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Community engagement

Community engagement is where we foster positive relationships with diverse community groups, voluntary and third sector organisations.

We target groups and organisations that currently have no formal structure for engagement. These are mostly groups and organisations working with women, ethnic minority communities, LGBT communities and faith communities.

Grants and funding

If you are a local community or voluntary group, then you may request help from a small budget we hold. We can also offer advice about events, and help with photocopying, printing, poster or leaflet design.

Requests for money must meet one or more of these criteria:

  • encourages participation from underrepresented/hard to reach groups
  • educates
  • involves
  • promotes understanding
  • new/ emerging community
  • partnership working

Put the request in writing, explain the work of the group, what the funding will be used for and how it meets the above criteria.

Email jo.tester@bedford.gov.uk or post to: 

Community Engagement Team 
Room 317, 3rd Floor
Borough Hall
Cauldwell Street
Bedford MK42 9AP

Members' Ward Fund

AS a resident or community group, you can contact your local ward councillor either requesting a donation giving a brief outline of what they intend the money to be used for.

If the Councillor wishes to support the scheme, then they complete an online form and submit to Democratic and Member Services at Bedford Borough Council. They will apply to use their allocated fund for a project within their Ward.

When this application is received, and before accepting the application, the applicant/s will be contacted to verify the following details:

  • The applicant/s must have all relevant policies in place regarding the proposed activity or spend
  • Two quotes must be submitted for each item of intended purchase
  • The applicant/s must have a relevant bank account applicable to a group/organisation, this cannot have an individual persons name on the account.
  • The applicant/s cannot spend the money retrospectively

Download information about the guidelines and criteria for the Ward Members' Fund here.

Or contact the Manager for Democratic and Members on 01234 228819 or by email RighttoSpeak@bedford.gov.uk

Financial assistance

Community Chest Fund funding (up to £1,000) core or project funding for established voluntary, charitable organisations and community groups   

House of Industry for voluntary, community and charitable organisations which help to alleviate need, hardship or distress of residents of the Bedford Borough Council area. Grants will normally only be awarded for capital items or one-off emergency revenue funding.

Rural Grants Scheme invites applications for funding from rural organisations or rural Parish Councils and can be submitted at any time, although they are normally considered by the Rural Affairs Committee three times a year, in April, September and January, subject to funds being available. Applications must be submitted by the relevant Parish Council.  

Awards for All (England) a quick and simple way to get small National Lottery grants of between £300 and £10,000.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation is a grant maker supporting local community groups and charities. 

Reaching Communities flexible National Lottery funding over £10,000 for up to five years to organisations in England who want to take action on the issues that matter to people and communities.

Charity Bank can provide charity loan funding from £50,000 up to £1 million. They invest in organisations that have a social purpose including community groups, registered charities and social enterprises.       

CVS Funding Information CVS has a page dedicated to Funding Advice. The page features a number of useful workshops for those seeking funding, lists of local, regional and national funders and much more. 

Applications to the Co-op Community Fund are accepted from community, voluntary and self-help groups. Grants from £100 to £2,000 are available for anything from equipment to event costs. 

The Dulverton Trust is an independent grant-making charity and company limited by guarantee. The Trust currently supports a wide range of activities in the categories of Youth Opportunities; General Welfare; Conservation and Preservation.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation funds the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change. Grants are available towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. 

Foundation East provides loans of up to £50,000 to enterprises based in Eastern England, who have been unable to obtain funding from traditional sources. Foundation East is also a delivery partner for the 'Start Up Loans for Young People' initiative, offering young entrepreneurs a loan, together with free business mentoring.  

Funding Central is free website for charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises. The site provides access to thousands of funding opportunities and much more. 

Harpur Trust supports the community by giving grants to local projects in the Borough of Bedford. Visit the website to see if your project is within their area of benefit and apply for one of its grants.

The Flexible Support Grant fund awards funding to local 'partnerships' who are seeking grants to finance innovative projects that will help to get people back into work. 

Panacea Society provide grants for projects run by community groups based in, or working for, the benefit of people in the town of Bedford. 

Santander Foundation provides one-off grants to organisations with charitable status for their work in the UK. There are two grants programmes, both focus on benefiting disadvantaged people and have no deadlines.   

Team BEDS & LUTON is a County Sports Partnership (CSP) committed to working to increase participation in sport and physical activity across the sporting landscape. 

Sport England provides grant funding opportunities for sports clubs, voluntary/community groups, schools, colleges and others for projects that fall within one or more of their key strategic aims for development of their approved sports throughout England.  

Tudor Trust supports voluntary and community groups working in the UK. It helps smaller, community-led groups which support people who are at the margins of society. 

Wixamtree Trust makes grants to charitable bodies at the discretion of the Trustees. They focus most of their support on organisations based in Bedfordshire or projects that benefit the people of that county. A small number of national charities with a focus on family social welfare issues are also supported.

Help with your funding application

The Voluntary Works Consortium can provide advice and guidance on how to find funding opportunities for your group and offers support in developing the governance of your organisation, including governing documents, policies, HR issues etc. It can also help with linking potential volunteers with vacancies in your organisation. 

Contact:

Sports project funding advice

team BEDS&LUTON provides advice and guidance with funding applications that relate to the development of sport and physical activity across Bedfordshire and Luton. This work focuses on funding streams available through Sport England. Contact Graham Simpson on 01582 813760 or graham@teambedsandluton.co.uk

Environmental project funding advice

Groundwork Luton and Bedfordshire is an environmental charity that works alongside the community to transform places and lives. 

Its work is funded from a wide variety of sources and Groundwork works in partnership with local groups, organisations and schools to apply for grants and other funding in order to undertake joint projects. 

If Groundwork is involved in delivering a project there will be no charge to partner organisations for preparing funding applications. 

Contact Groundwork on 01582 720147 or email lutonandbedfordshire@groundwork.org.uk

Promoting your group

If you're thinking of holding an outside event like party in the park, a community picnic, make sure you read our planning an event advice.

If you are thinking of using one or more market stalls for a town centre promotion or event for your group or organisation, then contact the Markets Manager at markets@bedford.gov.uk

You might be thinking about arranging a pop-up shop event for your group. If so, take a look at the Empty Shops Information Pack, which you'll find really useful. The pack has been designed to give you a starting point for investigating the permanent or temporary uses of empty commercial spaces. It is for people who may have an idea for an empty shop but don’t know where to start and has lots of useful contacts at the back.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)

We are developing a database of LGBT groups. If you are a member of an LGBT group then we would like to get to know you.

If you are interested in LGBT issues and would like to get involved in advancing equality then please contact us at jo.tester@bedford.gov.uk.

The Beaumont Society helps and supports the transgender community.

Strategic Partners Board

The Bedford Borough Strategic Partners Board brings together representatives from the community, private, public and voluntary sectors to make Bedford Borough a better place to live, work, visit and play.

There may be a number of issues which may be of interest to you or your group and also has an A-Z of local groups on the Community, Voluntary and Faith groups page, the What's On page and a Community News and Information page.

If you have an event that you would like to promote on the site or something for the Community News page, please email the details to Jo Tester at jo.tester@bedford.gov.uk or enter them yourselves using the online forms.

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