Get support with funding applications for wellbeing and mental health projects

Published on 11 January, 2024

CAN are is working in partnership with DCF and NHS Dorset to deliver grants of up to £40,000 a year to grassroots charities and voluntary groups helping to support wellbeing and mental health.

The Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund, which is open for applications until March 1, will offer grants of up to £80,000 over two years or £10,000 over one year for groups running community-based, non-clinical services and activities to adults (age 18+) and over that focus on wellbeing and mental health. There will be a second application round in the summer for grants up to £10,000.

The fund complements the Access Wellbeing programme, a new way of delivering mental health and wellbeing services in Dorset, in partnership with the NHS, councils and the voluntary and community sector.

Dorset Community Foundation grants manager Ellie Maguire said: “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.”

The fund will support early intervention services and activities that help people improve their wellbeing and mental health, projects that empower people to build resilience and help those living with mental health conditions to take part in activities that aid their recovery and wellbeing.

Priority will be given to projects in communities experiencing health inequalities, including people living in areas of high deprivation and those who are socially excluded and experience multiple risk factors for poor health,” said Mrs Maguire.

Mark Smith, Principal Programme Lead for NHS Dorset’s Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism team, said: “We are really excited to be able to work with the voluntary sector and Dorset Community Foundation to distribute significant funds to smaller, local organisations who operate in the heart of their communities.

We know that lots of great work happens in local communities to support people’s mental health and wellbeing and that social inclusion and meaningful activity is so important in a person’s recovery from mental health challenges. This is a fantastic opportunity and we look forward to exciting projects and initiatives over the coming months.”

Groups applying for the one-year funding must spend it within six months to a year, beginning within two months of the award. The two-year grants will be paid in two instalments with the second instalment only to be paid pending receipt of a satisfactory report at the end of year one

Karen Loftus, Chief Executive at Community Action Network said “CAN has been working hard to bring more investment into Dorset’s amazing charities and community groups, as we know what important work they can do.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Dorset Community Foundation and NHS Dorset to make this reality. Our role will be to get alongside groups to ensure they are funding ready and have all the tools they need to effectively deliver the work and demonstrate the positive impact on the people they serve.”

CAN and the community foundation are holding a series of information events about the Access Wellbeing Programme and applying to the Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund.

Book your free space at one of the three information events:

The projects that this new fund will enable will help communities look after their most vulnerable people and in doing so, we hope they will be taking some of the pressure off our already stretched NHS services

Dorset Community Foundation chairman of trustees Tom Flood said: “I am delighted that the NHS has entrusted us with this fund and that it recognises our ability to not only design a funding programme that meets the funder’s goals but then deliver it efficiently and effectively.

“The projects that this new fund will enable will help communities look after their most vulnerable people and in doing so, we hope they will be taking some of the pressure off our already stretched NHS services.”

Get details about the information days, eligibility and how to apply for the grants. Anyone with queries can contact Mrs Maguire at or 07592 032 666.