It’s now less than three weeks until the 2017 Elephant & Castle Community Fund closes to entries – read about previous winners and how to make your project stand out!

The Elephant & Castle Community Fund 2017, delivered in partnership with Southwark Council, is open for entries and there are just under three weeks left to put in your bid for a share of the £50,000 fund for your project.

With past winners ranging from wellbeing initiatives to arts-based projects tackling mental health through creativity, the work of our recipients is helping to enrich the Elephant & Castle community and is making a difference to thousands of local residents. This year we’re particularly looking for entries in the following areas: 

• Further education, Skill Building, Training and Entrepreneurship
• Arts and Culture
• Green spaces
• Older residents

If you’ve got an initiative you think fits the bill and you’re interested in submitting a bid on behalf of your organisation or project, take a look at the work of some of our previous successful recipients for inspiration and don’t miss our top tips from our partner the London Community Foundation on making your bid stand out.

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Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) – reducing social isolation
We are proud to have supported a number of organisations with a focus on community and wellbeing and a prime example of this is the £5,000 that we awarded to the LAWRS. This is a fantastic organisation which focuses on delivering a programme of support to improve the wellbeing of older women from the Latin American community. The programme had four strands; 

1. Recreational activities: these included weekly yoga, a Mother’s Day party and an accessible cycling session.

2. Access to information: in response to the women’s interests, workshops included confidence in speaking English, talking about violence against women and girls, craft activities and how to notice signs of dementia. Weekly English sessions were run throughout the duration of the project.

3. Participation in community activities: this included a project to compose a choral piece for the opening of the new building at the Tate Modern; the 50th Fiesta Latina, organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Draper Estate

4. Access to basic services: throughout the funded period a member of staff or a volunteer was available to help the women with any issues around accessing basic services, such as housing, paying bills, state pensions, pension credits, doctors’ appointments and immigration.

The initiatives had a clear and tangible benefit to the community with many of the women, who don’t speak fluent English and haven’t had the ability to build a social network, reporting that the project helped them to substantially reduce their social isolation.

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Mouth That Roars – building confidence and creative skills among young people
We were delighted to be able to award a grant of £4,700 to deliver a three-month project for marginalised young people to create a short film which explored Elephant and Castle’s past, present and future. The group engaged 45 young people as well as 15 local residents/politicians and developers. Not only did the young people develop creative skills through producing the film from start to finish but they also learnt how to work as a team and gained confidence as a result of taking part in film processes such as presenting, interviewing and sharing ideas. Eleven young people received an ASDAN accreditation and some talked about going on to study film in further education. The final piece was screened at Peckham Plex cinema, Pembroke House, Blackfriars Settlement and at a Southwark Youth Council meeting. It can be viewed here.

If these brilliant projects have inspired you to put in a bid, you’re in luck as we’ve put together some top tips with help from Donna Yay, Senior Programme & Learning Manager from the London Community Foundation to give your application the very best chances of success. 

Here’s what Donna told us: 

How to make your application stand out

1. Format: how should you lay out your entry to set it apart?
We’ve kept it really simple and clear to make sure it’s easy to enter your project. There is an online form to complete where you will need to answer questions about your organisation and your project. You can find it here with all the info you need to get started.

2. Information: what are the most important things to include?
It’s really important to show us how your project will respond to a need within your community. In other words, what evidence do you have that your project is wanted or needed? We especially like to see that you have spoken to the people who the project will be benefitting, and ideally that they have helped to design or shape the project. We don’t fund projects which are ‘parachuted’ into an area, we prefer to support projects, which grow from the communities themselves.

3. Impact: how can organisations best communicate what they’re setting out to do?
The best way to describe the impact of your project is to think about the change that you want to see happen – these are the outcomes of your project. Outcomes use words like ‘improve’, ‘increase’, ‘reduce’, etc. Think about how you will measure these outcomes and how you will know if these changes have taken place. We will be looking to see that the activities that you propose will – a) respond to the need you have identified, and b) lead to the changes that you want to happen.

4. Pitfalls: what are the most common places where entries fall down?
Not meeting the criteria of the fund. The Fund Guidelines will tell you everything you need to know about the fund. If you are not sure about any of it please call us to check. When writing your application make sure that you address at least one of the fund’s themes. We won’t be able to support your project if it doesn’t meet one of the themes, no matter how interesting your idea is. And spell things out for us! Don’t assume we know everything about the subject area – explain things to us so we can understand your project clearly.

5. Highlights: and what makes them wow the judges?  
An application that shows the passion of those who are running the organisation or project. Tell us your story – how your organisation came about, what you want to achieve, and any success stories you have had so far. We want to support the projects that will really make a difference, tell us how your project can do that.

If you are not sure about anything, or if you would like to run your project idea past us, give us a call so we can advise you. Community Southwark are also great and can offer advice on funding and training on writing better funding applications.