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Who’s funding: news & opportunities for UK charities

Melanie May | 21 March 2023 | News

£5 & £20 notes. Photo by Christopher Bill on Unsplash

Here’s a round up of some of the recent funding news and opportunities to be found around the UK, from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, to support from the OU to help disadvantaged groups study during the cost-of-living crisis.

Access Foundation donates £1.83mn in first year

The Access Foundation has donated £1.83 million to 50 charities and organisations in its first year to help people from hard-to-reach areas gain access to digital technology.

The charity was set up in 2021 with the purpose of helping to tackle the UK’s digital divide. It issued the first grant in January 2022 and the Foundation has since been able to support a variety of projects, from university programmes for underprivileged and underperforming students and technology workshops for people in rural areas, to donating refurbished laptops to schools.


How to move from Fundraiser to CEO - by Bruce Tait. Upwards white arrow on blue background.

The Foundation is also building an international presence. In Malaysia, the Foundation is supporting the National Cancer Society the country’s first not-for-profit cancer organisation providing, education, care and support to people with cancer. In Australia, the Foundation is working with Variety, a charity which supports children with autism, and in Romania the Foundation has recently granted an award to help raise money for equipment at a hospital in the city of Timisoara.

Some of the organisations to have benefited from the foundation’s grants include:  Loughborough University; Citizens Advice Mid Mercia, Derbyshire; Berkshire Vision; Misgav, London; and Mustard Tree, Manchester.

To be eligible to apply for a grant, charities must have as a key objective the mitigation of the digital divide by making computing facilities, support and/or learning available to disadvantaged and vulnerable people. They must also be one of (or shortlisted for) the chosen Access Group Company Charities of the Year, of any year, past or present, and be a charity for whom there is a strong emotional connection with a member of staff of The Access Group. More information here.

A scheme has also been set up for the firm’s 6,300 staff around the world to nominate a charity close to their hearts to receive a £5,000 – £10,000 grant, and the first of those grants are now being issued. The company selected a charity in 2022, Bipolar UK, and raised more than £448,000 through various fundraising efforts. This year, Parkinson’s UK has been nominated as The Access Group’s Charity of the Year.

OU announces £3mn to help disadvantaged groups study during cost-of-living crisis

The Open University (the OU), has announced £3mn of support through a series of scholarships to support individuals most in need and disadvantaged in accessing higher education. The scholarships package is the largest ever announced by The Open University and comes at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is impacting people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds from taking up higher education.

In its latest initiative, the OU will be providing scholarships, bursaries, and support to disabled veterans, refugees or those seeking asylum, Black students, carers, and care-experienced students to realise their ambitions and study.

The Open Futures Fund sits at the heart of the OU’s mission to make higher education accessible to all, championing equity and inclusion and will offer 136 fully funded degree places for the next academic year 2023/2024.

Since 2014, the OU has awarded over 434 scholarships and hundreds of bursaries, worth over £10 million, thanks to the generosity of OU alumni, supporters, and friends.

Further details of the schemes can be found here:

Ten UK charities win 2023 GSK IMPACT Awards

Ten UK charities have been named as winners of the 2023 GSK IMPACT Awards for their work improving health and wellbeing in their communities. 

The winning charities were chosen from more than 400 organisations. Now in their 26th year, the GSK IMPACT Awards are delivered in partnership with health and care charity, The King’s Fund. The awards are designed to recognise the work of small and medium-sized charities to improve health and wellbeing in the UK. Winners receive £40,000 in unrestricted funding as well as support and leadership development provided by The King’s Fund.   

The 2023 winners include: Aurora New Dawn; Birth Companions; Croydon BME Forum; and LBGT Switchboard.

With a key aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme being to develop leaders in the charity sector, all winners are invited to take part in a tailored leadership development programme run by The King’s Fund. Following this, they can join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a UK-wide network of more than 110 previous award winners who work together to develop leaders, find new ways of working and provide mutual support. 

The awards are open to small and medium-sized charities working in health and wellbeing with an annual income between £120,000 and £3 million that are at least three years old. The 2024 GSK IMPACT Awards will open for applications on Monday 3 July 2023. More information and to apply here.

Funding awarded to projects connecting people & communities

Spirit of 2012 has announced funding for seven projects across the UK to explore how the major national events and moments of 2023 can connect individuals and communities and build common ground across social divides.

Its previous research has shown that events of all sizes, from a local street party to the Commonwealth Games do bring people together, but it doesn’t happen by accident and that more events should make the most of the opportunity to bridge divides. From these seven grants, a combination of test-and-learn and research projects, Spirit will find out more about what works and how future events can capitalise on these opportunities.

Following an open call for applications earlier this year, seven grants totalling £304,960 have been awarded under the Moments to Connect programme. The programme is designed to explore how events can build social connections between individuals and communities; learn about the role that major events can play in bringing people together across social divides; and share this learning with event organisers and others working to increase social cohesion.

The grantees are:

There is no more funding available at present but any opportunities are listed here.

£600,000 Infrastructure Support Fund launches

Charities and Community groups in Kent are invited to apply to Kent Community Foundation for grants of up to £75,000 from a new Infrastructure Support Fund.

The funding for the new Infrastructure Support Fund has been provided by Kent County Council and will be awarded to charities, community groups and CICs to support existing, dormant or new infrastructure support projects.

The type of work that the infrastructure fund will support includes the development of leadership skills, including Board development or good governance and policy development, help for collaborative working for back office and mergers, organisational strategy and development projects, support and training for income generation, diversification, financial strategy and sustainability.

The fund opened on Monday 13 March.

Applicants must cover as a minimum at least one of the four areas specified below:

The closing date for applications is 14 April.

There will be no continuation funding available, and grants must be fully spent by March 2025. This funding is for Kent and does not cover activities in Medway. To apply to the Kent Community Foundation Infrastructure Support Fund visit here.

Foundation Scotland’s education and training support exceeds £1 million

Foundation Scotland’s education and training support now exceeds £1 million in grants distributed to date. Since its first Education and Training Fund in 2015, over 900 grants have been awarded. This is thanks to support from community benefit funds provided by the renewable energy sector and onshore wind farms.

These funds have been specifically set up to support individuals facing cost barriers (covering expenses such as travel, laptops, books and childcare) to help them enhance their employment opportunities. As a result, growing numbers of Scottish communities are setting up dedicated Education and Training grants programmes across Scotland, thanks to community benefit funds provided by the renewable energy sector and onshore wind farms.

Foundation Scotland has to date distributed over £150 million of funding to more than 12,000 organisations the length and breadth of the country. From local food banks and counselling services, to youth groups and training funds, they have awarded over 44,000 grants to charities, social enterprises and community groups across Scotland since they were established in 1996.

Support is also available for individuals seeking to take that ‘next step’ to fulfil their employment potential is less well-known. Erin Morrison from Eastfield in North Lanarkshire for example recently received funds to help with rising costs relating to studies. She is now studying for a BEng in Civil Engineering and is the first person from her family to go to university. She successfully applied to the Harthill, Eastfield and Greenrigg Education & Training Fund for a total grant of £3,300, which will be split into three payments during her university course, helping to subsidise many of the costs relating to studying.

Funding available from UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund was announced by the government last Spring and enables communities to draw up plans to deliver on local priorities, based on a conditional allocation of funding over the next three years. These could include, for example, regenerating high streets, fighting anti-social behaviour and crime, or helping more people into employment.

When it was announced, the government said local areas across England would receive £1.58 billion, Scotland £212 million, Wales £585 million and Northern Ireland £127 million under the fund.

As an example, Derbyshire’s Amber Valley Borough Council is inviting not-for-profit groups and charities in the borough to apply for a share of support from the Community and Place Fund, as part of wider UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF).

 The local authority has £160,000 available over two years, and groups can apply for between £5,000 and £10,000 each.

The grant is centred around the themes ‘Culture and Communities’ and/or ‘Health and Wellbeing. To be eligible, groups’ activities need to be delivered against a set of criteria: Support for local arts, cultural, heritage and creative activities; Impactful volunteering and/or social action projects; Community engagement schemes, local regeneration and community measures to reduce the cost of living, including through measures to improve energy efficiency, and combat fuel poverty and climate change.

The first call for grant applications is running from 1 April to 12 May. If all funding is allocated at this time, the fund will close until the following year. If 2023 grant funding is still available, a second call for applications will take place from 1 June to 14 July.

Elsewhere, other councils have also issued calls for projects seeking funding through the UKSPF. Cornwall and Isles of Scilly for example have been allocated £132million to spend on local investment through the Shared Prosperity Fund, with information on funding opportunities available here, and opportunities through Neath Port Talbot Council, which has been allocated £27.3mn in core funding plus £5.7mn for projects to improve adult numeracy has its opportunities listed here.