Council launches £800,000 annual fund for small community groups

Small Grants -2

People attending the small grants launch

Tower Hamlets Council has launched (on Monday 11 December) a new Mayor’s Small Grants Programme, to provide £800,000 a year in funding to support the work of small voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations. 

The new scheme was launched at a special meeting held at Whitechapel Town Hall featuring 170 people representing many of the borough’s community groups and organisations. Cllr Saied Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Cost of Living spoke to delegates about the council’s vision for working with the sector. There was also a welcome from the council’s chief executive, Steve Halsey. 

The meeting was an opportunity to network, to celebrate the achievements of the sector, to discuss current issues, and for information sharing. There were presentations from a number of organisations including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets, Youth Council, Ashaadibi Education and Cultural Centre, and Vallance Community Association. 

The Small Grants funding programme will run each year until March 2027 and ensure that a wide range of smaller local organisations and sections of the community are able to benefit. 

Lutfur Rahman, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:  

“We are truly fortunate to have such an active and hardworking voluntary sector that works so hard across our borough to support our communities and make life better for our residents.  

“This scheme builds on almost £12 million recently provided through the Community Grants Programme, with an extra £800,000 each year until March 2027 for the benefit of smaller organisations.” 

“The range of support that our VCS provides remains a crucial lifeline to many in our community, and I encourage local groups to take up the offer of support and make an application.” 

The scheme has been developed in partnership with residents and local community partners and consists of five key themes:  

  • Mayor’s & Young Mayors - Youth Empowerment Fund – to support young people to design, bid and deliver projects for their peers. 

  • Mayor’s Positive Activities for Young People – to support activities during school holidays. 

  • Community events – to support events that bring communities together, celebrate our diversity, including national and regional celebrations. 

  • Mayor’s Capacity Building Programme – to support organisational development which strengthens local organisations’ ability to deliver services. 

  • Community Chest – a number of small grants to support community events and activities. 

Cllr Saied Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Cost of Living, said:   

“We know that like our residents, our local VCS groups are tackling the ongoing impacts of the cost-of-living crisis and the council will continue to do all it can to support the vital work that our groups do. 

“This scheme has a broad approach which includes specific support for young people, that will also help to relieve the stresses and financial strains on their families. We’re also pleased to have funding for positive events and activities that celebrate our great sense of Tower Hamlets community spirit, alongside important support to help local organisations to maintain a long term and stable future.”  

The Small Grants scheme is designed to support local organisations with a maximum annual income of £150,000. The first round of £800,000 in funding officially opened for applications on Monday 11 December and will close on Friday 2 February 2024.  

A dedicated section of the council’s website has been created to include all the necessary information on the scheme.  

Applications for funding will be assessed during February 2024 and applicants will be notified of the outcome of their bids in mid-March 2024.  

The council is providing support for how to apply for the grants including online and in-person information events that groups can sign up to via the website.  

In addition to the information online, groups with questions about specific support can get in touch with the council’s voluntary and community sector grants team at  

The small grants webpages have been created to include all the necessary information about the scheme. The website includes information on eligibility, how much funding is available, what the funding can be used for, as well as the bidding and assessment processes.   

Tower Hamlets has around 1300 VCS organisations which are often the first place that people turn to for advice, services and support. They run thousands of regular positive events and activities that bring residents together. Local organisations also offered a vital community lifeline during the covid pandemic, and they continue to support many residents dealing with the cost-of-living crisis.  

Eighty-six voluntary and community sector organisations recently received a £11.96m council funding boost to deliver 110 new community projects up to March 2027, through the Mayor’s Community Grants Programme (MCGP). 

Posted on Wednesday 13th December 2023