Frome Town Council has announced the release of their new community grants following a redesign of the process. Councillors, staff and community organisations worked with Public Square to design a process to ensure that grant giving was fit for purpose and robust, whilst at the same time ensuring that it wasn’t too difficult for very busy community groups to access and apply.
Last financial year the council gave over £156,000 to support the support the community through funding for organisations. Some of this was given out via grants and some of this was given out through the People’s Budget – where the public are given the choice about where a portion of the budget is spent.
To make it more accessible the council has co-designed the community grants process with representatives from the community organisations to try and make the grants process easier and more transparent. The idea behind a co-design process is that the people who apply for the grants and the recipients, have a say in how that process works.
Councillor Mark Dorrington, Chair of the Grants Advisory Group, who take responsibility for scrutinising the applications, said: “We have over 200 community groups in Frome and often get more applications than we have money to grant. This council is committed to supporting the groups to support our community and it is really important to ensure the process is robust and fair whilst at the same time not too onerous for the groups. Co-designing the process with the organisations will hopefully encourage more groups to come forward and have ownership over the process. We are also looking at how the groups can be part of the decision-making process to make it open and transparent as ultimately that is better for us all.”
Andy Jones, who is a trustee for a number of community groups says: “It was fascinating to be part of the co-design process to stream-line the grant giving and make it more accessible to community groups; the main issues people raised were around the time it takes to fill out applications, time which could best be spent delivering charity outcomes, so simplifying the process was key. Everyone also highlighted how important it is that the process is transparent, and the timing of grant cycles is clearly communicated in advance. It felt good to be included in the workshop, allowing local people to be part of discussions to ensure a robust fit for purpose process into the future.”
The community grants round is now open for applications and will close on Sunday 28th Feb 2o21. Applications are invited for projects of benefit to Frome residents and need funding of between £300 – £3000. To apply, community groups must be a not for profit organisations with a constitution and a bank account with at least two signatories.
The Town Council has funded a wide range of projects in recent years through the community grants scheme. All benefit local people and some projects included Merlin Theatre, Toilet refurbishment, Jackdaws Music Education Trust ‘The Stylist of Somerset’, Frome Collegians Football Club Tractor repairs and training equipment, SWEDA (Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association) and Fair Housing for Frome.
Other organisations with more specific needs such as Fair Frome and Harry’s Hydro are funded through a different mechanism. The Substantial Grants will now also be looked at in a similar way ready for the next round to be open in April.
If you are you a community group or organisation looking for funding for a particular project or want to find out more details about the grants process and the application forms can be found at www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/grants. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.