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Kings Fund - New £250,000 leadership programme for charities launched

The King’s Fund, Comic Relief, and the Big Lottery Fund have opened the application process for a unique support programme enabling charity leaders to help each other through sharing expertise and developing skills.

Following a successful pilot, The King’s Fund, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund have agreed to support the roll-out of the Cascading Leadership programme so that more charities can benefit. The Big Lottery Fund is investing £175,000 of National Lottery funding alongside £75,000 from Comic Relief.

Cascading Leadership was piloted by The King’s Fund and Comic Relief in 2016. It is designed to improve access to support and development opportunities for charity and voluntary sector leaders. There are 80 places initially available on the programme, which is free to attend and managed by The King’s Fund. Charities applying for places, worth up to an estimated £3,000, must show how their work improves health and wellbeing.

The programme’s distinctive approach involves charity leaders providing support to less-experienced peers, meaning support comes from those who understand and are familiar with the sector’s challenges and potential. Leadership experts at The King’s Fund also provide training and guidance to develop the skills and capabilities of both those receiving and providing the support.

As well as launching the application process, The King’s Fund has also published a report sharing the assessment of an independent evaluation of the Cascading Leadership pilot. This found that ‘without exception, participants view Cascading Leadership as a success in terms of the benefits they have gained both individually and organisationally.’ It adds: ‘The pilot demonstrated that supporting voluntary sector leaders to offer consultancy to other leaders within the sector enables them to develop professional skills, alongside deeper strategic leadership.’

Cascading Leadership builds on the achievements of the GSK IMPACT Awards, where winning health and wellbeing charities receive free training and leadership development from The King’s Fund as part of their prize. Feedback from charities winning GSK IMPACT Awards highlighted the immense value these opportunities provide to their organisations.

Lisa Weaks, Head of Third Sector at The King’s Fund, said: “Charities make a huge contribution to improving the health of society, but the sector faces tough challenges. Funding squeezes and rising demand for services mean that charities are under intense pressure and so effective leadership skills are needed more than ever.

“Cascading Leadership recognises that there are many charity leaders with hugely valuable skills and experience. The programme harnesses their excellent leadership and enables them to support other charity leaders while developing their own capabilities even further. We’re excited that Cascading Leadership has the backing of Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund – more charity leaders can now take part, learn from each other, and strengthen their organisations’ crucial work supporting communities across the UK.”

Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief, said: “With increasing demands on services, challenges in the funding landscape and more complex relationships to nurture and negotiate, it can be a lonely as well as exciting place being a charity leader.

“Cascading Leadership takes as its starting point the principle of sharing knowledge and building the sector’s capacity from within. And it is this understanding, and sharing of experience from others within the sector, alongside time to reflect and plan away from the everyday pressures of the workplace, that participants report valuing so much. Building on the learning from the pilot, we are delighted to be working again with The King’s Fund, and welcome being joined by the Big Lottery Fund to support this innovative and exciting programme.”

Gemma Bull, England Director at the Big Lottery Fund said: “By empowering leaders, and sharing knowledge and skills, our aim is to strengthen the great work happening throughout the voluntary and community sector. Collaborating with The King’s Fund and Comic Relief will ensure we can maximise the reach of National Lottery funding and continue to support charities of all different sizes and locations.”

Notes to editors: 

Applications to Cascading Leadership open on 21 June 2017.

The King’s Fund report on the evaluation of Cascading Leadership is now available.

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team at The King’s Fund on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035).

The King’s Fund

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.

Comic Relief

Comic Relief is a UK charity which aims to create a just world, free from poverty - where everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world.

For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit

Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland).

For the latest news, statements and exclusive content direct from the Comic Relief Press Office follow @ComicReliefNews

Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. We put people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.

We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year we awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

Since 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £36 billion for Good Causes, with more than 500,000 individual awards made across the UK. In that same time, The National Lottery has awarded over £61 billion in life-changing prizes.

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