Community Capacity and Resilience Fund
SCVO Update Report
The Community Capacity and Resilience Fund focuses on small, local, grassroots, community-based organisations to pilot ideas that will help them mitigate the impact of welfare reform and social inequality. It is designed to provide easier access to funding for those organisations that might not have had the opportunity or capacity to do so before.
This was a clear need that arose from the research undertaken by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) in 2014 into the significant effect of welfare reform in Scotland. The research found that funding for welfare mitigation was largely reaching intermediary and advice functions rather than frontline activity. It concluded that a different approach was needed to ensure support for a wider range of community-based organisations working directly with people affected by welfare cuts.
The fund aims to encourage innovative and creative projects, to have a preventative impact in communities, to combat inequality and promote social inclusion, and to assist work mitigating the ramifications of welfare reform. It intends to support local organisations whose work is likely to bring about significant results in their communities and encourage partnership working.
Launched on 20 April 2015 by SCVO in partnership with Scottish Government, the fund invited applications from third sector and community organisations with an annual income of £200,000 or less in the 2014/15 financial year. Funding amounting to £144,500 was available for the 2015/16 financial year.
This report shares learning based on the interim reports from the funded projects and SCVO’s experience in managing the fund in order to help shape future welfare reform mitigation programmes.
Interim reports from funded organisations
Results from the interim reports, covering the first three months of the funding period (August – October 2015), are summarised below.
Progress achieving project aims
Based on the interim reports, the fund appears to be particularly helpful in providing capacity for helping initiatives get off the ground, helping to promote services, and securing new venues. It is also providing poverty, benefits advice and food training for staff and volunteers to better equip them to support vulnerable people.
Examples of the diverse aims being met include assisting clients to challenge benefit decisions, provision of emergency food aid or community meals, setting up job clubs, holding consultation events on the impact of welfare reform on LGBT plus people, giving information sessions and food parcels to the Gypsy Traveller community, building community relationships by increasing drop-in hours, providing youth welfare advice volunteer training and financial coaching sessions, and allowing an island community to access the nearest shop across the water.
- For the most part, organisations are on track to meet the project aims set out in their applications by the end of January, and some have eclipsed them already.
- A few organisations have reported a slow start to their projects due to recruitment or venue delays.
Progress reaching intended people
“Four volunteers from Castlemilk Against Austerity came to the training – they have no funding and would have not been able to afford to pay for CPAG’s training courses without CCRF funding.” South East Integration Network
Vulnerable people are attending drop-in clinics, social spaces, community cafes, presentations and information sessions. Projects have recruited a wide range of volunteers and advisors to training programmes.
Organisations are reaching new audiences and providing them with information about further services in the area. Referrals are increasing to advice organisations, both from organisations and importantly via word of mouth in the community. Drop-in services are getting repeat visits, where applicable.
Organisations are reporting that feedback from service users is positive and the effects of projects can be seen.
Information on service users is being collected, to ensure they fit the intended targets of projects. Surveys and referrals forms are being used to monitor client profiles. Some organisations have been overwhelmed with requests for assistance.
“Some of these partnerships may have been possible without the fund, but the CCRF has been a vital catalyst and facilitator…” Shetland Islands Credit Union
“This relationship might have been difficult to form without the fund, since it provided Souper Saturday with a stability which allowed us to think about expanding the ways in which we work.” Souper Saturday
The Fund has enabled some organisations to consolidate existing partnership by providing more capacity to build relationships. Some projects have partnerships that would not have developed without the fund. Funded projects are influencing the start of partnership working in some cases. Funding is also allowing some projects to take part in networks.
- Two projects report being unable to start some of the partnerships they had planned, but they are hoping these will develop before the fund period is over.
- In another two cases, partnerships have been made between CCRF recipients – Sunny Govan Radio and Crookston Community Group, as well as (hopefully) SHAX and Solway Credit Union.
- Overall, relationships have been made with a variety of partners including local councils, advice centres, third sector interfaces, local sports teams, housing associations, two local DWP offices, advice networks, local health boards, local colleges, credit unions, BME organisations, law centres and literacy services.
Lessons learned so far by fund recipients
“It is necessary to build relationships with people before being able to effectively work with them on their finances. They are subsequently more engaged with any intervention.” Forres Area Credit Union
- Various organisations report on the challenge of finding adequate facilities to either start their projects or continue with the service after funding ends. Venues need to be as accessible as possible in order for programmes to be available to all.
- Some organisations have reported they are learning as they go, changing events to be more accessible to specific audiences.
- Various organisations have mentioned that complex partnership working takes time, more than anticipated, especially when the other partner does not prioritise at the same level. One project mentioned that a dedicated link officer had accelerated the pace of partnership working.
- A couple of projects mention that reaching and engaging the target market to talk about universal credit is particularly difficult when it hasn’t affected people in the area yet.
- Organisations are reporting that they’ve learned they must actively promote the service to the very vulnerable and isolated otherwise they will never find what’s available.
- A number of projects mention that things in their communities are getting worse, so six months of a project is not enough.
- Community projects are recognising that staff and volunteers have limitations and might need to take time out, which can put a strain on the rest of the team. Capitalising on the wealth of experience and ability that many members of our community possess is a challenging process.
- Projects report the difficulty in engaging some audiences and that fliers and posters are not as effective at delivering information as directly putting people in touch with the services they require.
- An organisation reports that it is necessary to work with community leaders to identify people who need assistance, as BME groups do not connect with public or voluntary services for a variety of reasons.
- One organisation reports it has discovered some LGBT individuals are perceiving latent homophobia, biphobia and transphobia amongst health, ATOS and benefits agency staff, which is an extra barrier to overcome.
Some organisations included case studies, testimonials and photos with their application (see Appendix 5).
While some organisations may need assistance putting together funding applications and financial accounts, they do not need help with running their projects. The vast majority of them are doing extremely well and making a positive difference to people’s lives and to communities.
- Organisations are excelling at flexibly managing their projects, adapting to the needs of their client groups and changing their activities accordingly.
- Finding an appropriate venue is a barrier for a number of organisations. Either the community doesn’t have something suitable, or it is too expensive.
- There are many lessons to be learned from the funded projects, from the value of a dedicated link worker in developing partnerships to learning how to effectively build relationships with target audiences to how to run a successful community project.
- Communities have hard-working, compassionate people with solid grassroots knowledge of the relevant issues in the area and the people who are affected by them. With a small amount of funding, these communities are improving the lives of countless vulnerable people.
Managing the Fund
Delivering the fund – lessons learned
The administration of the fund and the high level of support required by applicants was much more intensive than had been anticipated. In order to deliver the fund successfully to frontline organisations and keep to deadlines, we had to divert resources from other projects. This means the true cost of delivering such intensive support is hidden. For future we must be aware of, plan for and accurately cost for the capacity and administrative impact of delivering funds.
Revising the grant application form with a focus on greater guidance and a more structured format would both assist organisations with less fundraising-experience and reduce administration time. This might guide applicants to include the most relevant information, resulting in less chasing for missing information and providing a level playing field for all organisations. Additionally, sample applications would give further guidance.
Other learning points:
- Increasing the targeted promotion of the fund would continue to ensure a spread of projects across Scotland.
- The continued provision of an online system to access applications and supporting evidence in addition to the hardcopy applications makes assessing bids more efficient for the decision making panel.
- Evaluation meetings for successful applicants help to focus organisations on the outcomes of their projects and provide an invaluable opportunity to network.
Some insights gained from delivering the fund
- In regards to completing applications and meeting requirements of a funding process, it is apparent that some very small grassroots organisations have one or two members carrying out multiple roles, without any fundraising or project co-ordination experience. Some are new or small community organisations without structured finance systems.
- Some organisations have highly effective people running projects, but they may have neither the confidence nor the IT or written skills to complete an application without assistance.
- Some people are extremely stretched, trying to run community projects in their spare time and do not have time or capacity for meetings or communication.
- Unfortunately, it is generally these organisations who do not receive grant assistance. If we would like to encourage and support the amazing and essential work that these organisations are doing, we need to investigate how to effectively support them in funding applications and beyond.
- However, it is clear from the range of submitted project ideas and the evaluation meeting with grant recipients that these grassroots organisations know their communities inside and out. They are extremely aware of the issues that vulnerable people are dealing with and therefore they are finding solutions that get to the heart of the problem and/or successfully engaging community members in effective ways.
Appendix 1: Implementing the fund
Background: Why SCVO?
SCVO works in partnership with the third sector in Scotland to advance shared values and interests. We have over 1500 members who range from individuals and grassroots groups, to Scotland-wide organisations and intermediary bodies. We are the only inclusive representative umbrella organisation for the sector with organisational members of all shapes and sizes.
SCVO based the design of the Fund on learnings from its research into ‘Third sector and welfare on the frontline’ in 2014. Qualitative interviews during the research provided insight into the challenges frontline organisations were facing. These insights were used to construct materials and support packages that we believed would better assist both applicants and successful project outcomes of the grant recipients.
Welfare reform research and engagement activities previously carried out by SCVO led to constructive relationships with both frontline organisations and local networks of affected by the benefit changes and social inequality. This provided a pool of organisations to whom SCVO could survey for feedback on accessibility and practicality of guidance, application and support models. Further, SCVO used these networks and relationships to effectively promote the fund within communities across Scotland.
SCVO’s engagement officer offered additional welfare reform guidance, funding information and network opportunities to unsuccessful applicants. In addition, we were able to draw on expert knowledge provided by SCVO’s information service to assist potential applicants with enquiries on constitutions, a pre-requisite for application.
Funding was targeted to community based organisations with a 2014/15 financial year income of £200,000 or less. Organisations needed to be regulated by a recognised authority or have a constitution and the sponsorship of a regulated organisation.
Projects had to be new initiatives taking place during the 2015/16 financial year within Scotland. The fund did not cover core costs.
Applicants’ projects had to meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Expand/develop the organisation’s capacity in order to meet demand relating to welfare reform
- Develop a pilot project which focuses on tackling the impact of welfare reform and inequality
- Help bring organisations together in partnership to support people
- Develop people’s ability to prevent themselves from reaching crisis point
The fund received over 145 enquiries and/or applications which resulted in 131 qualifying applications.
Those applications which did not qualify for the fund were due to:
- the inability to provide financial information for the 2014/15 financial year
- the lack of a constitution
- having an income exceeding £200,000
- being affiliated to another organisation (most frequently a church) whose income was greater than £200,000
The initial assessment of applications and shortlisting was undertaken by SCVO before consideration by the decision making panel. All communications with applicants, record keeping and progress reporting was delivered by SCVO.
Of the 131 applications, we shortlisted 59 to go to the decision making panel to assess. The panel consisted of Jane Bruce – Clore Social Leadership Fellow, John Downie – SCVO, Iain Gordon – Bethany Christian Trust and Martin Johnstone – Church of Scotland.
Thirty-five organisations were chosen to receive grants ranging from £1,000 to £5,000. However, Whitburn And District Community Development Trust had to withdraw shortly after grant notification due to lack of resource to manage their intended project. Therefore, 34 organisations together received funding of £141,622.
To support the evaluation process, SCVO organised a meeting with Evaluation Support Scotland for all grant recipients to enable them to feed into the creation of an evaluation process for their funded projects as well as network and share experiences, concerns and ideas with each other. The meeting in July 2015 was attended by 22 grant recipients.
Projects had to run within a six month period: 1 August 2015 to 31 January 2016. Grant recipients had to submit an interim report on 13 November 2015 (see Appendix 2, 3, and 4 for results, questions and key dates, respectively). A final project report is due in February from which we will collate a final report.
Some grant recipients have already supplied testimonials about the impact of the grant on their work and the people they support (see Appendix 5). The testimonials reveal that organisations appreciated the evaluation meeting organised by SCVO with Evaluation Support Scotland. Feedback suggests the meeting allowed them the space to step back and provided support to plan out their projects. The meeting also offered opportunities to network and share ideas with fellow fund recipients, and in some cases, to develop partnerships.
Final evaluation of the fund will be supported by Evaluation Support Scotland.
SCVO used its knowledge of the third sector and experience from undertaking research into ‘Third sector and welfare on the frontline’ to shape the initial setup and support activities for the fund.
As well as creation of the application form, guidance notes and information webpages SCVO designed a rigorous system for logging and evaluation.
The fund was promoted through SCVO e-bulletins and networks, on the SCVO main website and Funding Scotland website, through wider third sector and faith based networks, third sector interfaces and through social media. Individual contacts who participated in the research into ‘Third sector and welfare on the frontline’ were notified and agreed to promote the fund through their own networks where possible.
SCVO supported organisations to apply, some of whom had never made a funding application previously. This was done via email and phone delivering advice, explanations, formatting help and coaching to structure project ideas and to outline outcomes.
Testimonials submitted by fund recipients reveal this level of support was appreciated (see Appendix 5), with applicants specifically mentioning the simple and accessible application form that SCVO devised as it focused on the needs of the community and used simple language with clear questions.
In addition, organisations appreciated the level of support offered by the SCVO grant fund engagement officer, mentioning the approachability, accessibility and speed of the support offered.
Interim reports were requested from all grant funded organisations on the progress of their projects/use of the fund in November 2015. The following questions were used:
- Explain how you are on the way to achieving your aims as set out in your application.
- Are you reaching the people you want to and how do you know this?
- What partnerships have you made so far, if any? Would the partnership(s) have been possible without the fund?
- What lessons have you learned so far? (For example, what is working/what isn’t)
- Is there anything else you would like to include – stories, case studies, quotes, videos or photos – that could demonstrate your work/success?
|20 May 2015||Pilot funding scheme launch|
|29 May 2015||Application deadline|
|3 July 2015||Assessment results announced|
|17 July 2015||Grant acceptance form deadline and funds transferred|
|13 November 2015||Organisations submit short progress report|
|15 February 2016||Organisations submit final report|
|30 April 2016||Evaluation and report of project submitted to Scottish Government|
Appendix 2: Testimonials from grant recipient organisations
Forres Area Credit Union
We applied to the fund to offer a service to families generally about financial awareness and also to prepare them financially for the advent of Universal Credit. I appreciated the evaluation process training session at the beginning of the grant period organised by SCVO – it gave me the space and support to focus and prepare the beginnings of my approach to the pilot scheme. The application form is very easy to fill in, the turnaround time was good for knowing whether we were successful or not. Zoe is very helpful and approachable for any further clarity or information.
The fund gives organisations a chance to try out any good ideas, to see if they really are! It gives a good platform to grow an organisation within a safe amount of human and financial resources, to see if a service that serves their client group really does meet their needs, and also fits into the service delivery potential. It can be a short term commitment to complement existing service.
Let’s Get Sporty
We applied to the Capacity & Resilience Fund to provide our organisation with the capacity to establish effective partnerships with local housing associations, ensuring we were supporting young people most affected by welfare reform. The fund is good because it provides a quick decision, has a simple process, and helps create a network with other organisations.
The Community Capacity & Resilience Fund allowed us to pilot an idea that we wanted to try out and the timing was perfect. There was a short turn around, easy application and an approachable fund manager!
We applied for funding from the Community Capacity Resilience Fund to help vulnerable people, particularly BMEs, support them and train them with skills that will enable them to get into volunteering, work and education which will help them escape the suffering as a result of the welfare reforms.
The application form was very easy to complete with very easy and straight forward questions. The application process was also very clearly outlined with deadline indicated and the date when we would expect feedback on the funding. The submission process was also very easy as we had to just email the form and the communication was timely. The grant also offered a networking meeting of the people who had received funding enabling easy sharing and learning from each other. The monitoring and evaluation process was also clearly communicated hence enabling the grant holders to work towards the outcomes in a more structured way. The grant was paid into our account in a very timely and secure manner making it easier to start the project on time.
This is a more accessible fund as it is only one process application where the turnaround of feedback was very quick. There was quick feedback from the grants officer responding to questions and also arranging a networking meeting on a date that was more suitable to all the grant holders. The grant was also paid in our account promptly therefore no delays hence making it easy to start on the project in time. The questions in the application were very clear, straightforward and an easier language to understand. The outcomes set out by grant were SMART and easy to deliver.
As an organisation that applied to the same fund we can testify that with the grant from CCR Izzy’s Promise has managed to set up a project, recruited a sessional worker and the worker has brought in 5 volunteers who were never employed in their lives. 2 of the volunteers have now managed to secure paid jobs through the SCVO Community Job Scotland (CJS), 1 volunteer has enrolled in college and 2 other volunteers are planned to apply to college next year.
The Libertie Project
The CCR fund was an opportunity for us to try out a pilot idea in an area that we feel passionate about, namely poverty. It gave us the scope to try a new idea, targeted at the specific needs of the disadvantaged groups we work with in our specific geographical location.
The best factor in applying for the fund was the simplicity of the form and the way it facilitated a needs led application to develop an innovative idea. It gave us, as an organisation, the ability to respond to real needs specific to our area of expertise and existing resources to come up with a package of support that has made a genuine difference.
The nature of the fund focuses on preventing poverty and this allows organisations working at grassroots levels who have direct experience of supporting people to help them before hitting rock bottom or crisis. In our case, in the first 2 weeks we have helped 49 individuals from re-offending by providing bags of non-food essentials on liberation from prison that they would otherwise not be able to afford and would have more than likely shoplifted (re-offended) to secure. The fund has allowed us to work with existing suppliers of end of line goods to make up the bags at a cost of £2.50 with a social return on investment of £80,000 for each ex-offender who doesn’t re-offend. There is not another fund out there that we have been able to apply to that gives us the ability to respond to need in the same way.
The fund is an ideal opportunity to test out innovative projects on a small scale, responding to individual needs rather than a large fund that requires a “one size fits all” approach.
Our charity applied for funding to employ an Assistant to build relationships between volunteers, service users and professional agency staff during a pilot programme to extend our service to meet the challenges of the impact of universal Credit. The Assistant would also support me in the day to day running of our additional drop-in days. I was very impressed with the simplicity and ease of completing the application, not always the case with some funders, and the key feature for us – one of the only funding grants that would allow us to take on an additional member of staff.
Other groups should apply for this grant as Welfare Reform changes, especially Universal Credit, will have a negative impact on the most vulnerable members of our society, and we in the voluntary sector need to be better placed to deal with this to support our service users.
Appendix 3: Interim report case studies provided by grant recipients
Case Study: Izzy’s Promise
Liz (not her real name) African female aged 45 years first made contact with our service in August 2015 through one of our dedicated volunteer from the BME. Liz explained to us how she had been a victim of sexual exploitation/trafficking and organised abuse at the age of 15 yrs. She had been trafficked from Africa then moved from town to town by abuse groups and subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation. The abuse resulted in mental health problems for Liz and rendered her unemployable. The economic cuts have worsened the situation for Liz as she has had her disability allowance reduced. She struggles to afford the daily necessities such as heating her house and feeding herself. She occasionally has to rely on food banks for top up on her food reserves.
Liz was passed on to one of our support worker with experience working with victims of organised abuse and sexual exploitation. She started accessing f2f support and she started talking about her past traumatic experiences. For the last 3 months Liz has remained in touch accessing support. She has also helped us in training our volunteer support workers by allowing them to listen to her story and helping them learn how to support a person with complex trauma to regain confidence to be able to volunteer and even go back to work or education. Liz has made progress as she is coming to our centre every week. She also helped and took part in the consultations we have administered. Liz has even indicated that once she gains confidence she would like to volunteer and help raise awareness on organised abuse/sexual exploitation and its impact on mental health. Liz has also helped us to make changes in the way we deliver our services. She has made recommendations and also made it clear the need for a confidential service for abuse survivors. We continue working with Liz helping her with her recovery and turning her life around…
Case Study: Libertie Project
Sally is 40 and has a problem with alcohol misuse; her life is often chaotic when she lapses which happens about once or twice a year. Following a second lapse in a year, Sally missed an appointment with the JobCentrePlus and was sanctioned for 12 weeks. When she came through the detoxification process in the community with support, she had to pick up the pieces and deal with the fact that she had been sanctioned.
Sally had a really good social network of friends and they helped her with food and transport but she was too embarrassed to ask for help with things like toiletries, laundry and cleaning products. She stopped going out because she had very low self esteem and felt that her appearance was unkempt.
Sally came along to the Libertie Project and opened up about what had been happening and she was given a Better Off Bag which included more expensive items such as feminine hygiene products, washing powder and toothpaste. Sally felt overwhelmed and explained that she was going to take out a payday loan but now she didn’t have to.
Case study: Speak Out Advocacy
Mr B is severely affected by autism, and has a reasonable level of functioning. As in the former case study, his benefit was also being migrated, this time though, from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independent Payments. He received the low rate mobility and middle rate care components. He also attended the medical/interview without support, and was unable to fully understand the questions, and also, unable to answer truthfully the questions that were being put to him.
Resultantly, he was told that he was ineligible to receive PIP at any rate. He was referred to advocacy for support to help him consider his options. His advocate explained that there was an appeal process, and asked Mr B if he wanted to consider this route. He decided that he should, and his advocate went through the fifteen different elements that he’d been scored on, and found that there was very few, if any, that Mr B could do without support and/or prompts. He also referred Mr B to the local money matters team for support. They didn’t know Mr B very well, didn’t spend sufficient time exploring his condition, and didn’t provide the relevant evidence that was necessary to meet the need for the mandatory consideration to be successful. Mr B then turned to Speak Out to support him through the appeal process. The Speak Out extra worker, asked for a stage 2 direct lodgement appeal. He then supported Mr B to obtain the services of an experienced welfare rights officer, who then led the appeal, and asked the Speak Out Extra worker to give evidence on Mr B’s behalf. The appeal was successful, and Mr B was awarded PIP at the enhanced level of both care and mobility.
Again, this outcome would not have been achieved without the input on the advocate, who spent time with Mr B, and understood the impact that his condition had upon his day to day life, and could speak to this at the tribunal hearing.
The Zone Youth Initiative: testimonials
“Thank you so much for your help; you are a lifeline to someone like me.”
“Thank you very much for the information don’t know what I would have done.”
“I would like to say that after speaking to the worker I felt much better. It was nice knowing someone cares.”
“Hope I don’t need your help again but you will be the first people that I call if am in a situation again.”
“I will sleep easier now thanks.”
“Thank you for taking the time helping my mum. She was in a terrible state over this.”
East Ayrshire Churches Homeless in action: testimonials
“The drop-in is a safe place to come. Everyone is approachable. You get access to services like opticians, housing, Citizens Advice, crafts. Always a good atmosphere. I always look forward to going and meeting new friends.”
“First time here. Staff very welcoming. There should be more places like this.”
“I enjoy coming and socialising. You also get fellowship and advice.”
“I have been evicted from my house, i.e. on the street, and am now in the hostel. I have no money. I come here to get food and some help.”
“I enjoyed playing snakes and ladders, brings back memories of happy family times.”
“You’re the only people who are kind to us.”
Volunteers cooking for service users at East Churches Homeless in action
Souper Saturday service users at the Big Issue portrait launch with Michael Allen of Edinburgh Rugby
Fund engagement officer
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations,
Mansfield Traquair Centre,
15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB
Tel: 0131 556 3882
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is the national body representing the third sector. There are over 45,000 voluntary organisations in Scotland involving around 138,000 paid staff and approximately 1.3 million volunteers. The sector manages an income of £4.9 billion.
SCVO works in partnership with the third sector in Scotland to advance our shared values and interests. We have over 1,600 members who range from individuals and grassroots groups, to Scotland-wide organisations and intermediary bodies.
As the only inclusive representative umbrella organisation for the sector SCVO:
- has the largest Scotland-wide membership from the sector – our 1,600 members include charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes
- our governance and membership structures are democratic and accountable – with an elected board and policy committee from the sector, we are managed by the sector, for the sector
- brings together organisations and networks connecting across the whole of Scotland
- SCVO works to support people to take voluntary action to help themselves and others, and to bring about social change.
Further details about SCVO can be found at www.scvo.org.uk.