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Help us promote the Community Support Fund (CSF)

What is the opportunity?

The Community Support Fund (CSF) is providing £1.5 million (as part of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) wider Recovery Fund) to support residents most disproportionately affected by COVID, to achieve better economic outcomes.

There is overwhelming evidence to show COVID has affected specific groups and this fund aims to target the very real risk that those furthest form the labour market before the pandemic are now even more at risk from poorer health and wellbeing, economic, educational and employment outcomes. The fund will support residents, groups or communities who face the greatest impacts, risks and detrimental social, health and economic impact(s) as a result of the pandemic.

Funding will prioritise improving pathways to employment and skills for the most vulnerable in our communities. It will deliver grass routes interventions aimed at establishing progression routes for individuals into training, education employment and/or career progression. We are looking for activity which will improve:

  • Strengthened communities and social cohesion
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Financial inclusion and resilience
  • Opportunities to volunteer in projects that improve pride of place and environmental awareness

Funding will be awarded to voluntary and community sector (VCS) groups and projects that offer innovative solutions that strengthen inclusion, through targeted interventions that support one or more of the following:

  • Addressing the impact of COVD on people – helping to them to ‘rebuild’ (i.e. through new or improved life skills and access to advice, guidance and support), and gain the confidence to move closer to and/or into employment;
  • Local voluntary, community or not-for-profit organisational projects which help groups of vulnerable residents and communities across the West of England to recover (both economically and socially) from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Emotional and mental health wellbeing activities helping to foster social community cohesion that will have a legacy impact/benefit on communities post the pandemic;
  • Reducing barriers to accessing pre-existing adult education available within communities. Projects must demonstrate how they will support progression/pathways onto adult education which will thus in turn result in improved skills and access to employment and work opportunities with measurable employment and/or skills outcomes and progressions;
  • Outreach projects or services (either face-to-face or online) tackling social exclusion. Rather than being digital training courses (for which there is already significant provision across the West of England), these projects or services are likely to be specific, targeted and adapted to supporting the most vulnerable within our communities and addressing the impact(s) of social isolation; and
  • Promoting the current digital entitlement offer and provision to residents in the hardest to reach areas. This includes rural communities where inclusion and engagement can be challenging;
  • Raise awareness of and access to community and cultural activities which foster strong community links, cohesion and resilience. Projects will be linked and signposted to (where appropriate) to the Cultural and Creative Fund.

The CSF will support around 1000 residents and as a result of engagement with the programme:

  • 100% of individuals will be directed towards some form of employability, skills training and/or education.
  • 65% of individuals will progress into some form of employability, skills training and/or education.

Key to these projects is that they do not stand alone and there are clear partnerships with wider regional and national programmes which can help achieve the above for example; links to existing AEB funded provision, kickstart, Restart, National Careers Service, Work and Heath Programme Job Entry Targeted Support JETs, Future Bright to name just a few.

Community Support Fund

Who will be eligible for support?

Participants will be residents within Bath and North and East Somerset, Bristol or South Gloucestershire.

It is anticipated that those benefitting from support through the programme will be those most vulnerable in our community including those who have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19. They may also have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Individuals, groups or communities furthest from the labour market
  • Long term unemployed
  • People trapped in low paid positions/underemployed
  • Groups that tend to be underrepresented e.g. women, young people, BAME, people with a health condition/disability, people over 50, lone parents and those with other caring responsibilities
Community Support Fund

How much funding can voluntary and community groups apply for?

Various grant sizes will be available:

  • Small grants of between £1K - £9,999K
  • Medium sized grants of between £10K - £50K
  • Large sized grants at £50K- £100K for exceptional proposals which are multi-partner approaches addressing the same issues across differing communities and/or cross-boundary geographies. These proposals will require an element of match funding (either financial and/or in kind) if 10% or above.

These Grants will be awarded through an open and competitive process and projects awarded funding will be evaluated based on their ability to deliver project outcomes, particularly where project deliver robust progression rates into some form of employability, skills training and/or education. The first funding round is due to be launched Mid-September 2021 with the remainder of the funding being made available in Spring 2022.

We encourage groups with existing plans who have put forward application for recent similar funding but not been successful to apply as well as new innovative ideas which build on specific needs or community assets.

Community Support Fund

How do voluntary and community groups apply?

The first round of funding will be launched Autumn 2021. The Combined Authority are hosting a virtual Market Engagement Event over Zoom for interested community and voluntary groups and wider stakeholders who may wish to partner on projects. Details will be available on the website shortly - please check back soon.

If you want to register to receive direct information about the initial funding launch, please contact Nichola Wallworth quoting “CSF Funding Call” in the title of the email to skills@westofengland-ca.gov.uk

When live all application documents and guidance can be found on the website link above.

Community Support Fund

What are we looking for you to do?

We are calling on people who work with community and voluntary sector groups who could benefit from this funding to support us in promoting this fund with your contacts and networks.

We have provided an additional communication for VCS groups – please use this to help with the below activity.

We would ask you to:

  • Promote and talk about the programme through your networks and community contacts, sharing key dates. If you want the project team to come along and speak to a group we will endeavour to be there.
  • Encourage groups to submit proposals who have missed out on other funding rounds for similar projects.
  • Support community and voluntary groups where you can to help with their applications and signpost them to wider partnerships which will support their project plans and strengthen the quality of proposals.
  • Share the link to the Community Support Fund page where groups can find out more information about the programme and how to apply for the funding.
  • Promote the Market Engagement event detailed above and share with your contacts details of how they can register for the event.

For further information, please contact Nichola Wallworth skills@westofengland-ca.gov.uk quoting “CSF Funding Call” in the title of the email.