old Mill, helps manage the fund and has personally raised over £2,500 through various sponsored events, including a 45-mile run and strapping himself to the top of a stunt plane. Talking about reaching the £50,000 milestone, he said:

“We are naturally very proud of this achievement, and the benefit the grants have had in the local communities that we work in. We certainly don’t want to stop here and our aim is to continue to raise awareness of the Old Mill fund and the various community foundations.

“While do not have a particular monetary goal in mind, we wish to continue to spread the word about how important we believe philanthropic giving should be for businesses and individuals, and lead by example.  We are finding that businesses are starting to think more about their impact on the communities around them and how they can be a powerful force for good.”

The Old Mill Fund is managed by local Community Foundations in Somerset, Devon and Wiltshire and charities or groups looking to apply for funding from it can do so by visiting their websites.

If you’d like to make a one-off or regular donation to the Old Mill Fund, visit https://tinyurl.com/OldMillFund