New Projects

CIVA develops new projects which address current social and environmental issues in innovative ways with the aim of:

  • Creating ventures which are able to continue on a sustainable basis. Or…
  • Influencing thinking, public policy and action

These are some of our new projects which are in an early stage of development:

Urban Food Growing

Feeding the world accounts for around one-third of global CO2 emissions, and as we move towards net zero, we will need to redesign how we produce and distribute food. This includes technological innovations such as non-meat proteins and lab grown meat, but it also includes local food growing in and around cities. We have been working with Totteridge Academy through its GROW project supporting mushroom growing and the creation of accompanying curriculum materials as a part of their wider programme of involving students, families and the local community in growing based on a 6-acre council-owned field immediately adjacent to the school which promotes health, wellbeing and enterprise as well as supplying the school kitchen. We are also working with various partners to develop training courses in urban mushroom growing, and are running a GROW Festival for sharing of ideas and experiences through talks, visits, workshops and other events.

Understanding of Mathematics

We received a substantial legacy from a prominent mathematician, and our trustees decided to allocate 80% of this towards the public understanding of mathematics. We then decided that we wanted to create the UK’s first museum of mathematics, equivalent to MoMath in New York and Mathematikum near Frankfurt. We have created a partnership with MathsWorld UK, and decided on Leeds as the venue for this museum. Plans to move forward have been delayed by Covid-19. But we are funding two initiatives as a stepping stone towards this goal. The first is a mini-museum in a leading shopping centre in Leeds called MathsCity which opened in Autumn 2021 in a double unit provided free by the shopping centre and funded from a variety of sources including the Leeds Business Improvement District and ourselves. We are also commissioning exhibits for an exhibition on the mathematics of viruses, and organising a challenge to create ideas for an exhibition on the mathematics of artificial intelligence, with winning entries being awarded prizes plus funds towards creating their exhibits. Alongside funding these and other initiatives, we are holding £1million to put towards the creation of the museum.

Agricultural schools

Michael Norton introduced to the idea of agricultural schools through being asked to judge a social enterprise competition in Hong Kong where one of the entries was Fundacion Paraguaya based in Paraguay, which had created a number of such schools in Paraguay and Africa. These schools are self-funding though the agricultural enterprises that they run, and their aim is to equip students to set up agricultural enterprises, to get jobs or to go into higher education. Two of the four schools in Paraguay are for girls. We have had contact with Naomi Sesay (former Head of Innovation at The Media Trust and Head of Diversity at Channel 4 and of Sierra Leonian origin). Together we have created a plan for establishing an Agricultural School in Matamp in central Sierra Leone, and the local community has offered up to 2,000 hectares of land for this purpose to be provided for free. We are working with Terreform One, a US-based non-profit consultancy and Fundacion Paraguaya to create a strategy and plan for taking this forward, including the financing of it and within a more ambitious project to create a Smart District.

CIVA also incubates start up initiatives led by other people, where we believe in what they are doing and feel that we can add value. These are just a few of the initiatives that we have been incubating over the past few years:

Journey to Justice: led by Carrie Supple

Journey to Justice is an education programme on human rights inspired by Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement in the USA, which has been devised and led by Carrie Supple. It develops activities in partnership with local museums and local communities. The Journey to Justice exhibition has been put on in Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth and Nottingham, and is planned for Bristol, Dorchester, Hull, Stockton and London. Other initiatives include a national gathering, a handbook and train the trainer events for working with young people and community groups. In 2017, Journey to Justice achieved its own charitable status from which point it has operated independently of CIVA. 

My Living Will: led by David Metz and Isky Gordon

This is a mechanism for people to express their end-of-life wishes regarding the treatment that they wish to receive. A website providing comprehensive advice on Living Wills with sample documents, where people can also make and lodge their Living Wills is now live. My Living Will became a part of Age UK Camden in 2021.

Trauma Treatment International: Led by Polly Rossdale and Brock Chisholm

Trauma Treatment International brings psychiatric expertise towards helping to refugees in refugee camps mostly by providing training to aid workers responsible for the wellbeing of the refugees. TTI received start-up funding from the MSN Fund, and we have continued to provide strategic advice. In 2021 we helped with the appointment of a new Director, and we secured core funding from a Swedish donor for TTI to be able to continue and develop its work under its new Director who is based in Sweden.

Bloody Good Period: led by Gabby Edlin

BGP provides sanitary and personal hygiene products to refugee women in the UK, who would otherwise be unable to afford them. Gabby has also championed the idea of “Period Poverty”, with more emphasis on affordability and availability to all girls and women. We worked with Gabby to turn a start-up volunteer project run by volunteers into a thriving organisation meeting an important but hidden need, and promoting the issue at a national level. We also helped with fundraising and received grants and donations on their behalf.

Chayn: led by Hera Hussain

Chayn uses technology to empower women and girls around the world to address gender issues, including and importantly domestic violence. This global non-profit is run by survivors and volunteers from around the world, creating open-source online resources and services for survivors of abuse. So far they have been able to reach 400,000 people across the globe. We were able to receive charitable grants from Comic Relief and other donors and from some prominent US foundations to support their work.

The Bike Project: led by Jem Stein

The simple idea behind The Bike Project is that many refugees and asylum seekers have too little money to be able to afford to use public transport, and so are stuck where they are. The Bike Project collects bicycles, including those that are lost or stolen but unclaimed from railway stations and the police, repairs them and then gives them to refugees who are also taught cycle maintenance. They have also developed a cycle buddy scheme where volunteers befriend and cycle with refugees and they also sell bicycles and accessories to generate funds to support their work. We have assisted them with strategic and fundraising advice and support since they started.

The CREATE Equity Fund: led by Kevin Osborne

Kevin Osborne approached us to collaborate on creating an investment fund for investing in black and minority-led arts projects. The first stage was a feasibility supported by two leading foundations and the Arts Council. The second is to get the funds together (£5 million in the first instance) to make the idea happen. We have provided strategic advice, contacts and acted as grant-holder during this initial development phase.

The Future Jobs Lab: led by Jennie Winhall and Charles Leadbetter

This is a lottery-funded research project to explore what future jobs might look like beyond Covid-19, being run with ALT/now and The Liminal Space.

The Hot Breakfast: led by Kate Pumphrey

Kate created The Hot Breakfast as a way of bringing people together to engage in discussion leading on to collaborative action. We have also separately been exploring the idea of holding gatherings for social innovators to meet and share their ideas. Our first gathering was held at The Common Room in Kings Cross in December 2019, but activity was halted due to the Covid-19 lockdowns.