Although the national grants service was paused in 2020, many groups continue to offer grants at a local level. We've updated our guidance about assessing grants at local groups, and amended the application documents to reflect changes and remove mentions of the National Grants Team.
The new guidance and documents are available to download below.
We’ve heard feedback that you’d like more opportunities to talk about grants with other group volunteers. So, we’ve set up Zoom sessions for all volunteers involved in grants to connect with others.
Zoom sessions for all volunteers involved in grants, with a focus on what groups need in place to offer a grants service, and how to assess grant applications.
Updates and development work
Last year we collected feedback from volunteers about the challenges faced by groups giving grants. We’ve set up a grants working group which will meet regularly to look at these challenges and what changes we can make to improve grant giving for groups.
Grants guidance documents
- Download the grant giving process overview for a summary of the key stages in the grant giving process
- Download the grant giving - good practice guide for groups 2021 for a more detailed overview of awarding Health & Wellbeing Grants and Carers Grants
- Download a quick reference list of grant categories and maximum grant amounts - updated to show both the 2020 changes and the previous amounts
- Download the group grants record template for a simple form to track your group’s grant decisions and budget
- Download the grants - financial assessment tool to help you prioritise applicants in most financial need
- Download the grants - impact assessment tool to help you prioritise applications that will have the most impact
- Download a Health and Wellbeing Grant application form
- Download the Health & Wellbeing application form guidance notes
- Download the additional funding information form to help you gather information from a grant applicant to try to find other sources of funding (if your group offers this support)
Health & Wellbeing Grants support people with MS. They can help pay for mobility aids and home adaptations (where statutory funding is unavailable), equipment, respite and other things an applicant feels will make a positive and lasting impact on their life.
Before the national grants programme was paused, we'd already had to make a quick decision to reduce the grants budget for 2020 because of reduced income. This led to some difficult decisions about how to use limited funds to create maximum impact for those most in need, and changes to Health & Wellbeing Grants.
The key changes agreed for the national grants programme and recommended for local groups from January 2020 were:
Reducing applicants’ savings limit from £16,000 to £6,000.
Reducing list of items we could consider by removing items that our Grants Panel felt had lower impact or more potential to have other funding options.
We stopped considering grants for: standard holidays, Motability advance payments, car adaptations, driveways, gardens, driving lessons, domestic repairs or complementary therapies.
- Reducing the maximum award for each type of item.
We aimed to keep national and local grant giving aligned, but did not want to impose changes on those groups who award grants, without consultation. Due to the timescales involved we were unable to consult at that stage. It was therefore decided that groups could either keep awarding grants under the previous categories and maximum grant amounts, or choose to adopt the new rules above, depending on their own budgets.
We know that COVID-19 has meant reduced income for many groups, so we suggest you follow the new rules that were introduced for the national grants programme. However, groups with higher funds can still choose to follow the previous rules for the time being. We’ll work with volunteers to develop a grant-giving programme that meets the needs of the MS community and is practical for groups to deliver. We’re also keen to explore possible solutions to the issue that grants aren’t available to people in all areas.
Groups can also choose to award grants to carers under the separate Carers grants.
Our Carers Grant Fund considers applications from carers of all ages for a broad range of items and activities. This fund values the important role played by families and carers in the lives of people with MS.
The form has been updated and there is now space at the end where you can add in your group's details and any information for the applicant.
Support for groups assessing grant applications
In the past, groups that needed help to assess applications could send them to the national Grants Team to consider. Sadly, we no longer have a central Grants Team, and we don’t have the capacity for staff to consider applications on behalf of groups.
We’ll be working with groups to explore possible solutions to the challenges created by this situation. In the meantime, we’d like to suggest that some of our groups might want to explore working together on grant giving. So, if you have the funds to offer a grant, but can’t assess an application, you could ask another local group that's experienced in considering grants whether they could assess the application for you.
The Volunteer Support Team can give you details of groups that are local to you, so that you can get in touch to find out if they're able to help. At the moment, we can’t tell you which groups will be in a position to help, but we’ll be building up this information so that we can help link groups up going forwards.
If you’re a group with experience of considering grants, and feel you can offer this support to other groups, please let the Volunteer Support Team know, so that we can start building this information.
Contact the Volunteer Support Team:
[email protected] or call 0300 500 8084 - option #3. Working hours: 9-5 Monday to Friday (closed on bank holidays and over the festive period).