BCP Food and Energy Support Fund

DCF would like to thank the Department for Work and Pensions for the funding being provided and BCP Council in arranging this grant funding programme

BCP Food and Energy Support Fund

This programme will distribute part of the funds allocated by the UK government to BCP Council for Household Support Fund Round 4.

Round 1 has already distributed grants of up to £15,000 to groups able plan and deliver activities throughout the grant period, from 21st July to 31st March 2024.

Round 2 offers grants of up to £7500 to support additional winter activities such as Warm Welcome spaces and other food and energy initiatives from 1st Nov 2023 – 31st March 2024. Groups who did not apply in the first round will be a priority.


Organisations that can apply:

  • Registered Charities
  • Constituted Community and Voluntary Organisations
  • Community Interest Companies (must be limited by guarantee – please also check additional guidance for CICs in appendix 1 of our full grant-making policy here)
  • Social Enterprises (companies limited by guarantee that have a clear not-for-profit clause in their governing document and clear charitable or social objectives)

Groups must be local to Dorset – we do not fund national charities but can fund local branches if they are managed separately and financially independent

To be eligible the organisation must have:

  • At least 3 unrelated people responsible for running the organisation (for registered charities these are your Trustees, for CICs/Social Enterprises these are your Directors)
  • A written constitution or set of rules that sets out the purpose and management of the organisation
  • A bank account in the name of the organisation with at least two unrelated cheque signatories
  • An appropriate Safeguarding Policy


  • Schools are not eligible but we can fund PTA groups if they meet our eligibility guidelines
  • We cannot fund the promotion of religion or political causes – faith based organisations should advise whether their Food or Warm Welcome offer will include a mandatory introduction or discussion of faith
  • We cannot fund public bodies to carry out their statutory obligations
  • We cannot fund animal welfare organisations
  • We cannot offer retrospective funding for items already purchased or work completed
  • Organisations with more than 12 months’ unrestricted reserves are usually not funded

Priorities – Round 2

Grants will be awarded to applicants that are delivering community initiatives during this winter, that support BCP households impacted by the rising costs of living. Grants must be utilised from 1st Nov 23 – 31st March 24, to include pre allocated costs for activities to be delivered in the Easter holidays 2024.  The scheme is intended to cover a wide range of support for vulnerable and low income households in the most need of support, including families with children of all ages, pensioners, unpaid carers, care leavers and disabled people. Grant funded activities should meet immediate needs and help those who are struggling to afford energy and water bills, food, and other related essentials.

We encourage applications from groups and organisations that are helping to support residents with:

  • Access to food, including providing free or low cost food, community meals, food vouchers, cooking equipment or food skills initiatives (e.g. cooking on a budget)
  • Access to other household essentials relating to warmth, energy and water (e.g. hygiene products, warm clothing, blankets, energy efficiency measures such as curtains, draft excluders)
  • Warm welcome spaces enabling people to escape from the cold and connect with others – where groups are incurring additional costs in offering their space
  • Other community initiatives that relate to helping with the cost of living challenge

Groups applying for a Warm Welcome community space are encouraged to read this guide from Martin Lewis before applying – Setting up a Warm Space in your Community – there are a lot of helpful ideas to consider including a guide on how to estimate your increased utility bills.

All applicants should please note:

  • Grants for the provision of cash awards or white goods to households are not eligible
  • Food provision grants cannot be used to replicate or replace Free School Meals but families in receipt of Free School Meals are eligible as beneficiaries of funded services, where additional support is needed
  • There is no requirement for means testing to identify financial hardship but groups should describe their own approach to ensuring that beneficiaries are in need of support
  • Groups should describe how the service will compliment any existing services and demonstrate they are connected with other organisations serving the community, to ensure services are joined up
  • Warm Welcome community spaces should be free (including refreshments), open at least once a week, and welcoming; this might mean providing hot drinks, offering someone to chat to, encouraging people to talk to others, or enabling access to wider support services. All ideas are welcome.
  • Where possible, groups should make beneficiaries aware of support available from:
  1. Citizens Advice: Household grants to help with food and fuel bills for eligible households, funded through the Household Support Fund 4. Citizen’s Advice also offer advice and support on a range of issues, such as debt and benefits advice and support with applications & appeals. Household Support Fund – Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole (citizensadvicebcp.org.uk)
  2. Ridgewater Energy: energy efficiency improvements offered following home visits to provide free advice and installation of energy saving measures including cavity wall & loft insulations. Practitioner referral scheme for emergency boiler repairs or appliances available for eligible households. https://www.ridgewaterenergy.co.uk/projects-and-services/

What can I apply for

  • Grants of up to £7,500 are available in this second and final round.
  • The grant period will be from 1st Nov 23 to 31st March 2024 (groups can deliver funded services during the Easter school holiday period to 12th April 2024, as long as funds have been pre allocated by the end of March)

We can support any costs associated with providing the funded activities including perishable and non-perishable goods, capital costs and equipment (e.g. additional fridges or storage at your organisation), staff and volunteer costs, venue hire, transport (e.g. to community meals or other activities), administrative costs, reasonable contribution to organisation overheads/core costs, increased utility bills incurred as a result of opening for additional hours to offer a Warm Welcome space in the winter.

We welcome partnership bids from two or more groups co-delivering a project or to share a capital item.

Monitoring & reporting

  • All grants should be fully spent by 31st March 2024 (including pre allocated funds to be used during the Easter school holiday period to 12th April 2024)
  • Due to government reporting deadlines, you will be asked to submit an online End of Grant Report by 12th April 2024
  • Extensions cannot be offered and unspent funds must be returned to DCF

Pre-application support

Pre-application support is particularly encouraged for groups who have not applied to our grant programmes before but is available for anyone in need of advice about the application process, or if you are unsure whether your project/activity is suitable. Please email our Grants Manager to arrange a 20 minute phone call.

Please also contact us if you need the application form in an alternative format.

How to apply

The deadline to apply is midday on Friday 6th October 2023.

To apply please CLICK HERE.

You will need to attach the following supporting documents to your online application (or send them via email) UNLESS you have already sent these documents in the last 12 months

  • A copy of your governing document, if not registered at Companies House /Charity Commission
  • A copy of a recent bank statement no more than 3 months old
  • A copy of your latest annual accounts, or in the case of new groups, please send a financial forecast or budget for your first year if you have one
  • Your Safeguarding policy and Equality & Diversity policy *our guidance notes may be helpful

We encourage relevant groups to consider becoming members of the BCP Access to Food Partnership. The Access to Food Partnership works together across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to ensure that everyone can feed themselves and their family nutritious food all of the time. To learn more about the Access to Food Partnership go to www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/accesstofoodpartnership.


* For support with policy development or reviews we recommend you contact one of the local support agencies for voluntary sector groups – Community Action Network offers free support to groups across the county of Dorset, and low cost training & events. Dorset Community Action  provides support to groups in the Dorset Council area.

Safeguarding policy – there are helpful online resources such as the Charity Commission’s guidance on Safeguarding and the NSPCC website. New groups or those without any current policy may find it helpful to watch this short video ‘Safeguarding adults in the voluntary sector’  introducing what Safeguarding is and why it is relevant for all voluntary sector groups, no matter how small or who you are working with.

We also recommend groups consider adding their details to the helpandkindness website, which provides a map of services in Dorset to help people find local support when they need it.

Equality & Diversity policy – we recommend this should include as a minimum: reference to the Equality Act 2010 and explicitly covering all protected characteristics, equal access to services & employment and ways you achieve this, preventing harassment or discrimination and how complaints are dealt with fairly.

In order for us to follow our decision-making process, the information given in your application will be shared with our independent panel members and/or donors as appropriate. Panel members are subject to a confidentiality agreement. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information on data sharing and storage.

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