This grant programme is currently closed. However, you can view previous grant guidelines below. Please note, these grant guidelines may change when/if the programme reopens to applications. Please make sure you read the new guidelines before you submit your grant application.
We expect this grant programme to re-open to application in October 2024.
This page contains all the information you need to apply to this fund. At the bottom of the page is a link to an application form. All the questions from the application form can also be downloaded as a word document here.
The Mendip Hills Fund was set up to conserve and enhance the environment, communities and economy of the Mendip Hills.
To see a map of the Mendip Hills National Character Area click here.
The Fund will support projects that benefit communities and the environment of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and the area defined by the Mendip Hills National Character Area (NCA 141). The Fund will also consider projects in adjacent areas where benefit to the Mendip Hills and its communities can be demonstrated.
How much money can I ask for?
You can ask for up to £2,000.
We have around £15,000 in total to give out this year.
When can I apply?
Apply by Thursday 30 November 2023 and we will let you know if we can help in mid-January 2024.
Who can apply for this money?
You can only apply if you work or volunteer for a group that:
- operates within the Mendip Hills AONB character area
- is run by a committee or board of at least 3 unrelated people
- has a governing document or set of rules
- has an appropriate level of free reserves. If this is more than 12 months running costs, then you should have a policy explaining why
- has a safeguarding policy that meets our expectations
- has a bank account in its name, which requires at least two unrelated signatories.
We welcome applications from groups that exist to support people in their local community. We can award money to groups that are not registered charities, but the purpose of the funding must be charitable. This means we can give a grant to:
- community groups
- registered charities
- community amateur sports clubs
- community interest companies (CIC) limited by guarantee that have a clear asset lock benefitting local communities
- companies limited by guarantee that are not-for-profit with all surpluses re-invested back into the organisation
- faith organisations, but not for the promotion of religion
- community benefit societies
- local statutory organisations, like parish councils or schools.
If you don’t have everything listed above, then Spark Somerset may be able to support you to put them in place. Or you could talk to another group, or your local parish or town council, who could manage a grant application for you.
What can I use this money for (fund criteria)?
Conservation and enhancement of the landscape
Activities could include landscape conservation grants to community groups and, in exceptional circumstances, landowners or land managers for:
- Conserving and enhancing the special qualities of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (as identified in the Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan) and the Mendip Hills NCA
- Maintenance and management of natural features including coppicing, tree and hedgerow planting, pond restoration, grassland and wetland management and heathland conservation
- Maintenance and management of historic features including viewpoints, former industrial sites, dry stone walls and historic settlements or buildings
- Equipment to undertake conservation activities
Promoting public understanding and enjoyment of the Mendip Hills
- Education visits and activities
- Information and interpretation projects, eg notice boards, walking leaflets, websites, public transport promotion etc
- Outreach projects, eg targeting disadvantaged groups
Supporting the social and economic wellbeing of the Mendip Hills
- Enhancing community facilities, eg village halls
- Start-up costs for new social enterprises, eg farm shops, local food initiatives
- Community enterprises, eg village shops, village play schemes
Applications for activities such as concerts, film nights and community gatherings will not be considered unless there is a heritage or environment context.
The Fund particularly welcomes applications that meet one or more of the above and:
- demonstrate innovation or best practice
- link community, economy, culture and environment
- develop skills and ‘capacity building’ in the community
- involve young people or older people
- combat social exclusion and promote diversity
- bring organisations and people together to cooperate in tackling problems or promoting new ideas
- encourage links between rural and urban groups
- lever in contributions from other sources
- have little access to alternative public funding
- add value or new dimensions to existing sustainability projects.
Previous grants awarded include:
- tools for scything in a wildlife area
- creating a forest school area for children to be able to learn new skills and develop a love of outdoor learning
- a projector and screen for an AV installation in a village hall
- woodland nature conservation with restoration supporting the mental health of adults through nature connection in a therapeutic woodland in the Mendip AONB
- development of a small permaculture market garden
- creation and delivery of an event to celebrate the Mendips through archive films and song
A full list of grants awarded can be found here.
Is there anything I can’t use this money for?
We can’t give money to:
- individuals, sole traders or companies limited by shares
- activities that have already taken place or purchases that you have already made
- groups that give money to another group, rather than spend it on their own activities
- the promotion of religion. But we will give money to faith organisations for projects that deliver wider community benefits
- activities that are about animal welfare
We can give money to these types of groups, but only in some cases:
- Social enterprises, like a Community Interest Company. Social enterprises must be limited by guarantee, and have objects and an asset lock that benefit Somerset communities.
- Statutory organisations, like a parish council or a school. Applications cannot be for statutory duties. We would prefer Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) to ask us for money, rather than schools.
Is it likely my group will get some money?
We can only give money to around 2 out of every 3 groups that apply.
Please note that if you have received money from us in the past and not reported back then we are very unlikely to give you another grant.
Do I have to write a report if you give me some money?
You need to spend your grant within 1 year and send us a short report. You need to complete the report online and it will look like the application form. We ask you to tell us how the money was spent, what difference it made, and if you had any problems. We also ask you to send us stories and photos if you can.
How do I apply?
This grant programme is currently closed. We expect this grant programme to re-open to application in October 2024.
You don’t have to complete the form in one go. Instead, you can complete some sections then click ‘save draft’ at the bottom of the page. Use the link in your email to return to the form at another time.
If you would like to see what you must do before you start filling in the online application form, then this word document includes all the questions.
You also need to attach the following documents alongside your application:
- your governing document or set of rules
- your most recent accounts
- the names and addresses of the people who run your group, if it is not registered with the Charity Commission or Companies House
- your safeguarding policy
- a bank statement from within the last three months. This can be a scanned paper statement, or a copy downloaded from an online account. We need to see the bank name, your group’s name, the address where statements go, the account number and the sort code. You may redact transactions if needed.
Finally, you must read the terms and conditions and click ‘submit’.
Please contact us if you can’t use the online form, or you are unable to attach any of the documents. We’ll support you to make your application in another way.
You are always welcome to call or email our Grants Team if you have a question, or if you are not sure if this is the right place to apply for money.
Call us on 01749 344949 and ask to speak to Kirsty or email the team at email@example.com