Near Neighbours Small Grants


Seed funding for local groups and organisations who are working to bring together neighbours, developing relationships across diverse faiths and ethnicities to improve their local communities in specified areas of Birmingham, the Black Country, East London, East Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Luton, Nottingham, Peterborough, West London, and West Yorkshire.

Maximum value:  £3,000

Objectives of Fund

The Near Neighbours Fund aims to encourage stronger civil society in areas that are multi-religious and multi-ethnic by creating association, friendship and neighbourliness. It intends to bring together people of different faiths and of no faiths to transform local communities for the better.

The fund has two key objectives:

  • Social interaction – to develop positive relationships in multi-faith and multi-ethnic areas.
  • Social action – to encourage people of different faiths and of no faith and of different ethnicities to come together for initiatives that improve their local neighbourhood.

Projects should aim to build lasting relationships between people which will continue naturally after the initial period of funding.

Value Notes

The following grants are available in 2020:

  • Micro grants of between £250 and £1,000.
  • Small grants of between £1,000 and £3,00.

Match Funding Restrictions

Match funding is not required. However, preference is given to applicants that can show additional resources such as volunteer time or extra funding being drawn in.

Who Can Apply

The funding is for grassroots organisations, particularly emerging local groups as well as charities, religious organisations and other not-for-profit organisations whose focus is on local work. Small organisations with a low annual turnover will be viewed ‘especially favourably’.

Applications are welcome from faith groups, places of worship, partnerships of different faith groups, and informal local groups comprising people of different faith groups. Applications from secular organisations that are working with faith communities are also encouraged.

Applications will be considered from Community Interest Companies and other social enterprises if their membership is from the neighbourhood they are seeking funding for, and if the activity they seek to deliver has involvement from local people of more than one faith and ethnicity in planning and running it.

Funding may also be given to small groups without a constitution or bank account where there is a reputable local community or faith organisation willing to act as the accountable body for the funds.

Groups should check they are in an eligible area on the Near Neighbours Local Hubs page


Funding is not available for the following:

  • Any activities that are not currently allowed in England due to the current Government restrictions. (Groups should check the Government guidelines on how to meet safely)
  • Projects outside the eligible areas.
  • National organisations working locally.
  • Local authority initiatives.
  • School projects.
  • Repeated activities (such as an annual summer camp or regular training sessions that have happened previously).
  • Activities open only to one faith/ethnic group.
  • Activity promoting a specific faith.
  • Faith leaders’ salaries.
  • Individuals.
  • Organisations with a high annual turnover (more than £150,000), with significant free reserves, or with a weak financial position.
  • Existing salary costs, except where there is a significant increase in hours in order to begin new work or expand an existing project to new people.
  • Organisational costs not associated with the funded project.
  • Major capital costs (though small items of equipment will be considered, for example, the cost of a kettle but not the cost of a kitchen).
  • Unspecified or excessive volunteer expenses or high staff costs/expenses.
  • Retrospective costs. (Work that has already been completed or started. Applications will not be accepted for work that will begin within 14 calendar days of receiving the application.)
  • Deficits or loans.
  • Campaigning and fundraising activity.
  • Revenue and capital funding for national voluntary/community organisations and public and private sector organisations.
  • General repairs and refurbishment of buildings, or internal re-ordering of places of worship, maintenance or DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliance.
  • General appeals.

Applicants should check the guidelines for a full list of restrictions.

Eligible Expenditure

Projects must fall into at least one of the following three broad categories. The project need not fit itself to just one; it is recognised that activities may naturally cover two or all three of the following:

  • First Encounters that develop new relationships between people of different faith and ethnic communities and encourage the development of mutual understanding – initiatives which begin the process of developing friendship and neighbourliness.
  • Everyday Interactions that support regular interactions, repeatedly bringing people together and encouraging families and individuals to come together to share life – building flourishing and sustainable friendships and relationships.
  • Civil Engagement which brings together people from different faith or ethnic communities to work together to change their neighbourhoods for the better – enabling diverse communities to transform their neighbourhoods.

To be eligible, projects must:

  • Bring together peoples of two or more different faiths and/or ethnicities, to build friendships and develop relationships of trust.
  • Work locally to bring together people who are living very locally (ie, in the same street, estate or neighbourhood).
  • Work sustainably so that long-term and natural relationships grow, that will last beyond the period of funding.
  • Improve the community with people working to make their communities a better place to live.
  • Commit to diversity and involve a diverse group of people, from more than one faith group and/or ethnicity, in the planning and implementation of the project.

The funding has covered a broad range of work, environmental, social, cultural, artistic, and sporting, that furthers the programme’s aims of encouraging social interaction and social action.

The funding is for:

  • New or developed work (not repeat or ongoing activities).
  • Specific projects or activities.
  • Immediate activities. Grants should be claimed within three months, projects should last no longer than six months.
  • Small initiatives. The total cost of the project should be £15,000 or less.
  • Grassroots organisations with a low annual turnover.

Priority will be given to:

  • Projects and activities which bring together neighbours of different faiths and ethnicities to build trusting relationships.
  • Projects that help local people develop leadership and organising skills.
  • Projects that focus on improving community resilience and cohesion in helping solve divisions and tensions between ethnicities and communities: especially in areas where COVID-19 has increased these tensions.
  • Projects which combat loneliness and promote connectedness, for groups and individuals, especially those in need of support following lockdown and isolation.
  • Projects which support vulnerable women. Applications are welcome which support those who have suffered during lockdown, such as from domestic abuse and mental health issues.
  • Projects supporting vulnerable young people, especially those at risk of grooming into gangs, extremism or crime, and those who have been adversely affected in lockdown.
  • New and innovative projects with a high local impact at the neighbourhood level.
  • Projects that take place in neighbourhoods with deprivation or disadvantage.
  • Proposals from minority faith communities.
  • Proposals from small faith or community organisations or groups.
  • Where a project shows sustainability; with relationships, sustainable change and/or further work together likely to continue naturally beyond the period of funding.
  • Where it is clear what difference the activity will make to the local community.
  • Proposals that are run by volunteers or have a strong volunteer base.
  • Organisations which have not been given Near Neighbours funding before.
  • Projects that source goods and services from businesses in the local community or use ethically sourced goods and services, such as Fairtrade refreshments.
  • Proposals that pay staff the Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation.
  • Where a proposal shows value for money.

How To Apply

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline of Friday 11 December 2020. The aim is to make a decision on all grant applications within 14 days of receiving all the necessary information.

Applications may close earlier, however, should all the funds be dispersed before 11 December 2020.

Criteria/guidelines and an application form are available on the Near Neighbours website.

In the first instance applicants should speak with their local Near Neighbours Coordinator about their proposal.

For the 2020 round, there are two application forms:

  • A simpler form for ‘micro grants’ up to £1,000.
  • Another for projects between £1,000 and £3,000.

The completed application form should be submitted to the nearest local Near Neighbours Coordinator. Contact details are listed in the 2020 Criteria and Guidance document.

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