THE most basic ways to address the needs of isolated older
people -visiting and befriending, or volunteering with a charity
such as Contact the Elderly - cost little in monetary terms. More
ambitious projects, though, may require funding.
The Revd Glyn Thomas, at Regenerate-RISE, suggests that the
first step for any church should always be to explain the vision to
the congregation, and invite them to support the project as part of
the church's mission.
The next step is to find out whether the borough/town/county
council offers any grants to support work among elderly people
Regenerate-RISE's work in London, for example, is primarily funded
by Wandsworth Council; and the Good Neighbour Project in Tunbridge
Wells gets much of its funding from Kent County Council.
Often, local forums, such as community councils, or even
residents' associations, have small pots of money to award to
projects that affect their immediate community.
Local CVS offices may be aware of possible sources of funding,
as will the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
The Church of England website lists a number of possible sources
of finance for Christian community action
(www.how2help.net/home/full-report/funding-sources). This includes
a number of charitable trusts that fund work among older or
isolated people. Websites such as www.grantnet.com and
www.trustfunding.org.uk may be useful, too.
The Church Urban Fund supports work that is focused on the
relief of poverty and deprivation, and can sometimes provide quite
large sums of money long-term.
For large projects, the Revd Maggie Durran, a Church
Times columnist, says: "You could use a website such as
Trustfunding to search for a trust that specialises in the elderly
and isolated. For a day-care centre, or something like that, it may
be possible to get help from the health authority, or social
services, who fund projects that work with the elderly."
The National Lottery is another potential source of substantial
sums long-term, although its criteria can be demanding, Mr Thomas
says. "If you apply, you will need to know your area well, and to
be able to make a good case that what you are proposing is needed
locally; that you can deliver it; and, perhaps, that you are
best-placed to do so.
"Also, bear in mind that for the Big Lottery Fund it is all
about impacts and outcomes - they will not want to know that you
are running a luncheon club, say, but that you are providing 60
people with nutritious meals. It's a different way of thinking.
They will hold you to any target you set, so consider carefully
what you are proposing, and, if your application is successful,
have someone who can hold your project accountable and report to
If seeking secular funding, make sure that you understand the
implications and accept them, or it can be a cause of division, he
says. "At our centre in Putney, we don't say grace before meals,
because our funding stipulates that we can't be seen to promote a
particular religion. If you see evangelism as an essential part of
your work, that may restrict funding applications, but it is always
best to be up front and open."
Applications must be well researched, Mr Thomas says.
"Grant-making bodies are heavily subscribed, and there is no point
applying if a project does not meet the criteria. Some will state
that they do not give money to religious organisations at all, but
others may consider funding, for example, a centre in which
religious activities take place, as long as the building is open to
people of all faiths and none."
It may be worth considering partnering with another, secular
organisation, to put in a bid together.
Some bodies give money only to registered charities, or will
have an upper or lower limit for turnover. Some will want to see a
budget or a business plan, or some form of constitution that states
a project's aims and objectives.
"Many will want an assurance that they would not be a sole
funder - if only because they want to be sure an organisation is
serious about raising the rest of the money."