Our history

Challenging inequalities

Tackling racism has been at the heart of what we do since our inception

Hackney CVS has a rich history, beginning in 1995 when it was set up at the Print House on Ashwin Street by a small group of community organisations in response to a survey by the council, which asked local organisations what they needed from an infrastructure body. Adiaha Antigha, our first Director, joined in 1996, and we became incorporated on 6 May 1997.

During the two and a half decades since we opened our doors, we have worked tirelessly to create a fairer society for local communities. Our role has been as an enabler, facilitator, and convenor for the voluntary and community sector around issues important to residents, broking collaboration and partnership working and acting as a bridging agent with local public bodies to address local inequalities.

Over the years, we have grown significantly, launching our first Community Chest grants programme in 2000, and the Community Empowerment Network (CEN) in 2001 – to represent the sector on the newly formed Hackney Local Strategic Partnership. This helped Hackney CVS turn a £50k deficit in 1996 to a £2.3 million turnover by 2005. Sadly, in 2006, Hackney CVS loses Adiaha Antigha, with her death being a huge loss to the organisation, and to the wider voluntary and community sector.

Jake Ferguson, who joined Hackney CVS in 2001, became our new Chief Executive. Continuing Adiaha’s legacy, he oversaw the next phase of our development, including the establishment of Hackney Giving, our local giving fund, in 2014, and Connect Hackney: Ageing Better, 2015 –2023, which addressed loneliness and isolation amongst older people, and funnelled over £4m to the local VCS.

Tackling racism has been at the heart of what we do since our inception, and we’ve been involved in important initiatives such as the response to the 2011 riots, following which we set up the Hackney Account project, which has led the way in supporting young people from African heritage backgrounds to know their rights, and hold the police to account. More recently, Hackney Account played a pivotal role in convening the local community to respond to the 2020 case of Child Q. We continue to play a leading role in ensuring learning from these horrendous events drives lasting change through our involvement in the Community Resilience Partnership.

We supported the development of the Hackney Council 2015-25 ‘Improving Outcomes for Young Black Men’ (renamed in 2023 to ‘Improving Outcomes for Black Children and Young People’) and supported the creation of a community accountability board to oversee delivery of the strategy. In response to the 2020 racist murder of George Floyd, we drafted an anti-racism manifesto for our local public sector partners, which Hackney Council included in their own anti-racism strategy, and we supported the local voluntary and community sector to process, heal and respond.

Jake Ferguson stepped down in 2021, and Tony Wong, who had joined Hackney CVS in 2018, succeed Jake as our new Chief Executive. Tony has ensured we continue to advocate for the voluntary and community sector, tackle inequalities, and drive the anti-racism agenda.

Today, we continue to play a vital role in the community, with recent achievements including Hackney Giving surpassing £2m in grants awarded to local voluntary and community sector organisations to respond to issues such as Covid-19, the Cost-of-living crisis, and supporting Turkish and Syrian communities impacted by the earthquakes.

In 2021 we delivered City & Hackney’s first VCS Assembly, which has brought hundreds of local VCS and statutory partners together to address issues such as reducing school exclusions, and inequitable funding for Black & Global Majority- led VCS organisations – leading to a set of Anti- racist commissioning principles endorsed by the City & Hackney Health & Care Board for wide adoption across the City & Hackney placed-based partnership.

Looking to the future, through this strategy Hackney CVS remains committed to building on our legacy of tackling discrimination in all forms and furthering the anti-racist agenda. Partnership working will remain central to our approach to tackling inequalities and driving social justice to create a fairer society.

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