Meet our Grants Development Officer for London and the South East
25th February 2020
Buttle UK operates throughout the UK with grants packages that are able to reach any child or young person that matches our criteria in any local authority across the UK. As part of this, we rely on the expertise and experience of our Grants Development Officers, who evaluate grant applications and oversee spending.
Keeley Mudd is one such officer. Based out of our head office in London, Keeley is responsible for assessing grant applications throughout the South East of England and London. But how did she come to work for Buttle UK?
Keeley’s third sector career began with a Sociology and Criminology Degree from Brighton University. This was followed by a CSV year in Scotland, volunteering as a befriender with the local authority, helping to provide support and respite care to children and families experiencing difficulties ranging from medical to schooling issues. After pursuing a Masters in Social Work, Keeley has continued to work within the voluntary sector, developing and delivering projects with children, young people and their families.
It was after this, around four or five years ago, that Keeley found herself working for Solace Women’s Aid as a Refuge Family Support Worker, working directly with families experiencing some of the issues faced by those she now supports through our Chances for Children grants.
Cuts to funding for public services were beginning to bite and although she notes that the refuge was comparatively well resourced, the service was often overstretched. In fact, Keeley remembers using the forerunner to our Chances for Children grants, the Anchor Project;
“It made sense to use outside services and links with the local community whenever we could. We’d sometimes make use of the Family Action grants when families first moved into refuge for smaller items and the Anchor grants when they were more ready to move on.”
Nevertheless, by the time Keeley left the refuge, steadily bigger cracks in local welfare provision were beginning to show.
"A major issue for the families was housing, or the lack of it to be more precise. With nowhere to go families were having to stay longer at the refuge and be moved further from their support networks.”
The negative impact on the families and children in these circumstances was clear, as families had to stay longer and longer at a temporary, emergency service, and those further along in their recovery increasingly came back into contact with families that were just entering the service. The added pressure to move even further out of an area often meant even more disruption to a child’s education and support network.
But there was also the knock-on effect to local communities; for the teachers that need to help children starting school and who may have missed vital lessons, and for the extended family who might be left behind and might be reliant on the support of those in the refuge.
This leads to another dimension that Keeley is keen to stress.
“Families in the refuge aren’t passive, they’re often very active in the community, and play a key role in the support networks that build up in and around them.”
It’s tempting to buy into the narrative of those in refuge being wholly at the mercy of events, but this ignores the vital role that they have to play in supporting their communities and others at the refuge itself.
“The thing about support networks is that they go two ways; they come with obligations. Many women continued to hold down jobs, provide support to fellow service users, share childcare, stay active in their churches and look after elderly relatives amid juggling really complicated and horrific personal circumstances.”
It's these circumstances, Keeley feels that when they are working at their best, our Chances for Children grants can help support these relationships or provide the groundwork for new ones where the current ones cannot be maintained.
It’s a theme that she maintains in cases outside domestic abuse as well. In between the refuge and Buttle UK, she worked at Siblings Together managing a service that provided activity days that brought together siblings separated in the process of being taken into care.
Whilst it's often stressed with estranged young people that relations with parents have broken down, even a cursory look at what little research exists on the subject shows that the reality is often complicated. Sometimes contact can be maintained with a sibling or extended family, however frayed. It is these relationships which Keeley notes are incredibly important, especially in light of the increasingly sparse social safety net in the UK.
"The risk of someone returning to an abusive relationship really decreases if they have access to even just a small amount of money or savings in an emergency. It just goes to show how little it takes have to have a real impact here.”
Despite working with women, children and young people who have been through appalling experiences, Keeley keeps a fundamentally positive outlook on humanity.
“I really think if people knew what these families and young people had faced and the resilience they have shown, there’d be no hesitation to give them more support.”
Tellingly, she recalls a time when she had to find support for one family with no other recourse to public funds;
“I made one call to a local business partner of ours who reached out to their networks and I couldn’t shut the door of the car for community generosity.”