Dark Skies Leaflet from North Wessex Downs

Dark, starry skies are one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer and the North Wessex Downs has its share. Now that we can meet outside in small groups, it’s getting warmer, and the nights are still quite long, it’s a great time to get out with friends or family to see dark skies.

Download their new Dark Skies leaflet from their website for hints and tips on stargazing and where to go. The leaflet was produced with support from the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – call for nominations

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022 Queen’s Award for Voluntary ServiceThe Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK. Created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, it is the MBE for volunteer groups and is awarded for life.The QAVS is awarded to outstanding groups of volunteers whose level of initiative and impact are truly exceptional. Any group of three or more people can be nominated. The group must have been operating for at least three years and provide a specific local benefit. The nominator needs to be an independent member of the public, and not someone from the group.

Rural charities report significant increase in demand for support

by Philip Vincent, ACRE

Research conducted by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) shows how its members were needed more than ever due to Covid-19 – putting pressure on their finances.

100 years of supporting rural community action could not have prepared the 38 county-based charities that make up the ACRE Network for the dramatic events that began this time last year.

In the space of a few weeks, staff began working from home, information and advice was hurriedly prepared and issued to groups, and services traditionally provided face to face were moved online. At the same time, there was an unprecedented increase in demand for support by groups wanting to know how to respond to lockdown restrictions and look after vulnerable residents.

Rural charities report significant increase in demand for support

The report we are publishing today shines a light on the way the ACRE Network has provided a lifeline to rural communities during the pandemic, as well as valuable information about their size, reach and services provided. Our members have much to be proud of as they celebrate a centenary of rural community action

In a survey conducted last year, 86% of ACRE members reported a significant increase in demand for support from village halls forced to close their doors. Together they reached an estimated 8,000 voluntary committees, helping them apply for emergency grant funding and make sense of rules on social distancing once activities could resume.

More than two-thirds of members also reported an increase in demand for volunteer support and initiatives relating to health and wellbeing – much of which can be attributed to the sudden surge of interest in good neighbour schemes and mutual aid groups which played a crucial role in making sure vulnerable residents received essential food and supplies during the first lockdown, whilst reducing isolation.

But the increased provision of support for rural communities came at a cost. When surveyed, 21 members said they expected their finances to suffer as result of Covid-19, representing a loss of £3m across the network.

The research shows how ACRE members reached over 35,000 groups between 2019 and 2020, levering in approximately £34 million worth of funding to rural communities. Between them they employed over 1,000 staff who supported a wide range of initiatives including community planning and consultation, social prescribing, fuel buying groups, community business and affordable housing schemes.

Richard Quallington, ACRE’s Executive Director said, “The report we are publishing today shines a light on the way the ACRE Network has provided a lifeline to rural communities during the pandemic, as well as valuable information about their size, reach and services provided. Our members have much to be proud of as they celebrate a centenary of rural community action”.

The oldest charity in the network, Oxfordshire Community First celebrated its centenary last year.

ACRE expects to repeat the survey of its members every year so it can track their capacity to deliver services for the benefit of rural communities.

What Matters Most: Healthwatch East Berkshire Survey

Healthwatch East Berkshire covers Ascot, Bracknell Forest, Maidenhead, Slough and Windsor. We exist to listen to residents’ voices when it comes to their health and social care experiences and views.

To better understand the community’s health and social care needs across East Berkshire, we have created our ‘What Matters Most’ survey. The survey will help us understand residents’ views and experiences as well as their health priorities for 2021-2022. The survey will provide us with a foundation of information to use for future work, as well as a chance to capture residents feedback (good or not so good). We take this feedback to decision makers who have the power to make positive changes happen. 

Our work relies on people telling us what they like about health and social care services, and what they think could be improved. We need your help to do this by completing the survey linked below. If you, or someone you know, need support when completing the survey please call our Healthwatch Hub on 0300 0120184 (Weekdays between 10am-4pm). The survey is available in English, Polish, Punjabi and Urdu.

What Matters Most survey: What Matters Most (smartsurvey.co.uk)

Funding Opporunities for Community Groups and Charities in April 2021

Return to Football Fund Return to Football fund is an exciting new grant the Football Foundation are delivering on behalf of the FA and Sport England. The fund is to support clubs and organisations across the country where the need is greatest with the purpose of helping you return to football activity. Not-for-profit community groups delivering football activity in an area within Decile 1-3 of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) are eligible for funding and will be able to apply for grants of up to £500. More information can be found here. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Football Foundation at communications.team@footballfoundation.org.uk.

Berkshire Community Foundation – new funds opening soon
The next Grants round opening is 1 April 2021 and will close 10 May 2021.  The grants will relate to Coronavirus, Sport and Older People.
More information

The Good Exchange Community
Any registered charity or other group that operates for public benefit in the UK can use The Good Exchange
to apply for fundinq and fundraise for a recognised charitable purpose, attract donations and raise funds.
To get started simply register your Applicant Organisation on The Good Exchange platform and complete the single online application form. Applicant Organisations will need to include details of the project for which funding is required (including a description of the project, the goals, expected impact and benefits, costs and the amount of funding needed).
Once submitted and approved, the project is published on the platform and matching begins. Live projects will be automatically matched and short-listed for Funders on the platform according to their specific grant-giving criteria. Click here to find out more.

Support for New Music Projects
The PRS Foundation has announced that grants of up to £10,000 are available to support new music projects led by promoters, talent development organisations, venues, festivals, curators and large performance groups. Supported projects will involve the creation, performance and promotion of new music and enable Music Creators to develop creatively and professionally. Applications close 14th June. Click here for more information.
Gerald Palmer Eling Trust
Charities with activities in West Berkshire or neighbouring counties can apply for project grants (no amount specified) to support community/education facilities, social/welfare support/therapy, medical research and/or the advancement of the Christian religion. Applications must be made in writing. Click here for more details.

Ocado Foundation for Good
The programme will support ‘the many rather than the few’ by providing grants up to £1,000 to charities, community groups, CICs, academic institutions, and local authorities for community projects which focus their efforts on skills for the future, natural resources and responsible sourcing. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only applications for digital volunteering will be accepted. Click here to apply.
Funding for Organisations Connecting Local Communities
The focus of the Barchester’s Charitable Foundation is about connecting or re-connecting people with others in their local community. Applications are supported that
combat loneliness and enable people to be active and engaged. In particular they support older people over the age of 65, and adults with a physical or learning disability
and/or mental health problems. Applications are favoured that help improve people’s mobility, independence and quality of life. Grants range from £100 up to £5,000, with
the recent average grant being approximately £775. They are particularly keen to provide grants which enable groups and individuals to mix, join in social activities
and reduce their danger of isolation and loneliness. Click here to find out more.
Cameron Grants for Innovation in Mental Health
The objectives of the Cameron Grant Memorial Trust (CGMT) are to raise awareness of suicide, to urge all who are suffering in silence to speak up and ask for help, and to support people, especially young people, who are fighting to overcome poor mental health.
This is a new scheme, funded by CGMT, to encourage innovative ways to support individuals suffering with poor mental health. Through this scheme, CGMT will offer
‘seed-funding’ of between £100 and £2,500, to individuals or organisations who need money to trial new ways to support those in need. CGMT will award grants to fund these innovations. Applications for a grant of between £100 and £2,500 will be considered. The grant can be used to trial a new service, create an asset, a technology, a performance, fund research, or otherwise experiment in any way that supports the treatment of mental health. Click here to learn more.
Funding to Support Children & Young People
Schools, colleges and community groups can apply for funding for projects which will help team working skills and future employability of children and young people. BlueSpark values academic, vocational, artistic and sporting endeavour but only provides funding for relatively small-scale projects which might not happen at all or would only happen on a lesser scale without the support of BlueSpark. Click here to find out more. Applications reviewed every 8 weeks.

Localgiving Magic Little Grants – deadline 31 October 2021

The Magic Little Grants 2021 programme promises to be even bigger and better than ever. This gives grants of £500 to small charities and community groups thanks to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Funding can go towards any of the below projects:

  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Enabling community participation in the arts
  • Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty
  • Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality
  • Improving biodiversity and green spaces
  • Enabling participation in physical activity
  • Responding to the climate emergency and promoting sustainability
  • Increasing community access to outdoor space

For further details please click here.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – focusing on inclusion – rolling deadline

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is accepting applications for grants from £3,000 to £10,000 and £10,000 to £100,000 for projects that are focused on inclusion, led by and/or engaging diverse groups typically under-represented in heritage (for example, young people, minority ethnic and LGBT+ communities, disabled people and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds). This work could include:

  • exploring different generations, communities and their history
  • mental health and historic environments
  • youth-led history focused projects
  •  LGBT+ heritage

For more details please click here.

Arnold Clark Community Fund

Grants of £1,000 are available for UK registered charities and local community groups who need financial assistance due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

During the months of March 2021, April, 2021, and May 2021, 500 grants of up to £1,000 will be awarded through a draw. Applications that are unsuccessful one month will be kept in the draw for the following month.

Read more 

The 2021 Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund is now open for applications.

Community organisations, charities, private companies and social enterprises are encouraged to apply for grants of up to £5,000 from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for projects to help tackle loan sharks. Collaborative bids between multiple agencies are also welcome.

The funding comes from money seized from convicted loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

Projects must raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks, reduce crime and disorder and have a positive impact on communities. Read the full story and learn how to apply on our website at www.stoploansharks.co.uk/groups-urged-to-bid-for-share-of-loan-sharks-confiscated-cash/

For information on expenditure we will and will not fund and to see a list of previous successful applicants, please visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk/poca-funding/

The deadline for POCA applications is Wednesday, 30th June 2021.

Please note we are not accepting paper applications this year. You will need to download and complete an application form from the Stop Loan Sharks website.

  New Funding Stream:  Restart Youth Restart Youth will support youth organisations through the Covid-19 crisis to give decision making power to young people, currently overlooked by mainstream services. Designed by 6 Young Advisers – the scheme welcomes applications from youth organisations in the South East of England (Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Kent, Oxfordshire, the Isle of Wight and Sussex) for specific pieces of work to give young people power and control in decisions they are making about services in response to Covid, as well as provide essential services to them. They particularly want to fund work that will invest directly in young people whose needs are not currently being met, i.e. are new to, or on the margins of, services. Find the application form and all other details on the website. Deadline for applications is May 7th 2021. We look forward to hearing from you!
Vital for Berkshire The Covid Vital for Berkshire fund opens on 1st April and supports Berkshire community and voluntary groups with grants of up to £5000. To help organisations respond to people with immediate needs. To help stabilise organisations supporting those in need, To help organisations adapt to the crisis, i.e. through service enhancement and development, or the purchase of equipment, Apply on-line before 10am Monday 10th May 2021. See https://www.berkshirecf.org/available-funding/coronavirus-fund/

GBA COVID-19 Tackling Inequalities Fund

Get Berkshire Active (GBA) have extra emergency funding to support and distribute to community organisations (charities, community groups, CIC’s or similar) working with:
• Individuals with a disability
• Individuals with a long term health condition
• Ethnically and culturally diverse communities
• Low Socio-economic groups
There must be a line of sight to physical activity in any project, work or costs funded – however, you don’t need to be a physical activity/sport related organisation to apply. Any support covered by the funding is intended to meet immediate need up until October 2021. See https://getberkshireactive.org/gba-covid-19-tackling-inequaliti

Core costs for small charities 
The Yapp Charitable Trust invites small charities to apply for grants of up to £3,000. Registered charities in England and Wales, with annual expenditure less than £40,000, can apply for funding for core costs and staffing. Grant fund open – for details on how to apply please visit The Yapp Charitable Trust
Hall and Woodhouse Community Chest Grants are available for voluntary and community organisations based, or working in, the south of England for projects that improve their local area such as youth work, health and social care, arts and culture, conservation and the environment. For mroe details: https://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk/about-us/community-chest/