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Celebrating a Decade of Empowerment: 2024 Weston Charity Awards Open for Applications


The 2024 Weston Charity Awards have officially opened for applications, courtesy of a partnership between The Garfield Weston Foundation and the charitable organization Pilotlight.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the transformational support package worth over £22,000 to small charities in the Midlands, North of England, and Wales. The Awards celebrate and support ambitious front-line charities working in the Community, Welfare, Youth, and Environment.

Through the Weston Charity Awards, unrestricted grants of £6,500 are available for up to 22 charities to develop a strategic sustainability plan and accelerate innovative growth. Successful charities also gain free access to the Pilotlight 360 programme – a ten-month package of leadership coaching worth an estimated £16,000.

“This year is the tenth anniversary of the Weston Charity Awards. Now more than ever, charities are seeking help to ensure a robust strategic future. The Awards underscore the Foundation’s passion for nurturing and empowering charities to thrive and support those who need it most.”

Philippa Charles, Director of The Garfield Weston Foundation

Alongside grants, award winners receive an unrivalled package of leadership mentoring from four senior professionals across diverse private and public sector organisations. These empathetic “Pilotlighters” offer in-depth expert coaching on everything from creative operational efficiencies to sustainable long-term business strategies that take an organisation to the next level.

One beneficiary of the Weston Charity Awards in 2020 was Burton-on-Trent charity, Eagle’s Nest. The project works with young people aged 11-18 who struggle to engage in mainstream education, often due to early childhood trauma.

“As a small charity, we were struggling to find a way forward with limited resources. We needed help with how to make the next big step up, and so when we saw the Weston Charity Awards, I felt the opportunity to have those with much more business acumen than me to guide us as a charity would be priceless.

“The Awards came at the right time for us in so many ways. We remained open and front-facing throughout the pandemic, with vulnerable young people coming into centre every day when schools were closed. […] These sessions ensured we remained focused on the future as well as the very challenging circumstances we were operating in.

“Eagle’s Nest Project is now in a totally different place and set for future growth. And the Weston Charity Award and input from the Pilotlight team as a result has been a significant factor in this. I would, and do, recommend this process and Awards time and time again.”

Eagle’s Nest Chief Executive Jan Appleton

Another Weston Charity Award winner in 2022 was East Midlands homelessness charity One Roof Leicester. The charity empowers communities to help people who are homeless to rebuild their lives.

“Since completing the Pilotlight 360 programme we have a new long-term strategy at One Roof Leicester. Through the process we were able to fully involve all our trustees and staff. As a result, they clearly understand the vision, ambitions, and development plans we have for the next five years but also are much more committed to achieving these. This has also given us greater clarity and focus for our communication, marketing and fundraising strategies.”

Manager Salma Ravat

A recently published Skills Sharing Impact Report showed that six months after participating in Pilotlight 360, an incredible 90% of charity leaders said the programme had a major positive impact on their strategic vision, with 100% saying it had positively impacted the effectiveness of their senior management team. Two years on from Pilotlight 360, charities increase their income by 43% (based on five-year rolling averages).

“Across the country, times are genuinely tough for people. Many charities supported through the Weston Charity Awards are small-sized and based in the most deprived areas of the UK. We give them space to think, access to the skills needed to help their communities, and a clear path ahead. I am grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation as funders for the Awards and our business experts who make this possible.”

Pilotlight CEO, Ed Mayo

Last year’s Weston Charity Award winners provided critical services to 48,541 people. The charities worked across various areas, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), social inclusion, alcohol and drug advisory services, environmental impact, ex-offenders, care work, refugee action, and adoption and carer support.

Registered charities over two years old (with at least one paid full-time member of staff in a leadership position) and an income of less than £5 million per year are eligible to apply. The application deadline is 5 pm on Wednesday, 10 January 2024.*

Find out more about the Weston Charity Awards by attending a free Zoom session at 2 pm on Wednesday afternoons:

  • 22 November – Weston Charity Awards: Your questions answered.
  • 29 November – Weston Charity Award insights for environmental charities.
  • 6 December – Everything you need to know about the Weston Charity Awards.
  • 13 December – Weston Charity Awards: The impact of winning (hear from past award winners).
  • 3 January – Weston Charity Awards: Your questions answered.

Register for an online session or see full entry criteria at www.pilotlight.org.uk/weston-charity-awards

*Supplementary information may be sought by the end of January for longlisting by a judging panel. A rigorous selection process is then required to handpick the very best third-sector organisations worthy of recognition for their achievements. Final selection takes place and winners will be notified in May 2024.

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