Local Connections Fund

Shantona

Round 1 of this programme is now closed, but the second round of applications will open on 28 June 2021.

Round 2 will focus on:

  • activities that physically bring people together in a safe and secure way
  • remote activities (when this is the best or only way for people to build connections) - for example, remote activities may benefit people who are geographically isolated, people with illnesses or disabilities, or those who are not quite ready to meet people in face-to-face settings
  • helping individuals to get out of the ‘lockdown mentality’ and meet people in their communities again
  • helping organisations who work to reduce loneliness restart their activities - for example, cleaning and refreshing meeting spaces or refreshing materials, and ensuring equipment is ready to be used.

The Local Connections Fund is a £4 million fund to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and The National Lottery Community Fund are investing £2 million each.

This will be used to fund hundreds of ‘microgrants’ between £300 and £2,500, so small, local organisations (with an annual income of £50,000 or less) can bring people and communities together.

Two rounds of funding
The Local Connections Fund will be split into two equal rounds of funding. DCMS provided the first £2 million round of funding - which will be distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund.

The second round of funding is being provided by The National Lottery Community Fund and will launch in the summer of 2021. If you've received funding in the first round, you will not be eligible for funding in the second round.

Grants from the first round of funding strengthened and developed small and micro organisations that connect communities together and reduce loneliness.

What the fundings for
The funding will help to bring people together in safe and secure ways – including by covering the costs of technologies and equipment that will help people feel more connected within their communities.

Funding can also be used to help strengthen organisations and their services through, for example, training and development.

People understand what’s needed in their communities better than anyone. We know that different groups within different communities have different needs and so will need different levels of support. We want to hear directly from organisations as to who, in their community, needs additional assistance.

Who can apply
Organisations can still apply, even if they already have existing grants with The National Lottery Community Fund. But you cannot apply for costs which have been funded by other means, including Government or National Lottery funding. If duplicate funding does occur, we’ll take action to recover these funds.

Area
England
Suitable for
Small local charities and grassroots groups working to tackle loneliness by helping people feel more connected within their communities
Funding size
£300 to £2,500
Total available
£2 million in phase 1 - successful applicants must spend their grants and have completed their projects by 31 March 2021
Application deadline

This programme is now closed

Apply

The Local Connections programme is now closed

We're no longer accepting applications for this programme.

If you submitted an application, you should get a decision from us by mid February 2021.

What information you need to apply

We ask for the contact details, home addresses and dates of birth of two different people from your organisation.

We need:

  • a ‘senior contact’ - this is the person who’s legally responsible for your grant (this could be the most senior person in your organisation)
  • the ‘main contact’ - this is the person we’ll contact about this application (this might be the person filling in your application).

These two people cannot be:

  • related by blood
  • married to each other
  • in a civil partnership with each other
  • in a long-term relationship with each other
  • living together at the same address.

Both contacts need different email addresses and both need to live in the UK.

We ask for the legal name of your organisation, its address, and what type of organisation it is
The legal name is the name on your governing document. Your governing document could be called one of several things - a constitution, trust deed, memorandum and articles of association, or something else entirely.

You might find it on a registration website - for example, Companies House or a Charities Register.

Make sure these details are up to date and match up with any information or identity documents we ask for (when you get to the application part).

We ask for information about your organisation’s accounts
We want to know the date your accounts wrap up each year and how much income you have.

If you do not have yearly accounts because you’re a new organisation (less than 15 months old), that’s okay. We can still look at your application.

We ask for a bank statement from the last three months
It should show:

  • your organisation's legal name
  • address the statements are sent to
  • your bank's name
  • the account number and sort code
  • the date the statement was issued.

Here’s a handy picture of the kind of bank statement we’re looking for.

We cannot pay into all bank accounts: We cannot transfer money into certain types of bank accounts like Tide, Cashplus and Paypal. This is because your bank account needs to be a registered UK bank.

What we'll ask you about your project

We ask you for information about what sort of project you’d like to do and how your project will help and involve your community. We'll ask you these three questions. (We'll have more detail about these on the form itself.)

1. What would you like to do?

You'll be able to write up to 300 words for this section, but don’t worry if you use less.

2. How does your project meet at least one of our funding priorities? 

The Local Connections Fund has two funding priorities, please tell us how your project will meet at least one of these:

  • build relationships in and across communities to help reduce loneliness and build connections between people and communities.
  • bring together organisations who are working on social connections to celebrate their work, share learning and best practice, and form/bring together peer networks. 

You can tell us if your project meets more than one priority, but don't worry if it doesn't. 

You'll be able to write up to 150 words for this section, but don’t worry if you use less.

3. How does your project involve your community? 

You'll be able to write up to 200 words for this section, but don’t worry if you use less.

We also ask you to read and agree to our terms and conditions
You can read the terms and conditions.

If you’re not sure about the sort of things we ask for when you apply
Contact us.

You can read our Data Protection statement to see how we use the personal data you give us.

How to apply

When you click on Apply, you’ll start your application. This will consist of:

  • Eligibility checker
  • Form 1: Your idea
  • Form 2: Bank account details.

You must complete all to submit your application.

Before you start, have your bank account details ready to fill in Form 2 straight after filling in Form 1: Your idea.

Please note - once you've completed and submitted Form 1, you will not be able to return to change anything on Form 1, even if you're still on Form 2.

What happens after you apply?

  1. You send us your application – we’ll assess it on a first come, first served basis. During this time, we'll look at your idea and do our security checks. You can find out more about the checks we do.
  2. If your application is successful – we'll send you an email with the good news. You can start your project as soon as you get this email, if you want to. And we’ll put the funding in your bank account within 14 days (or sooner if possible).
  3. You can start spending the fundingon your project – you have up until the 31 March 2021 to complete your plans and spend the grant. We might check in from time to time – to see how things are going.
  4. Share your story – let people know about your grant and the amazing work you are doing in your community. Sharing news about your project with your community can be a great way to keep them involved and engaged. Find out how to share your story and download the logo.
  5. We may contact some grant holders partway through their grant –  we may ask for your receipts or other updates to show how things are going.
  6. We'll contact you at the end of your funding – and ask you to send us stories pictures and videos which show us what you’ve done and who you’ve worked with. You may like to provide us with a case study, a brief report, pictures of your work, a video or a newspaper article. All of these are great opportunities to promote the great work you do and showcase your organisation.
  7. If your application is unsuccessful – if we cannot fund your applications, we’ll let you know as soon as we can. We're sorry but we cannot give feedback due to the volume of applications we're expecting. Remember, you can make a further application in phase 2 if you do not get funding in phase 1.

What happens when?

The following dates are approximate:

Applications for phase 1 opens - 5 January 2021

Applications for phase 1 closes - 26 January 2021

Decision made and payments made - Late January, early February 2021

Funded activity takes place - February to March 2021

Progress update - Approximately halfway through the activity period

All funds most have been spent and all activities completed - 31 March

End of grant learning - 31 March to mid-April 2021

The timeline for phase 2 will be agreed nearer the time.

Who can and cannot apply?

Who can apply

We're interested in hearing from small organisations - with an annual income of £50,000 or less – that are working to tackle loneliness by helping people feel more connected within their communities.

People understand what’s needed in their communities better than anyone. We know that different groups within different communities have different needs and so will need different levels of support. We want to hear directly from organisations as to who, in their community, needs additional assistance.

There will be £2 million available for each phase of funding. The budget will be split between regions according to population.

You can apply if you’re an organisation that serves communities within England and is one of the following:

  • a voluntary or community organisation
  • a registered charity
  • a not-for-profit company or Community Interest Company
  • a faith group (but we cannot fund religious activities)
  • a constituted group or club.

We cannot accept applications from:

  • individuals
  • sole traders
  • companies that can pay profits to directors, shareholders or members (including Companies Limited by Shares)
  • organisations based outside the UK
  • one organisation applying on behalf of another
  • unconstituted groups.

Please be aware that you can only receive one grant from this fund, whether in the first or second phase. We’re expecting a very high number of applications so we’ll assess and award these in date order.

If you’re unsuccessful for this first round of funding, you can apply for the second round in the summer of 2021.

Board or committee members
It’s really important that organisations that apply have at least two people on their board or committee who are not related.

By related, we mean:

  • married to each other
  • in a civil partnership with each other
  • in a long-term relationship with each other
  • living together at the same address
  • related by blood.

All companies who apply must have at least two directors who are not related in any of these ways. This also applies to companies that are also registered as charities.

If you’re not sure if you can apply
Contact us.

Progress updates

As the Fund is responsible to the public for the money we distribute, we need to have confidence that the funds you’ve received have had a positive impact on people and communities. We also want to learn from this funding, including what has worked well, and not so well for you, and how effective this method of distribution has been.

We have, and will continue to, work hard to make this work as simple and efficient as we can.

What will we be asking you for?

  • At the end of your grant, we’ll contact you so you can tell us about what you have done. You may like to provide us with a case study, pictures of your work, a video or a newspaper article. If you prefer to write a brief report, that will work too.
  • We may contact some grant holders part of the way through their grant. We may ask for sight of your receipts or other updates to show how things are going.

All of the above are great opportunities to promote the great work you do and showcase your organisation.

The projects we fund

What we can fund

This funding is available to small constituted voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations with an annual income of £50,000 or less. They must be able to contribute to reducing loneliness and isolation/build connections between people and communities.

The funding is to:

  • build relationships in and across communities to help reduce loneliness and build connections between people and communities
  • bring together organisations who are working on social connections to celebrate their work, share learning and best practice, and form/bring together peer networks.

This is to help make:

  • people and communities feel more connected
  • individuals feel supported and less lonely or isolated
  • people more aware of services available that help them to connect with others and get involved
  • organisations learn from each other.

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has, and continues to have, a significant impact on people’s lives. In addition, infection rates, and hence restrictions, can change quite quickly and vary both locally and nationally. So it’s very important that any activities carried out as a result of this funding must comply with current rules around social distancing and Government advice regarding the reduction/control of the virus.

So we encourage applicants to apply for funding for remote activities such as online and telephone activities, as well as safe and COVID-19-compliant work.

We understand that lack of digital skills, devices and access to the internet can be barriers to participation in online activities. This funding can be used to help you overcome these issues.

Further help with these issues can be found at:

We also encourage applications for work which strengthens eligible organisations such as:

  • staff/volunteer training and development, including digital skills
  • systems improvements, like communications, fundraising, leadership development
  • networking
  • sharing learning and best practice
  • development of materials
  • equipment
  • small-scale venue improvements.

If you’re not sure about the sorts of projects we fund
Contact us.

What you can spend the money on

We can fund most things that support the aims of the Fund. The lists below describe most of the things we can and cannot fund but it does not include everything. So, if you're not sure, contact us.

We can fund:

  • staff salaries
  • volunteer expenses
  • management costs
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • overheads
  • general project costs
  • small-scale equipment
  • small-scale venue improvements.

We cannot fund:

  • capital costs - capital can be large pieces of equipment, vehicles or the large-scale refurbishment of venues
  • activities where a profit will be distributed for private gain
  • retrospective costs (costs incurred/committed before your funding has been confirmed)
  • loan repayments
  • activities outside England
  • alcohol
  • items which will only benefit an individual or family, rather than the wider community
  • religious activity (although we can fund religious organisations if their project benefits the wider community and does not include religious content)
  • statutory activities
  • political activities.