Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund

About the fund

The Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund has been established to provide grants to grassroots community groups and organisations across Scotland in response to the mental health need arising from the pandemic.  The intended outcome of The Fund is to develop a culture of mental wellbeing and prevention within local communities, tackling priority issues such as suicide prevention, social isolation, and loneliness, as well as improving awareness of how we can all stay well and help others. Over £570,000 will be distributed in Aberdeen City. Applications will be assessed by the ACVO team on a rolling basis to enable faster distribution of the funds.  

ACVO will be responsible for distributing £571,873.72 across Aberdeen City.

The Fund will be open for applications in two phases:

Phase 1 will open for applications on Thursday 25th November 2021 and close on Tuesday 21st December 2021.

Phase 2 will open for applications on Wednesday 5th January 2022 and close on Tuesday 15th March 2022 (or once all funds have been allocated, whichever is sooner).

Information workshops and sessions

To help with the application process, we are hosting a series of online workshops.

Follow the links below to find out more and book your place

Guidance notes for applicants

Click on the sections below for more information or download the guidance as a PDF

Introduction

In February 2021, an additional £120 million was announced by the Scottish Government for a Recovery and Renewal Fund for delivery of the commitments set out in the Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan. This funding comes in response to the mental health need arising from the pandemic.  

As part of the Recovery and Renewal Fund Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, announced on the 15th October 2021 a new Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for adults (The Fund) with £15 million being made available in 2021/22. This is the first year of a two-year fund to support mental health and well-being in communities across Scotland. The Fund will be distributed by Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) to community groups and organisations. The Fund reflects the importance placed on community support and will provide significant investment.  

 ACVO will be responsible for distributing £571,873.72 across Aberdeen City. The Fund will be open for applications in two phases: 

Phase 1 will open for applications on Thursday 25th November 2021 and close on Tuesday 21st December 2021. 

Phase 2 will open for applications on Wednesday 5th January 2022 and close on Tuesday 15th March 2022 (or once all funds have been allocated, whichever is sooner). 

How much organisations can apply for

To enable groups and organisations to manage any grant that they secure, and to facilitate access to smaller grants for small groups and organisations, the following levels are being applied to The Fund: 

Funding Level 

Funds Available 

Maximum Income of the Group/Organisation 

1 (inc. unconstituted groups) 

£0 to £2000 

Up to £250,000 in the most recent financial year 

2 (constituted groups only) 

£2001 to £10,000 

Up to £500,000 in the most recent financial year 

3 (constituted groups only) 

£10,001 to £50,000 

Up to £1 million in the most recent financial year 

Due to the ambition of The Fund being to support local community activity, it is anticipated that the majority of applications will be considered under funding levels 1 and 2. However, we understand that organisations and partnerships of similarly minded organisations may wish to apply for grants, so we do expect a smaller proportion of bids up to the maximum value of £50,000. 

Fund outcomes, aims and priorities

The intended outcome of the Fund is to develop an infrastructure of good mental wellbeing and prevention of poor mental health within local communities and across Scotland, with improved awareness of how we can all stay well, whilst helping ourselves and others. 

The Fund seeks to contribute to the four key areas of focus from the Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan:   

  • Promoting and supporting the conditions for good mental health and wellbeing at population level. 
  • Providing accessible signposting to help, advice and support. 
  • Providing a rapid and easily accessible response to those in distress. 
  • Ensuring safe, effective treatment and care of people living with mental illness. 

The Fund also seeks to contribute to the following national outcomes from the National Performance Framework:  

  • We are healthy and active. 
  • We will live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe. 
  • We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth, and power more equally.

In line with the Scottish Government’s long-term outcomes for mental health in communities, The Fund intends to provide investment for: 

  • Fostering a strategic and preventative approach to improving community mental health. 
  • Supporting the resilience of communities and investing in their capacity to develop their own solutions, including through strong local partnerships. 
  • Tackling the social determinants of mental health by targeting resources and collaborating with other initiatives to tackle poverty and inequality.

The overarching aim of The Fund is to support community-based initiatives that promote and develop good mental health and wellbeing, and/or mitigate and protect against the impact of distress and mental ill health within the adult population, with a particular focus in 2021/22 on:  

  1. Tackling priority issues within the Transition and Recovery Plan such as suicide prevention, social isolation and loneliness, prevention, and early intervention. 
  2. Addressing the mental health inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and the needs of a range of ‘at risk’ groups locally. 
  3. Supporting small ‘grass roots’ community groups and organisations to deliver such activities. 
  4. Providing opportunities for people to connect with each other, build trusted relationships and revitalise communities. 
  5. Supporting recovery and creativity locally by building on what is already there, what has been achieved through the pandemic, and by investing in creative solutions. 
Fund criteria

The ambition of The Fund is to support initiatives which promote mental health and wellbeing at a small scale, grass roots, community level. It will be accessible to all groups, no matter how small or inexperienced they are (including unconstituted groups). It can support both new and existing groups or projects. It is ACVO’s intention that new and unconstituted groups will be supported with the governance, funding and volunteering advice that facilitates them to build internal capacity. These do not have to have mental health and wellbeing as their primary focus, but their application does have to clearly benefit the mental health and wellbeing of people in the community that they serve.   

Applications can be made from a range of community and voluntary ‘not for profit’ organisations, associations, and groups who have a strong community focus for their activities.  Partnership applications are welcomed and encouraged, providing all the groups associated with the project fall into the below criteria.  The range of organisations that can apply are: 

  • Unincorporated Associations
  • Companies Limited by Guarantee 
  • Trusts 
  • Not-for-profit company or asset locked company or Community Interest Companies (CIC) 
  • Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies 
  • Community Councils

Unconstituted groups will have the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £2,000, and where a group does not have access to a bank account for their organisation, then alternative constituted groups or organisations would be allowed to hold a grant for them (a letter of agreement will need to be provided with the application). This is to enable smaller, ‘heart of the community’ type groups to benefit from The Fund and deliver their services/projects within their neighbourhoods. 

The focus of The Fund is on the adult population and on projects which help whole communities and/or community groups to make a difference to the lives of individuals. For the purposes of The Fund, the adult population is people aged 16 years and over. We recognise that this will present some overlap with Children and Young People Community Support Funding – although that funding is focused on targeted Children & Young People projects.  

Through the assessment process, ACVO and the external assessors will ensure that funding is allocated to initiatives which have a focus on delivering against the aims and principles of The Fund as described previously. 

The Fund will support applications for the expansion of existing activities, but emphasis will be placed on applications that provide additionality and not on providing replacement funding. 

Organisations can only submit one application per project, however multiple applications from the same organisation to support different projects that meet the eligibility criteria (up to the value of £50,000 in total across all applications) is acceptable.   

Identified ‘at risk’ populations

The Scottish Government has identified that evidence shows the pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health inequalities and has had a disproportionate impact on the mental wellbeing of a range of groups in society. Applications are strongly encouraged from groups and organisations that are delivering projects which are inclusive of, (but not necessarily exclusive to), the following priority ‘at risk’ groups: 

  • Women (particularly young women, and women affected by male sexual violence). 
  • People with a long-term health condition or disability. 
  • People who are or have been on the highest risk (previously shielding) list. 
  • People from a Minority Ethnic background. 
  • Refugees and those with no recourse to public funds. 
  • People facing socio-economic disadvantage. 
  • People experiencing severe and multiple disadvantages. 
  • People with diagnosed mental illness. 
  • People affected by psychological trauma (including adverse childhood experiences). 
  • People who have experienced bereavement or loss. 
  • People disadvantaged by geographical location (particularly remote and rural areas). 
  • Older people. 
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender + communities. 

Where possible, applicants should outline how they will address intersectionality (i.e. multiple marginalisation, such as those experiencing both poverty and disability) and how their project specifically benefits any given community in an intersectional way. We will also consider applications from groups to support advocacy for people at a local level to access care and help with signposting of the community supports being funded. 

Examples of what can and cannot be funded

ACVO understands that much of the work carried out by groups within the community, voluntary and third sectors contributes in some way to supporting people in their communities, with outcomes that can relate to promoting better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people. The Scottish Government do not intend this fund to support delivery of specific clinical treatment services such as counselling or other therapy-based interventions. The following list outlines what can and cannot be supported by this fund. It is not an exhaustive list, and we encourage groups to contact ACVO to seek further guidance if applications don’t easily fit into one of the categories that we can fund. 

We Can Fund 

We Cannot Fund 
Equipment  Contingency costs, loans, endowments, or interest 
One-off events  Electricity generation and feed-in tariff payment 
Hall hire for community spaces  Political or religious campaigning  
Training costs  Profit-making/fundraising activities 
Transport  VAT you can reclaim 
Utilities/running costs  Statutory activities 
Volunteer expenses  Overseas travel 
Small capital spend of up to £10,000 (i.e. land or building projects*)   Alcohol 
Staff costs (noting this is a 2-year fund therefore one off or fixed term)   Clinical Treatment Services such as counselling or therapy-based interventions. 
Helping people to stay safe (PPE for small gatherings/group activity)  Initiatives whose primary beneficiaries are under 16 years old. 

*Evidence must be provided that the applicant will have unhindered access to the land or building for five years after the funded project has ended. Also, where it is likely to be required, that planning permission has already been granted. 

The application process

The ACVO website provides the following for applicants: 

The application form – 

Three application forms have been developed.  Please ensure you select the right application form which is dependent on the size of grant you are applying for: 

Level 1 – Up to £2000 

Level 2 – £2001-£10,000 

Level 3- £10,001-£50,000 

Wherever possible, we would prefer to receive applications via our online process; however an application form can be emailed to you if you would prefer to complete it offline.  There is a facility to save the application form and come back to it later, enabling you to complete it when it is convenient.  Once you have submitted your application form, you will receive an automated email confirmation, which will include a copy of your application form.

Once an application has been received, we will check to ensure that all key pieces of information are complete, the required attachments have been sent and can be opened. We will endeavour to contact groups and organisations as soon as possible if there is a need for clarification or additional information, however this may result in a delay to the assessment process. 

The assessment process

The assessment team will aim to assess Level 1 and Level 2 applications within five working days. However, this will be dependent on the number of applications received in any given week. ACVO will also not be assessing applications between 21st Tuesday December 2021 and Sunday 9th January 2022. All assessors will be required to complete a Declaration of Interest form prior to joining the assessment team. If an application is received from any group or organisation that is named on anyone’s declaration of interests’ form, that person will not be able to assess the application and will be substituted for the purpose of that individual application. 

As a minimum the Assessment Panels will be made up of the following- 

Level 1 applications  

  • The Chief Executive Officer or the Partnership Officer who will act as Chair of the Panel. 
  • One panel member from the ACVO team who has received a full briefing on The Fund and the assessment criteria.

Level 2 applications  

  • The Chief Executive Officer or the Partnership Officer who will act as Chair of the Panel. 
  • One Development Officer from the ACVO team who has received a full briefing on The Fund and the assessment criteria. 

 Level 3 applications  

  • The Chief Executive Officer or the Partnership Officer who will act as Chair of the Panel. 
  • One Development Officer from the ACVO team who has received a full briefing on The Fund and the assessment criteria. 
  • One External assessor from a partnership organisation. 

Please note that ACVO’s Funding Officer and Development Officer for Governance will both be excluded from the assessment process, enabling them to support groups throughout the applications process. 

Once an assessment has been completed, applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application. This will normally be one of the following: 

  • Your application has been approved and a grant offer letter will be emailed to you for you to sign and return to ACVO before we can make a payment to you? 
  • Your application is on hold because we need more information from you. We will ask for any specific information that we need. Your application will be considered again when the Assessment Panel next meets, providing we have received everything we have asked for. 
  • Your application has not been approved, and we are not able to offer you a grant from this fund. If this is the case, we will provide some brief feedback on why we feel this is the case and our Funding Officer will offer support to identify other potential funding opportunities. 

The assessment team will aim to assess Level 1 and Level 2 applications within five working days. However, this will be dependent on the number of applications received in any given week. Level 3 applications will be assessed by the internal panel and then will require external verification. These applications will therefore take longer to assess and approve; however we aim to get back to you with a decision as soon as possible. 

Please note that ACVO will also not be assessing applications between 21st Tuesday December 2021 and Sunday 9th January 2022.  

All assessors will be required to complete a Declaration of Interest form prior to joining the assessment team. If an application is received from any group or organisation that is named on anyone’s declaration of interests’ form, that person will not be able to assess the application and will be substituted for the purpose of that individual application.  

The payment process

ACVO is aiming to make payments for Level 1 and Level 2 approved grants into organisations bank accounts on a weekly basis. If your application has been approved, and we have received your signed grant acceptance letter, then we aim to have the payment to your organisation within five working days.  For Level 3 payments (£10,000-£50,000), payments will be made in January and March.  Please note that no payments will occur between Tuesday 21st December 2021 and Friday 7th January 2022 as ACVO closes over the Christmas and New Year period. 

Project evaluations and reporting

All grants provided by The Fund will require an evaluation to be undertaken by the grant recipient.  The Scottish Government has advised that for Level 1 and Level 2 grants, the evaluation process will be ‘light-touch’ and flexible methods of evaluation, including video and case studies, we anticipate will be acceptable. The evaluation for Level 3 grants will require more in-depth reporting, however it is anticipated this will still be relatively ‘light-touch’.  ACVO will provide further information regarding monitoring and evaluation processes as soon as further guidance has been provided by The Scottish Government. 

For all projects, the evaluation will be required to have been received by ACVO within 30 days of the end date of the project. This end date will be assumed to be the expected end date as provided in the application form unless the applicant has notified us otherwise.   

It is expected that the grant will be spent in 2022, unless exceptional circumstances out with the control of the organisation in receipt of the grant occur.  The organisation should contact ACVO if there is a project delay. 

Interim reports may be sought for any project lasting more than 6 months in duration, at the 6-month point. This will be assumed to be six months after the start date as provided in the application form unless the applicant has notified us otherwise. 

ACVO will be required to report on fund activities through two principal routes: 

  1. To the Scottish Government (The Funder). 
  2. To the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership

ACVO will provide further information relating to reporting as soon as this has been confirmed by The Scottish Government.  

Accessing support and further information

To access further advice or support relating to the Fund, the application process, or for any other reason, please email ACVO’s Funding Officer, Claire Shaw at claire.shaw@acvo.org.uk.  Claire will either contact you directly or forward your request onto the appropriate team member to help you with your enquiry. 

Scottish Government Project Examples

Below is a selection of examples provided by the Scottish Government which demonstrate the type of projects that could be funded through the Fund. This does not mean these particular groups will be funded, rather they are illustrative and are in no way exhaustive of the type of projects that could be funded.    

African Women’s Network

Chris’s House

Men Matter Scotland

Common Wheel

Plus Perth

Dundee Healthy Minds Network

FAQs

Please note this information will be regularly updated with new FAQ as and when ACVO receives them.  

Download FAQs as a PDF

Have a question? 

Will there be any continuation or recurring funding?

Yes, a second year of the Fund to TSIs has been planned, subject to approval of the Scottish budget.  If you have applied for the fund in year 1, you can also apply for funding in year 2 to support further new projects and initiatives. 

It should be noted that funding will be time limited and, therefore, applications to the fund should be sought for time limited projects and tests of change. Any funding towards core revenue costs will be short-term to support additional demands resulting from the COVID pandemic.  In relation to core revenue costs, your organisation will be asked to provide details of your exit strategy to ensure ongoing funding can be found from another source. 

What size of organisation can apply for the fund and what size of grant can awarded?

The Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund has been established to provide grants to small, grassroots community groups and organisations (i.e. voluntary or community organisations; registered charities; groups or clubs; not-for-profit companies or Community Interest Companies, and community councils).  

To enable groups and organisations to manage any grant that they secure, and to facilitate access to smaller grants for small groups and organisations, ACVO have applied the following levels: 

Funding Level 

Funds Available 

Maximum Income of the Group/Organisation 

1 (inc. unconstituted groups) 

£0 to £2000 

Up to £250,000 in the most recent financial year 

2 (constituted groups only) 

£2001 to £10,000 

Up to £500,000 in the most recent financial year 

3 (constituted groups only) 

£10,001 to £50,000 

Up to £1 million in the most recent financial year 

Due to the ambition of The Fund being to support local community activity, it is anticipated that the majority of applications will be considered under funding levels 1 and 2. However, we understand that organisations and partnerships of similarly minded organisations may wish to apply for grants, so we do expect a smaller proportion of bids up to the maximum value of £50,000. 

When will we receive the money?

ACVO is aiming to make payments for Level 1 and Level 2 approved grants into organisations bank accounts on a weekly basis. If your application has been approved, and we have received your signed grant acceptance letter, then we aim to have the payment to your organisation within five working days.  For Level 3 payments (£10,000-£50,000), payments will be made in January and March.  Please note that no payments will occur between Tuesday 21st December 2021 and Friday 7th January 2022 as ACVO closes over the Christmas and New Year period. 

When does the Fund have to be spent by?

ACVO must have dispersed the funding to agreed projects by 31 March 2022 at the latest and be able to provide evidence of this through the agreed monitoring process.  

It is expected that organisations would have spent the grant by the date specified on the application form or within 12 months of being in receipt of the payment. The Scottish Government want the grant to be making an impact in communities as soon as possible. 

 

Does the fund have to be used for new projects, or can it be used for expanding projects or continuing existing projects?

Whilst the Fund can support the expansion of existing activities, it’s primary intention is to provide additionality, not replacement funding. 

 

What can the Fund be used for - i.e. rent, equipment, staff costs, materials, etc.?

The Fund is primarily focused on supporting operational and revenue costs – e.g. volunteer and one-off fixed term staff costs, expenses, equipment, etc – to fulfil the activity.    For this year of funding, small capital spends of up to £10,000 are eligible.  

 

Can grants be used as a part of a match funding process?

Yes, the fund can be used as part of a match funding process.  Please contact ACVO’s Funding Officer, claire.shaw@acvo.org.uk, for guidance if you are considering matched funding. 

 

Do I have to complete the application form online?

ACVO would actively encourage organisations to complete the online application process if you are able too.  However if you would prefer to complete the form offline, please contact ACVO’s Funding Officer, claire.shaw@acvo.org.uk, and request either a PDF version is emailed to you or a printed paper version is sent in the post to you – remember to give your full postal address.  

 

How will the Fund be monitored?

All grants provided by The Fund will require an evaluation to be undertaken by the grant recipient.  The Scottish Government has advised that for Level 1 and Level 2 grants, the evaluation process will be ‘light-touch’ . We anticipate flexible methods of evaluation, including video and case studies, will be acceptable. The evaluation for Level 3 grants will require more in-depth reporting, however it is also anticipated this will still be relatively ‘light-touch’.  ACVO will provide further information regarding monitoring and evaluation processes as soon as further guidance has been provided by The Scottish Government. 

For all projects, the evaluation will be required to have been received by ACVO within 30 days of the end date of the project. This end date will be assumed to be the expected end date as provided in the application form,  unless the applicant has notified us otherwise.   

It is expected that the grant will be spent in 2022, unless exceptional circumstances out with the control of the organisation in receipt of the grant occur.  The organisation should contact ACVO if there is a project delay. 

Interim reports may be sought for any project lasting more than 6 months in duration, at the 6-month point. This will be assumed to be six months after the start date as provided in the application form unless the applicant has notified us otherwise. 

 

Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund