Small Grants Scheme 2021: Preliminary Results

The BEARR Trust’s 2021 Small Grants Scheme sought applications from across the region for projects to “reduce the social isolation of people living with disadvantage”. We did not specify the beneficiaries: instead, applicants were asked to describe the problems faced by the people they wished to help. Previous BEARR grantees were also invited to apply for some additional funding to help improve their organisational resilience as they adjusted to working under Covid conditions. 

We asked for projects that would:  

  • involve partnership with, or extend collaboration to, other local organisations;  
  • have an imaginative or unusual approach to reducing social isolation; and 
  • try to extend provision of support to other groups of people facing disadvantage or marginalisation resulting from their age, ability, ethnicity, gender or sexuality, or because of geography. 

We received 227 grant applications. Over 60 per cent came from Ukraine, with at least one application from every other country in BEARR’s region.  

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We observed a very diverse range of beneficiaries: children and older people; single mothers; LGBT people; rural agricultural workers; young drug users; ethnic minorities; people living with disabilities; and internally displaced people (IDPs). Many applicants gave detailed descriptions of problems faced by people who were isolated for reasons ranging from community prejudice to disability. 

We were pleased to see that some projects were led by the beneficiaries themselves, and several were based on creating self-help and peer-support groups. Project themes included IT assistance and training in digital technologies; assistance with setting up social enterprises; vocational training and access to employment opportunities and housing. We received several imaginative proposals for inter-generational activities to reduce isolation, bringing together older and younger people in befriending schemes, or to learn how to cook or garden together, for example. While most projects had a local focus, some had the capacity to scale up to national level. 

Each application was reviewed by at least two members of the assessment team, who produced a shortlist for final decisions by the BEARR trustee board. As in previous years, the trustees regretted that it was not possible to fund all projects on the shortlist, although BEARR has been able to increase the funds available for the Small Grants Scheme this year. 

A full list of grant winners and a description of their projects will be published in the near future. 

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