Not for Profit

New fund launched to help Dorset’s groups and charities boost wellbeing and mental health

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: January 14, 2024 | Updated: 14th January 2024

A new fund has been launched offering grants of up to £40,000 a year to grass roots charities and voluntary groups supporting wellbeing and mental health.

Resulting from a partnership between Dorset Community Foundation, Community Action Network and NHS Dorset, the Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund, open to applications until 1st March, will offer grants of up to £80,000 over two years or £10,000 over one year.

It is open to groups running community based, non-clinical services and activities for adults aged 18 and above which focus on wellbeing and mental health. A second application round is planned for the summer with grants of up to £10,000.

The fund complements the Access Wellbeing programme, a new way of delivering mental health and wellbeing services in Dorset, in partnership with the NHS, councils and the voluntary and community sector.

Dorset Community Foundation grants manager Ellie Maguire said: “Dorset Health Care, Community Action Network and NHS Dorset are working together with partners across the system to develop a universal community wellbeing offer across Dorset, including wellbeing hub development.

“This funding programme aims to compliment these plans, by supporting activities delivered by the local voluntary sector that provide other community based wellbeing services with an early intervention approach.”

She said the fund will support early intervention services and activities that help people improve their wellbeing and mental health, projects that empower people to build resilience and help those living with mental health conditions to take part in activities that aid their recovery and wellbeing.

“Priority will be given to projects in communities experiencing health inequalities, including people living in areas of high deprivation and those who are socially excluded and experience multiple risk factors for poor health,” said Mrs Maguire.

Mark Smith, Principal Programme Lead for NHS Dorset’s Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism team, said: “We are really excited to be able to work with the voluntary sector and Dorset Community Foundation to distribute significant funds to smaller, local organisations who operate in the heart of their communities.

“We know that lots of great work happens in local communities to support people’s mental health and wellbeing and that social inclusion and meaningful activity is so important in a person’s recovery from mental health challenges. This is a fantastic opportunity and we look forward to exciting projects and initiatives over the coming months.”

Groups applying for the one year funding must spend it within six month to a year, beginning within two months of the award. The two year grants will be paid in two instalments with the second instalment only to be paid pending receipt of a satisfactory report at the end of year one.

Dorset Community Foundation chairman of trustees Tom Flood said: “I am delighted that the NHS has entrusted us with this fund and that it recognises our ability to not only design a funding programme that meets the funder’s goals but then deliver it efficiently and effectively.

“The projects that this new fund will enable will help communities look after their most vulnerable people and in doing so, we hope they will be taking some of the pressure off our already stretched NHS services.”

Karen Loftus, Chief Executive at Community Action Network said “CAN has been working hard to bring more investment into Dorset’s amazing charities and community groups, as we know what important work they can do.

“So, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Dorset Community Foundation and NHS Dorset to make this reality. Our role will be to get alongside groups to ensure they are funding ready and have all the tools they need to effectively deliver the work and demonstrate the positive impact on the people they serve.”

CAN and the community foundation are holding a series of information events about the Access Wellbeing Programme and on applying to the Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund.

Details about the information days, eligibility and how to apply for the grants can be found at dorsetcommunityfoundation.org, emailing [email protected] or calling 07592 032666.

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