Sustain's Big Dig project gets green light to go national

Almost half a million volunteers benefit from the Social Action Fund, including those volunteering on community food growing spaces supported through Sustain's Big Dig.

An estimated 450,000 volunteers will touch the lives of 4 million people in their communities as a result of funding from the Social Action Fund which is managed by The Social Investment Business on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

38 game-changing social action projects in England have so far received grants ranging from £100,000 to £2 million from the Fund to scale up proven models of giving and local engagement.  The Fund will support a staggering range of volunteering opportunities for young people, retired professionals and the homeless to support teaching in schools, improve citizenship awareness and acquire valuable life skills as well as encouraging local people to come together in their communities to get fit, grow food or improve neglected spaces.

The Social Investment Business’ Chief Executive, Jonathan Jenkins said:
"We are delighted to manage a Fund that finances ambitious, life-changing social action projects which will really make a difference and bring people together to improve the quality of life in their communities.”

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:
"Through these funds we are backing ideas that will inspire more people to get involved. Whether it be taking the chance to help a young person or transform a neglected space, they will be making a positive difference. That's going to be good for them and their communities. This is also good for the taxpayer because for alongside the Government’s investment, partners are investing almost £15m.”

Ben Reynolds, Network Director at Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming said:
"We were thrilled to receive funding from the Social Action Fund to support the Big Dig. This project supports volunteering at community food growing spaces. With the help of the Social Action Fund we can now role this out across other towns and cities across England."

City Year Chief Executive, Sophie Livingstone said:
“We are delighted that our application to the Social Action Fund has been successful.  The funding is a huge boost and means that City Year can expand into more London schools, support 2,700 extra children and deliver more than 20,000 hours of additional support to teachers.”


Notes to editors

 For further information or interviews, please contact The Social Investment Business press office: Nandini Das 0207 842 7724

 The Social Action Fund is managed by The Social Investment Business, on behalf of the Cabinet Office. The Fund supports social action projects in England from civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses with a track record of delivering social action programmes.

 A complete list of successful applicants to the Social Action Fund, is available at We expect that final number of successful projects will be 40. Two organisations are yet to confirm their offer.

 The Social Action Fund is part of a broader programme of support for social action that was announced in the Giving White Paper and takes its place alongside two other funding streams - Innovation in Giving Fund and Challenge Prizes.

 The Social Investment Business, the largest social investor in the UK, exists to help social enterprises, charities and community organisations do more of what they do best – supporting people and communities most in need. We help organisations prosper by providing innovative financial solutions, business support and long term strategic thinking.    @TheSocialInvest

 The Social Investment Business manages the Futurebuilders Fund and the Social Action Fund on behalf of The Office for Civil Society, the Social Enterprise Investment Fund for the Department of Health and the Communitybuilders Fund which was endowed to parent charity the Adventure Capital Fund by the Department for Communities and Local Government.  We have over 1,100 active investments which range in size and scope from, for example,  £3,600 to help a small organisation bid successfully for a public sector contract, to £6.7million to help a large national charity establish and develop innovative new services for children and young people.

 Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level.

 City Year aims to break the cycle of poverty by having a positive impact on pupil’s academic progress, behaviour and attendance at school.  City Year recruits young people to serve as tutors, mentors and role models in schools in deprived areas of London.  Known as corps members, the young people provide academic and emotional support to pupils, inspiring them to love learning and behave well.  City Year has a ‘double-benefit’ because its corps members benefit from more than 300 hours of personal development through its Leadership After City Year programme.

More details on the Big Dig will follow at