Community Kick-Start Fund: An Update and Looking Forward

11 Jan 2018

It’s been almost two years since we first launched the BAB Community Kick-Start fund, way back in March 2016. The launch of the fund introduced a unique way for Bristol-based groups to access support to start new activities to reduce isolation and loneliness, or to increase the number of older people they are able to reach.

The fact that as a grant holder, we cannot give money directly to groups to help them develop their ideas – rather, we directly pay for all items or services the project requires – initially seemed like it might be a hindrance to our ability to support as many new, innovative, and effective projects as possible.

However, with nearly 100 funded projects under our belt, we’ve found that the exact opposite has been true – the fact that we deal with all of the financial administration has meant that we can support a far wider range of people, as applicants are exempt from the usual policy, financial, and organisational checks that are required when offering conventional small grants.

This has meant that we’ve been able to support many groups of older people, ensuring that BAB’s ethos of ensuring work is asset-based and directed by the people it aims to support is strongly reflected in the diverse portfolio of projects supported through the fund. For a comprehensive list of all of the groups we’ve supported so far, you can look at the dedicated page on the website, as well as at our interactive Google map which gives you further information such as which at-risk groups each project is working with.

The primary aim of the fund is to provide a relatively small amount of funding to help get regular activities off the ground, which will become financially sustainable once all of the items have been paid for.

The sustainability aspect has been one of the greatest challenges in managing the fund, and though not all activities have been able to continue indefinitely a great proportion have, through either being volunteer-led, funding fundraising avenues such as selling items they have created, or empowering older people to continue the activities themselves without the need for professional facilitation.

Many projects have also only required equipment to get going – such as sewing machines for craft groups, and tools for woodworking sessions – which has meant that they don’t have ongoing running costs to consider.

The fund has been regarded as so successful that several other areas funded through the Lottery’s ‘Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better’ programme have set up similar schemes, and in November we led a learning event to share our model and tips and tricks for programme management staff with similar aims.

The fund also caught the eye of St. Monica Trust, and last summer we were delighted to receive funding from them to support 6 Kick-Start funded projects to develop their ideas further and reach a much larger number of people.

None of this would have been possible without the support of our incredible Older Persons Commissioning Panel – a group of volunteers all aged over 50 who review all the applications we receive and have also helped shape the assessment criteria to ensure we are effectively assessing whether or not the proposed project will have a long-term effect on older people’s wellbeing. Our nine volunteers work incredibly hard and provide exceptional insight into which aspects of each project are likely to work and which may still need more consideration.

The Test and Learn model we follow at BAB means we are continually improving our work based on experience, and for that reason we are not funding any new projects through Kick-Start this month, but instead are taking time to discuss the successes and challenges of the past couple of years with our Panel.

It’s likely we’ll make a few tweaks to the application form based on this, and will re-publish it to the website by the end of January in good time for the next deadline in March 2018. We’ll then have a year’s worth of quarterly panels left in the programme, and we’re so excited to see the variety of new ideas that we’re able to help get off the ground!

Are you interested in applying to the fund? If so, keep an eye out on the project page, where you can read through the guidance notes and also download the form once it’s on there by the end of January. We are also looking at running a short, free ‘masterclass’ to give potential applicants advice on developing a project idea, so if you are interested in signing up for this please contact Bianca at biancarossetti@ageukbristol.org.uk or by calling 0117 9281539. 


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