Meet the Propel Partner: London Funders

Learn a little more about the people behind Propel, starting with Louise Henry, Collaboration Manager at London Funders, supporting the operational side of the collaboration.

What does community mean to you?

Everything. I’ve always worked and volunteered on community projects, from running young people’s music programmes to teaching yoga to elderly carers. Its about people coming together and sharing what they’ve got – be it time, knowledge, resource or energy, with each other. It doesn’t need to be “community work” per se – when I first moved to London eight years ago I worked in a fabric shop on Chatsworth Road and ran a project delivering sanitary projects to local schools. Within a few months, I knew local artists, teachers and shopkeepers, and felt right at home.

What led you to work in funding?

Like most people, the sector was a mystery to me. I’d been running community music projects in Newcastle before joining Youth Music as a Grants Officer and suddenly had a seat at the table, influencing funding decisions. I knew nothing about funding when I started the job, and was hired primarily for my lived experience. Over three years with the most amazing team, I developed new music industry funds, managed over 300 grants and supported hundreds of community organisations and young people to apply for funding. My aim was to completely rewrite the narrative around funding, and demystify a lot of the myths around funders.

If you could change one thing about the wider funding sector what would it be?

The imbalance of knowledge and power. You can view a role in funding as that of a gatekeeper or an enabler, in an ideal world every funder would see themselves as the latter. My role in Propel allows me to push the boundaries a little, questioning the way funding works, and encourage people to unlearn what they know. We’re on our way and have a brilliant, ambitious team, helping me to learn that systemic change takes time.

Propel’s all about supporting Londoners. Where in London is home for you?

At the moment, Bethnal Green. Although the Geordie accent is still strong, I’ve lived all over East London. Where else could you swim in a reservoir, eat the best shawarma outside of Turkey, see a Bjork gig in the park and get your nails done at 10pm, all within a 3 mile radius?

And a few London favourites?

To eat – Hard to whittle down, but you can’t beat Mangal 1 on Arcola St.

To move – Swimming in the lake at Beckenham Place Park or teaching yoga at Waking Dreams.

To relax Dalston Curve Garden is the best place to hide away from the chaos of the city.

To dance Touching Bass have one of the most wonderful cross-generational music communities in London.