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VCSE COVID-19 Recovery Grant Application Guidance Notes

The purpose of this funding is to support capacity within the Stevenage Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in the recovery of Stevenage communities from COVID-19.

Funding must be spent on issues such as rent, rates, insurance, PPE and other COVID compliant infrastructure, including additional admin as required by your organisation to continue to provide your services within Stevenage.

For example:

  • To subsidise costs where income is reduced (but overheads remain the same or are increased) as a result of COVID related issues.
  • To set up additional groups to support the Stevenage community in its COVID recovery.
  • To work in partnership with another organisation to increase your community reach and plan a more sustainable future.

What can be funded

This is an unrestricted fund for organisations which have been directly supporting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is to primarily support organisations which have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples of what can be funded include:

  • Rent and rates
  • Insurance
  • PPE
  • Equipment
  • IT and subscriptions
  • COVID-19 compliance

What cannot be funded

  • Items which benefit an individual.
  • Activities we deem to promote or be linked to religious or political ideologies or beliefs.
  • Projects involving improvement or repair to buildings which are the responsibility of another statutory body.
  • Activities that are the responsibility of another statutory body.
  • Capital projects in schools or improvements to roads, pavements or associated items , for example, bus stop, street lighting.
  • Projects that take place outside Stevenage.
  • New projects yet to start. If you would like to apply for a grant for a new project, please apply for our Local Community Budget (LCB) Scheme instead.

Who can apply

Please note: If you have already applied to the HPB funding and been rejected, please contact your Community Development Officer for further advice.

Constituted groups:

Any voluntary or community group can apply, including those already in receipt of other funds.

These groups must comply with the following conditions:

  • Hold a bank account in the name of the group, requiring at least two signatories,
  • Have a Management Committee of at least three people,
  • Be non-profit making or a social enterprise where profits are reinvested for community or social benefit,
  • Operate with no undue restrictions on membership.

Non-constituted groups:

Informal / grass roots / non-constituted groups can apply. They must provide a letter of endorsement from a constituted charitable organisation, a local Councillor, Police Community Support Officer or other similar representative on their organisations headed paper.

What do I need to evidence?

You will need to evidence how your organisation is part of containing COVID and preventing the disease from impacting Stevenage residents and communities, whilst also supporting COVID recovery.

You will need to confirm what other grants you have tried to access whether successful or not and provide recent financial accounts. We cannot duplicate funding for costs already claimed. Any deviation in spend of the funding must be agreed by the awarding panel first.

We suggest collaboration in applications such as community centres applying for a total sum to help support a range of groups that use the centre. This would be particularly applicable in relation to venue hire, PPE and extra cleaning or staffing for the groups themselves and/or the centres.

If your activity works with children, young people or vulnerable adults you will need to have appropriate safeguarding procedures in place which will need to be made available.

You will also have relevant policies and procedures in relation to Health and Safety, and COVID-safe working.

Your activities will comply with the Equalities Act 2010 and you will have relevant Equality and Diversity policies in place.

When can I apply?

Applications will be open from 15 September to 22 October 2021. Applications will be assessed within two weeks of the funding closing and applicants will be notified of the panel’s decision.

How do I apply?

All applications and associated documents (see below) must be submitted using the on-line application process. If you are unable to apply online, or provide documents at the time of application please contact us.

How much can I apply for?

Applicants can apply for between £1,500 and £7,500.

Covid Recovery Grant Application - opens new window

What documentation will I need to supply with my application?

Constituted groups:

  • Constitution (or set of rules)
  • Insurance certificate/s
  • A full set of most recent accounts, audited or otherwise certified
  • A recent bank statement
  • Planning and building regulation consents (if appropriate)
  • Quotes (if your application involves purchasing goods or services)
  • Safeguarding policy including safe recruitment and training
  • Equalities policy or statement.

Non-Constituted Groups:

  • Letter of endorsement (from a constituted charitable organisation, local Councillor, Police Community Support Officer or other similar representative on their organisation’s headed paper) when you submit your application.
  • Quotes (if your application involves purchasing goods or services)
  • Copy of Public Liability Insurance (if applicable)
  • Basic financial information held by the group (if any)

Will I be expected to show value for money?

If your application involves paying for goods/services, you will be expected to show how you have secured the best value option and given consideration to Community Wealth Building. Any relevant quotes and breakdowns must be submitted with your application. Invoices and receipts for purchases made with funds must be kept for inspection if requested.

How will my application be assessed?

Applications will be assessed by a grant panel and will be scored according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • Supporting the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.
  • Supporting the Council’s priorities and strategies including Community Wealth Building and Tackling Climate Change.
  • The extent to which your organisation met a community need during the pandemic and incurred costs or are incurring costs as a consequence.
  • The local partnership working you have built to create a more sustainable future.
  • The sustainability of your organisation.

What else do I need to know?

Funds can only be paid to organisational bank accounts and NOT into personal bank accounts. Bank details will be requested if your application is successful. Please do not send bank details with your application. If your application is unsuccessful, you may appeal the decision. However, it cannot be guaranteed funds will still be available, therefore, it is advised to carefully check your application against the criteria before submitting it. You should contact your Community Development Officer if you have any queries or need support.

Grants should be spent within six months of receipt and by 31 March 2022 at the very latest. Any unspent funds will need to be returned within the same timeframe. Your accounts must be available for audit purposes should this be required.

A Monitoring form will need to be completed, along with photographs and testimonials from community beneficiaries. These must be submitted within four weeks of the end of your funding. Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) may wish to use certain information from these submissions for promotional purposes on social media and in printed copy. SBC being credited in any promotional materials relating to these funds and their use.

Please note that we will be unable to assess any application where mandatory fields are not completed.

If you require further support, guidance or advice please contact the Community Development team.

For reference / further information

5 Ways to Wellbeing are as follows and can be viewed in detail here: 

Connect

There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.

This could be encouraging new people to get involved with your group, club or project, initiatives which get people talking and listening, or any other ways you can think of to help people make a connection, even digitally.

Be active

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups, physical activity has also been linked to lowering risk of serious complications from COVID-19. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being. But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good - slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.

This could be a club which encourages people to get active, try out a new activity or get back into sport.

Take notice

Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances well-being and ‘savouring the moment’ can help to reaffirm life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances self-understanding and allows positive choices to be made, based on values and motivations.

This could be a project that helps people to take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment.

Learn

Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing.

This could be a group that has an opportunity for participants to learn new skills.

Give

Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. During lockdown, numbers of people volunteering to help in their community rose sharply, people who volunteered their time reported an increase in their wellbeing and said they felt it gave them a greater sense of purpose.

This could be an organisation that encourages people to give their time and volunteer.