Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund

DCF would like to thank NHS Dorset for the funding being provided for this programme and Community Action Network (CAN) for working in partnership with us to support the programme.

Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund

This funding programme is for activities and services for adults only (age 18+)

The following grants are available:

  • One year grants of up to £10,000
  • Two year grants of up to £80,000 (groups must be established for a minimum of two years to apply)

Where possible, please apply for one of the above options, according to the size of your organisation and the cost of the activities you want to apply for.

However, groups can apply for both of the above, but cannot receive a grant under both options, your application for a two year grant will be considered first – if this is successful, we will not consider your application for a one year grant. (If your application for a two year grant is not successful, your application for a one year grant would then be considered.)


The Mental Health Integrated Community Care Project – NHS Dorset, through a co-produced process have designed a new way of delivering Mental Health and Wellbeing services. This will be achieved through the collaboration and integration of services across NHS, Voluntary, Community Sector (VCS) and Local Authority services, with a focus on early intervention and preventative support where a person is empowered to identify and work towards their own life goals in a supported self-management way. These plans compliment national plans laid out in NHS England » The community mental health framework for adults and older adults, which advocate the strengthening of relationships with local community groups, and the value of social prescribing.

Dorset Health Care, Community Action Network and NHS Dorset are working together with partners across the system to develop a universal community wellbeing offer across Dorset, including wellbeing hub development. This funding programme aims to compliment these plans, by supporting activities delivered by the local voluntary sector that provide other community based wellbeing services with an early intervention approach.

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 work in Dorset and priority will be given to those based in the area. 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 three 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 religious or political causes – faith based organisations should advise whether funded activities 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

Fund Priorities 

This funding programme will support community based *non-clinical services and activities to adults age 18+ focusing on wellbeing and mental health. Grants will be awarded to support:

  • Early intervention services and activities that support people in community based settings to improve their wellbeing and mental health, helping people live well for longer and thereby reducing the need for NHS appointments and clinical intervention.
  • Services and activities that empower people to build their resilience and ability to find their own solutions and support strategies, enabling them to lead independent and happy lives. This might include contributing to the communities that support them, taking an active role in supporting others where appropriate, building social networks.
  • Services and activities that enable people living with mental health conditions to participate in activities that support their recovery and wellbeing, help them to manage their condition, live well in their community, maintain appropriate self-care, and thereby reduce reliance on NHS services.

*Non-clinical activities are those which do not provide any type of medical diagnoses, testing or treatment such as those provide by NHS services, including psychiatry, prescribing medication, professional counselling/therapy. This fund is not designed to support clinical interventions for those with severe mental illness.

Priority will be given to services and activities that support communities experiencing health inequalities, including people living in areas of high deprivation and those from health inclusion groups. Health inclusion groups are people who are socially excluded and experience multiple risk factors for poor health. You can read more about health inequalities and health inclusion groups here: NHS England » What are healthcare inequalities?

Examples of activities include but are not restricted to: social/support groups for people experiencing isolation & loneliness, facilitated support groups for people with shared experiences that impact wellbeing, green social prescribing activities, dementia friendly activities, support groups for carers, supported music, crafting or sports activities focussing on wellbeing outcomes, support groups or services for parents experiencing challenging circumstances.

We welcome applications from groups that provide complimentary practical assistance for social issues that contribute to the wider determinants of health such as advice & support with benefits and debt issues, education/employment support, housing support, food or fuel poverty (not an exhaustive list). Or groups that work in partnership with others to provide this additional assistance. Please note: funded services should primarily be targeted at supporting people’s wellbeing and mental health support.

What can I apply for

Groups can apply for either:

One year grant of up to £10,000 – funded activities must start within two months of the award and groups have from six months to one year to spend the grant


Two year grant of up to £80,000 – funded activities must start within two months of the award and groups should deliver activities over two years.

  • Groups must be established for a minimum of two years to apply for a two year grant
  • Two year grants will be paid in two instalments and the second year instalment is not guaranteed; it can only be paid pending receipt of a satisfactory report at the end of year one

Applications do not need to be for new services. We can fund the continuation of existing services that are delivering evidenced outcomes, the expansion or adaption of these services in line with local needs or increased demand, piloting new ways of working or launch of new services.

We can support any costs that are directly needed for the delivery of funded activities including; perishable and non-perishable goods, capital costs and equipment, staff/volunteer costs including training & support, transport and venue hire, administrative costs, reasonable contribution to organisation overheads/core costs.

What I need to consider when applying

  • You need to tell us who your service/activity will support, what you will deliver, approximate beneficiary numbers and how you will reach out and identify those in most need of support (referral routes)
  • You need to tell us how the service/activity supports prevention and helps to relieve pressure or need for NHS interventions
  • You need to evidence that there is an appropriate level of expertise to deliver the described activities, depending on who they are aiming to support and what they are providing (this may be lived experience facilitators or professionally qualified practitioners as appropriate)
  • You need to tell us which positive wellbeing and mental health outcomes you are aiming to achieve (a list of suggestions will be provided) and describe how you will monitor these outcomes

Monitoring and reporting

Recipients of a two year grant are requested to complete an Interim Report shortly before the end of year 1 and this report must be assessed and approved before the year two payment can be made.

Completion of an online End of Grant report is a requirement of funding for all grant recipients. The report will ask for details on how funds were spent, the activities delivered, the number of participants and volunteers, the outcomes achieved (the difference made to the lives of participants, their communities, and volunteers) and individual case studies. We are also interested in any challenges or learning during the grant period and its impact on your organisation, and your plans for the continuation of activities.

You should have tools in place to measure and record the intended outcomes of the grant – the difference the activities have made to the lives of participants and volunteers. Methods for measuring outcomes should be appropriate for the size grant received and the activities you are undertaking, and do not need to be complex. Examples may include feedback forms/questionnaires, interviews or discussion groups, recording observations etc.

Following a successful application, Community Action Network (CAN) will share their expertise and experience to support grantees with their implementation plan and monitoring and reporting process. This will be achieved through training, toolkits, webinars and 1-2-1 support.

Pre-application support

CAN and DCF will hold a series of information events to provide an opportunity to learn more about the Mental Health Transformation Programme and advice for applying to the Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund for Adults.

  • Date 1 & venue
  • Date 2 & venue
  • Date 3 & venue

To check you are funding ready, it is highly recommended that you complete the online ‘funding ready’ check list.

Groups can access 1 to 1 support and guidance provided by CAN at any stage of the application process and this is particularly encouraged for groups who have not applied to DCF grant programmes before.

  • How to contact CAN 

If you are in need of advice about the application process such as accessing or completing the application form, or if you need the application form in an alternative format, please contact:

How to apply

  • The deadline to apply is 15th December 2023
  • We aim to distribute grants to successful applicants by the end of February 2024

To apply for a one year grant of up to £10,000 please CLICK HERE

To apply for a two year grant of up to £80,000 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 three 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 and Diversity policy *our guidance notes may be helpful


* 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 and 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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