Leeds groups are urged to apply for community grants

A grant scheme that aims to harness the power of communities is about to enter its second phase.

By Charlie Bullough
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 4:45 pm
The Harnessing Power of Communities small grants scheme has helped many groups across Leeds. It’s about to enter its second phase.
The Harnessing Power of Communities small grants scheme has helped many groups across Leeds. It’s about to enter its second phase.

The project plans to ensure community groups are better connected, influential and resourced. It also wants to help community organisations “play an active, integral part of local health and care systems transformation and systems-wide culture-shift”.

The Harnessing the Power of Communities (HPoC) small grants programme began in February 2020, just before coronavirus loomed into view in Britain. But next week will see part two of the scheme unfold at a time when many charities and community groups require a much needed boost after months of lockdown.

From March 4 groups will be able to make new bids to the HPoC, which is a joint partnership between Leeds Community Foundation and Forum Central. The two organisations are using funding from West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership and NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group to achieve their goals.

Kirkstall Valley Development Trust asked the community to nominate older people for an afternoon tea to tackle social isolation.

A funding update report last November showed that just under £150,000 had been invested into small, grassroots community organisations to deliver one to two-year projects. The focus is on schemes which could improve the health and wellbeing of people in communities identified as the most deprived in Leeds. They would also build on assets to address locally identified needs.

In the first wave of funding 31 applications were considered by a panel of experts who awarded £148,557 to a total of 17 community organisations across Leeds. The size of the grants ranged from £4,892 to £10,000.

But as lockdowns and the tier systems began to take effect, organisations had to change how they delivered their work.

Many turned to online, telephone, activity packs, smaller groups or one-to-one sessions as solutions.

The grants scheme has helped 17 groups across Leeds to the tune of nearly £150,000.

Among those to benefit from a HPoC grant is The Neighbourhood Project, which is running the South Leeds Digital Health Project. A spokesperson told the Funder Update Report: “It is clear the Zoom training and enabling people to join in online activities is providing a positive boost to our learners’ mental health with them saying they feel less lonely and isolated.

“However, a strong feedback theme is that the improvement is nothing like if they were able to meet others in a group and learn together.”

The Leeds Mindfulness Coop, which got a £10,000 grant, has also been improving digital access. Since July they have delivered taster sessions to visually impaired people through Feel Good Factor and a group based at Space 2.

The cooperative has adapted their eight-week mindfulness course to bring group members who hadn’t previously used Zoom up to speed.

The grants have helped a broad spectrum of people, from youths to the elderly.

Now, yet more groups are set to benefit from the second phase of HPoC, which begins a week on Thursday.

Katharine Greathead, head of impact at Leeds Community Foundation, said: “Our latest round of the Harnessing the Power of Communities small grants launches on March 4.

“If you are a community group or organisation that is passionate about working locally with people to help them improve their health and wellbeing and puts them at the heart of health and care solutions, please visit www.leedscf.org.uk/open-grants to find out more or to sign up to our briefing session on March 18.”


A women’s group and a development trust are just two of the 17 groups which have been helped by the grant scheme.

New Wortley Community Association (NWCA) got £4,892 from the Harnessing Power of Communities (HPoC) small grant scheme to help its Women’s Group, while Kirkstall Valley Development Trust received £8,000.

The ladies’ group began early last year following a women’s focus session led by Leeds Community Foundation. The women had previously been involved in NWCA’s Healthy Holidays programme and decided to continue to meet after the focus group, which was part of a Leeds City Council listening project.

The women’s group has been delivering a variety of projects to support mental health and wellbeing, community engagement and families. During the pandemic they also created ‘Make a Mask’ packs.

Meanwhile, Kirkstall Valley Development Trust (KVDT) has also been busy engaging with its community. It asked people to nominate older isolated family, friends and neighbours for an afternoon tea delivery. It has also benefited from Healthy Holidays funding. By November 500 people of all ages had benefitted from its activities.

A KVDT spokesperson told the HPoC Funder Update Report about a number of projects that it had run for the community, adding: “It has also had a positive impact on reducing social isolation.”