Chance to apply for ‘social’ grants

APPLICATIONS for grants from West Sussex County Council’s Social Enterprise Fund have opened for this year.

People and organisations such as community or voluntary groups and social enterprises have been invited to bid for a share of more than £250,000 with ideas that benefit the county economy, community and environment.

These could include projects that meet health and wellbeing targets, or help local communities take a more active role in running services.

The deadline for the return of completed applications is midnight on July 30, with the winners announced in October.

The council says bids for more than £30,000 will be considered, but will be supported only in exceptional circumstances.

A social enterprise describes a business model where profit is reinvested mainly to fulfil social objectives or grow the business, rather than maximise profit for shareholders and owners.

Examples of social enterprises include some co-operatives and staff mutuals, social firms, community interest companies, some companies limited by guarantee or shares, and community enterprises.

One successful bid last year came from the YMCA, which was awarded £15,000 to expand its current Brighton-based painting and decorating social enterprise into Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex, providing support, employment and training for vulnerable and unemployed 14 to 25 year olds.

Another came from Chichester Mind, which received £15,000 for its South Downs Rural Outreach Project to help promote mental health and wellbeing in the area.

To help applicants, West Sussex County Council has arranged four free half-day morning workshops.

These will be held on May 22 at Crawley Library; May 25 at Field Place in Worthing; May 28 at Billingshurst Community and Conference Centre, and May 31 at the University of Chichester.

Two free full-day workshops to help people develop ideas, business plans and a budget will be held on June 26 and June 29 at a venue still to be confirmed. It is not compulsory to attend a workshop before applying.

Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources Michael Brown said: “The Social Enterprise Fund is an important part of our strategy to improve the economy, community and environment of West Sussex.

“We want to see a variety of entries, and would encourage anyone interested to attend the workshops to find out more.

“Experts from the West Sussex Social Enterprise Network and the local Council for Voluntary Service will be there to answer questions and provide guidance.”

People are being asked to email social.enterprise@westsussex.gov.uk with contact details, and indicating which workshop they wish to attend.