pickwell foundation

About us

Who we are

In 2008, four friends – Susannah Baker MBE, Steve Baker, Tracey Elliott & Richard Elliott with four young children between them – embarked on a new way of living and working together. It began with the joint purchase of a house and business, Pickwell Manor, on the North Devon coast.

With hard work and determination, the business grew and became an extremely popular destination for both self-catered holiday accommodation and high-end weddings.

The shared values and the sense of responsibility to both people and planet, was the glue that bonded the group together. Over the next 15 years with five new businesses and one business sale behind the four of them, The Pickwell Foundation is now a key focus for the trustees. Social impact is at the heart of what drives the families.

The Pickwell Foundation is a grant making charity and the annual funding pot is drawn from their businesses and social investments. They support organisations, charities and other non-profits with small to medium size grants. These grants support those working either with displaced people or in the area of climate change.

They themselves have a renewable energy company – appearing in the fast track 100 for the last 2 years  and a social housing company, both in line with their core values.

In the past eight years, their work with displaced people has been a pivotal focus as it felt not enough to fund others, when they had the passion and drive to be involved themselves. They have recruited, trained, and supported 13 groups of volunteers who have either welcomed, or are in the process of welcoming, refugee families through the Community Sponsorship Scheme. They have a team of people providing casework and wrap-around support to Ukrainian guests welcomed into North Devon and Torridge via the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Last year they stepped up to offer volunteer-led support to over 150 people seeking asylum in a North Devon Hotel via the Dispersal Scheme. Since October 2023, a team was set up to help 18 Afghan families rebuild their lives here in North Devon. So far 9 of those families have been welcomed.

Trustee and director for the asylum and refugee work – Susannah Baker MBE – is co-chair of the national group ‘Community Sponsorship Alliance’ (CSA). This advocacy group meet regularly with the Home Office to help steer and advise on sponsorship policy and growing the scheme.

Thanks to the impact of the work with the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ Scheme, the exceptional relationship forged with Local Authorities and demonstrating social impact in such a rural location, Susannah was invited to work on the core delivery team with the Ukraine Taskforce within DLUHC, in order to engage with how the policies have an impact on the ground with the work.

Susannah also sits on the ‘Resettlement Strategic Engagement Group’ (RSEG) which sits within the Home Office and covers all areas of policy formation within refugee resettlement, and the ‘Asylum Strategic Engagement Group’ (ASEG) which is also held chaired by The Home Office, together with the Refugee Council.

More recently the CSA was chosen as one of just four VCS organisation representatives to help DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities) housing and curate the new ‘Communities for Afghans’ scheme which is largely shaped on their extensive experience of working within the area of Community Sponsorship and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

in 2023 Susannah was honoured with an MBE for her services to Ukraine by King Charles.