People First is proud to be one of a hundred charities to become a Barclays UK charity partner. As a partner we are grateful to receive generous funding from Barclays to help us support people with learning difficulties in Cumbria.


The funding

In April 2020, Barclays announced a £100m Community Aid Package to support charities that are helping people and communities most impacted by COVID-19. Alongside a colleague-matched fundraising initiative, and £10m pledged through their 100×100 Programme, Barclays is donating funds to charity partners across the UK, Americas, Asia and Europe to ensure help reaches those who need it most. In the UK, these partners include organisations who are meeting the immediate needs of low-income families, those facing financial hardship, isolated elderly people, NHS staff and key workers.

The latest list of Barclays charity partners can be viewed here.


The project

The £100,000 funding from Barclays will enable People First to develop our Covid-19 emergency response project, Keeping People Connected.

The Keeping People Connected project provides vital advice and support to people with learning-disabilities and/or autism in Cumbria via telephone and video call. This support is designed to keep people safe, well, informed and ‘connected’ during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

Due to Barclays Funding, people accessing the Keeping People Connected service are now able to join existing, or newly emerging, ‘self-advocacy’ groups facilitated by dedicated People First staff.



Self-Advocacy Groups are made up of people with learning difficulties and/or autism in Cumbria who come together online and, when safe, in person, to share their experiences. The groups provide an environment for local people to become ‘self-advocates’, to speak up for themselves, to learn from each other and grow as part of a community of peers.

Self-advocacy means that people with learning difficulties and/or autism are able to ask for what they need, want and inform people about their thoughts, feelings and wishes.

A powerful example of this in action came in February 2021. Self-advocates, supported by People First, took part in the ‘Beyond Urgent’ campaign; a petition to government to move people with learning difficulties higher up the vaccine priority list. This campaign saw nationwide coverage and resulted in a life-saving change.


David Blacklock, People First CEO, said:

‘Self-advocacy makes a life-altering difference to people with learning difficulties and/or autism. We all thrive as part of a community. When we share our stories with others, when we hear other perspectives we grow, and we feel part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s what self-advocacy does and that’s what this hugely generous donation from Barclays UK is enabling us to bring to more people than ever before.’

‘We are profoundly grateful that Barclays UK has chosen People First as one of its charity partners. Their backing is an endorsement of how crucial self-advocacy and advocacy services are to vulnerable people during extremely challenging times and beyond’.


Nigel Higgins, Barclays Chairman, said:

“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented social and economic impact in the UK, with many experiencing greater hardship due to the crisis. Incredible charities have been playing a vital role in the UK’s response to the pandemic, ensuring urgent help reaches those most in need of support. As a bank we have been doing all we can for our customers, clients and colleagues, and we hope that by partnering with People First and many other charities across the UK, collectively we can ensure that as many people as possible in the communities in which we live and work are supported through this crisis.”