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Tower Hamlets Grants engagement

The council’s new Strategic Plan (2022-26) sets out priorities for the borough over the next four years. Supporting and working in partnership with the local voluntary and community sector is a key element of delivering the council’s Strategic Plan.

Our partnership VCS Strategy 2020-24 has a commitment for 'a more resilient and sustainable sector' and our new funding programme will contribute to this priority. 

We recognise the role voluntary and community sector organisations play in supporting residents with many vital services, including the pandemic response and subsequent recovery. Many VCS organisations are currently supporting residents through the cost of living crisis, with a range of services and act as a first call of support for our residents.

Tower Hamlets has approximately 1300 VCS organisations and the diversity of these organisations help develop the social fabric of our borough. It develops relationship between residents and organisations and provides opportunities for people to cultivate their imagination and interests, allowing them to flourish.

To this end our vision is to ‘support and invest in a thriving and diverse VCS to enable it to improve outcomes for Tower Hamlets residents’.

Mayor's Community Grant Programme

The proposed Mayor’s Community Grant Programme is providing funding to deliver services between October 2023 to March 2027 and will include the following five themes:

  • Tackle the Cost-of-living crisis
    Focusing on improving financial and economic wellbeing of residents

  • Accelerate education
    Focusing on improving educational attainment and development of children and young people

  • Culture, business, jobs, and skills
    Focusing on increasing employment and skills opportunities for socially excluded residents

  • Invest in public services
    Focusing on improving wellbeing of residents and reduce isolation and inactivity amongst older people

  • Empower communities and fight crime
    Focusing on addressing inequalities experienced by people reflecting different equality groups and address community safety issues impacting residents.

The Small Grants Programme

The Proposed Small Grants Programme will provide one-off funding for time limited projects with different rounds throughout the year, includes the following five themes:

  • Mayor’s Youth Empowerment Fund
    Supports young people to design, bid and deliver projects for their peers

  • Mayor’s positive activities for young people
    Support activities during school holidays

  • Community events
    Support events that brings communities together, celebrate our diversity, national and regional celebrations

  • Capacity building
    Support organisation development which strengthens local organisations ability to deliver services

  • Community chest
    Very small grants to support community events and activities

Engagement on the New Grants Programme for the Voluntary and Community Sector

We have delivered six workshops across the borough at different times of the day. Both face-to-face and virtual for voluntary and community sector organisations. 155 people have attended the sessions. Download the slides from the workshops.

We also held seven pop engagement events across the borough to hear residents' views alongside an online survey. The outcomes from these sessions are now being analysed and will be considered as part of the development of the programme.

What was the engagement about?

This engagement obtained the views of

  • residents
  • people working and living in Tower Hamlets
  • voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations
  • partners about the council’s priorities.

Check the questions from the engagement workshop sessions.

Why has the council created the Mayor’s Community Grant Programme?

The council is committed to being open and transparent with funding arrangements with the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations. We cover this in the VCS Strategy 2020-24.

The Mayor’s Community Grant Programme is in line with the council’s priorities as set out in the Strategic Plan (2022-26).

The Mayor’s Community Grant programme starts in October 2023 and ends in March 2027. It has been set up to support the delivery of VCS services to help.

Why are the “themes” different to the ones under the Local Community Fund?

The Local Community Fund programme (LCF) themes addressed the needs of the borough 2019 after consultating with internal and external stakeholders.

The Mayor’s Community Grant programme aims to address the current needs of the borough as set out in the council’s Strategic Plan 2022-2026.

The programme aims to respond to the needs of the borough in a more pro-active and targeted manner. It will focus on tackling inequalities. It will also address the range of challenges facing residents, including the cost of living crisis and health inequalities. The programme will help the council to support and empower a diverse range of local VCS organisations.

What is the budget?

The council intends to retain the current level of annual funding for the various grants programme. The council’s budget will be confirmed at Full Council in March 2023.

How long is the funding for?

The Mayor’s Community Grant programme funding is from October 2023 to March 2027. The Small Grants Programme will run from October 2023 to March 2027, with various rounds of grants throughout the year.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Mayor’s Community Grant Programme funding?

The Mayor’s Community Grant programme funding will be assessed against two areas. First area will be an organisational assessment which will include the following draft areas (subject to review):

  • Governance
  • Business planning
  • Quality assurance
  • Managing people
  • Managing money
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Safeguarding children and adults at risk of abuse
  • Insurance

The second area will focus on project assessment criteria. This will include following draft areas (please note these are subject to review):

  • effective delivery service plan
  • track record of successful service delivery
  • demonstrates local connections
  • provision for service co-design with borough residents
  • quality assurance standard framework or processes
  • equalities and diversity
  • promotes community cohesion and poverty reduction
  • offers good value for money
  • ability to demonstrate change using SMART outcomes and indicators

Key timelines for the new funding programmes

Dates for new funding programme

Mid-April 2023

Applications open for Mayor’s Community Grants (MCG)

End of May 2023

Applications close for MCG 

June-July 2023

Assessment of applications

August 2023

Cabinet approval of new programme

October 2023

New MCG-funded projects commence

October 2023

New Small Grants Programme launched


Where can we get support with developing our organisation for grants application?

Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Service will be providing support for VCS organisations applying for Programme funding. You can also contact the council on vcs@towerhamlets.gov.uk.