The difference one grant can make

Below is an extract from an accountability report from Common Unity Project Aotearoa who received a John Ilott Charitable Trust grant in 2018. 

In 2012, the Common Unity Project Aotearoa started as a pilot project to explore the idea that, by inviting a community to partner with them and celebrating the strengths that they have, they might together address some challenges that affect us all.

They are a registered charity that works collaboratively with community, schools and organisations across Lower Hutt. Their Mission is to ensure Every Child has a Village. They believe that in order to achieve this, a collective response to meeting the needs of our children and developing our own resilient solution within our community is required.

“We look to each other to strengthen our community from the inside out.”

Please describe the benefits to your organisation and the community with respect to the grant received.

The purpose of this grant was to contribute towards the part-time salary of our Office Administrator. This position is a key support role for Common Unity Project. Reporting to the Operations Director, the position will ensure that the administration for the organisation is carried out professionally and in a timely manner.

Funding this position has enabled us to:

  • Put in place appropriate systems and processes that ensured robust, safe practises that look after our staff, community, enterprises and volunteers;
  • Benefit the community through providing local employment above the living wage; connecting the community to craft their own solutions, leading their own development through community-owned enterprise, feeding children and whanau together, sharing and gifting to one another;
  • Becoming richer as a society, and transacting without money;
  • Support Common Unity's development to ensure a healthy successful future, walking alongside the community to continue to build on what has been created and led from the bottom up.
  • Support local parents in getting back into the workforce;
  • Support creating healthier diets and lifestyles;
  • Support volunteers and the community as they learn to manage the various enterprises;
  • Support the kitchen team to scale up their meal production;
  • Food grown has been shared with the families/individuals who produce it alongside supporting our community kitchen;
  • Involvement in decision making;
  • Supporting community building activities, with the express purpose of feeding more children/families through local food, local enterprise, sharing of skills, local ownership;
  • Develop the Urban Kai Network to provide produce for our meals;
  • Supporting the development of our Unity Kitchen. A place of outreach, festivals and fundraising opportunities for our diverse ethnicities;
  • Continually connecting the community, enabling conversations and opportunities to share with us their needs, and to have a part in making a change;
  • Supporting our young people in what they have to positively contribute to society;
  • Connecting vulnerable families and individuals, improve resilience, well-being, self-sufficiency and quality of life.

The Common Unity Project Aotearoa’s vision is that every child has a village. We believe that everything is interconnected.  Together, We Grow.

How did this grant contribute to the outcome of your project?

Our vision is to grow food, skills, enterprise and leadership with local individuals, family and whānau. We work to create long-term positive change in communities where change is a real challenge. 

The employee tasked with this administrative role has supported Common Unity's work within the entire community, with a focus in particular on local employment, parents, local school and pre-school children. 

This position has supported the following outcomes between November 2018 – June 2019;

  • Developing our recently launched solar-powered, off-grid kitchen “Unity kitchen -Te Ihi O Te Ra”, producing 5,500 meals; gifting 2,500 (within 6 months);
  • Created opportunities for locals to learn to cook, share traditional recipes as well as employment;
  • Developed a catering enterprise - buy one, give one;
  • Community Café established as the key welcoming point and for individual meal sales;
  • Established robust systems and processes (Health and Safety, Financial, Sales, Enterprise Plans, Fundraising Strategy);
  • Urban Kai Network: Grown over SIX Tonne of food;
  • Developed a core Senior Leadership Team;
  • Developed new strategic goals, vision and purpose;
  • Strengthened partnership with Rimutaka Prison to grow food, enterprise, collaborating with incarcerated tane, learning from their experiences/stories of growing up in poverty;
  • Grew community capacity/skills;
  • Timebanking became our system to transact without money, supporting volunteering;
  • Various community workshops held - cooking, sewing, gardening, bike fix-ups;
  • Winter warmer packs put together using products made and gifted by volunteers - home-made pjamas, bed socks, scarfs, hats and jerseys, for local school children and the Hutt Hospital ED department;
  • Meals prepared for Women's Refuge, and gifted to partner schools;
  • Donated bikes fixed up and gifted to community members;
  • Building on collaborative relationships with outcomes that benefit the community, environment with opportunities towards systemic change.

For more information on John Ilott Charitable Trust grants, visit

For more information on Community Unity Project Aotearoa, visit


The difference one grant can make

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