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/ 4 August 2014

Is £500k+ in small grants in six years a good return?

In the six-plus years since 2008 projects in the Diocese have secured over £500k in small grants from the Church Urban Fund. The amount has been largely made up of awards from the Mustard Seed Grant Programme and now (2012/13) includes an amount from CUF’s partnership with London Catalyst and their joint Health and Belief Grants.

In my best Michael Caine voice I declare "not a lot of people know that."

However, with that said, I have pondered one question over a period of time: are parish projects all small granted out?

That question essentially comes from the fact that the number of applications to the small grants programmes is actively reducing and—despite a level of promotion—interest appears to be luke warm.

Managing the programme

When I first arrived here in mid-2008 the challenge was to see how much could be raised from CUF for work in the parishes. In that year we secured £60,261 from 18 applications and thus a bar had been set. Since then the annual fortunes of Diocesan projects has been vastly different with significant peaks in 2009 and 2011.

This table and chart shows the results of our annual activity from 2008-2013.

 200820092010201120122013
Bid Award£60,261£110,979£90,277£113,516£36,715£63,460
Bids182720372617*

Chart showing peaks of small grants awarded in 2009 and 2011

The two peak years of 2009 and 2011 were obviously rewarding but the telling factor in both was the absence of bids from Anglican parishes as opposed to other Christian denominations or faith groups.

*In 2013 the total was boosted by six successful bids from the Health and Belief Programme which received £31000.

The Church Urban Fund also reviewed aspects of its funding priorities these included projects:

  • Working in new and different ways with young people
  • Offering services to asylum seekers and refugees
  • Working to impact on homelessness and
  • Projects focussed on work with those with drug and alcohol misuse issues.

I am advised that many parishes didn’t apply to the programme from the end of 2012 through 2013 because they did not meet those criteria, they were and are not the exclusive determining factor.

A CUF Change of emphasis

At the end of 2013 the Church Urban Fund launched its Together Grants Programme with a £1m+ fund. They stated that they would:

  • accept bids from all parishes irrespective of deprivation indices
  • prioritise work where parishes were working together/in partnership with others and external agencies
  • consider bids that would enhance and extend the work of the organisation (NB. This would not be to help you to do more or the same – opening an additional day, but to advance the home visiting scheme into a lunch club) I trust that you understand the inference.

Although it seemed that the programme relaxed certain aspects I can report that as at the end of August 2014 the Diocese has submitted four bids to CUF. Three of these were supported.

The first of these funded within the Diocese was secured by All Souls Ivybridge for its ESOL and Bridgelink projects.

Coming to and listening to the information at the Area Bishop Community Ministry Days, the detail contained in the Beyond Sundays report and the conversations that I have had with many of you I am aware of some of the amazing work taking place and being planned however the bids still do not come through.

Again, I ask: are parish projects all small granted out?

This will be the subject of the next posting, for today the good and happy news is that projects within the Diocese have benefited from the receipt of this money and the people of our area have been able to access and participate in much needed activities and services.  You are all to be commended for that.

Thank you for all that you do. Here’s to the next £500k

For any CofE parish-based project wishing to discuss a small grant proposal or to talk about your funding needs please email me at marlon.nelson@nulllondon.anglican.org. Who knows—I might be able to signpost you to another source too.


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