Grants are available for small local grassroots organisations in England to provide emergency relief in their communities during the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis and also recover from the impact that the crisis has had on their services.

Funding body: Comic Relief
Maximum value: £ 4,000
Application deadline: None specified

The new Comic Relief COVID-19 Community Fund was launched by Groundwork in response to the impact COVID-19 has had on communities in England. The funding has been made available with funds raised by the British public through the Big Night In appeal, match funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).

Objectives of Fund
The funding is intended for local grassroots organisations in England to enable them to:

Respond to the needs of vulnerable individuals, families and communities during the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.
Recover from the impact that the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis has had on their services.

Value Notes
Approximately 150 grants will be awarded in total.

Grants of up to £4,000 are available.

The grants must be spent by the end of February 2021.

Separately, enhanced “capacity building” grants of up to £1,000 are available through the regular Comic Relief Community Fund – Capacity Building Grant (also administered by Groundwork) to help support organisations become more robust and better able to deliver projects and bring about lasting change.

Match Funding Restrictions
Match funding is not required.

Who Can Apply
Applications are accepted from grassroots, not-for-profit voluntary or community organisations (including registered charities/companies) that include members with lived experience.

Organisations must be based in and deliver services in a local area and have local people involved in the running of the organisation.

There is particular interest in applications from organisations that support BAME and LGBTQ communities, who have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

To be eligible organisations must have:

  • An annual turnover of under £250,000.
  • A management committee with an up-to-date Governing Document (eg, constitution) which must be signed by at least two members of the committee who are unrelated to each other.
  • An appropriate safeguarding policy relevant to the organisation and services.
  • A set of audited accounts, or as a minimum an organisation bank statement. Organisations established for less than three months that do not have this information available, must be able to provide proof of their organisation bank account (such as a letter from the bank confirming the account details).


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Projects with a specific religious or political focus.
  • Projects that charge beneficiaries to access the service.
  • Organisations with an annual income of over £250,000.
  • Individuals.
  • Private sector companies/businesses.
  • Statutory organisations including local authorities, parish councils, schools, universities.
  • Unconstituted organisations.
  • Organisations who are not based in England.
  • Organisations that deliver nationally or across more than one English region.

Eligible Expenditure
The funding is for organisations that deliver projects that provide community benefit across one of Comic Relief’s four strategic themes:

  • Children Survive and Thrive: Projects that support children under the age of five to reach their potential and have the best start in life.
  • Fighting for Gender Justice: Projects that improve equality for women, girls and initiatives that help people affected by domestic violence, abuse or exploitation due to their gender.
  • A Safe Place to Be: Projects that support people who are rebuilding their lives because of homelessness or forced migration.
  • Mental Health Matters: Projects that support good mental health in communities, improve access to support and tackle stigma and discrimination.

Funding will be awarded to meet the following objectives:

  • Support grassroots organisations to respond to the needs of vulnerable individuals, families and communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Support local grassroots community led organisations with “lived in” experience to recover and develop organisational resilience following the COVID-19 crisis.

The grants can be used for activities and costs such as the following:

  • Supporting an increased number of homeless beneficiaries with food, shelter and general welfare.
  • Assisting vulnerable families, and/or specifically women and girls in difficult home situations.
  • Providing telephone help lines, food parcels, support with wellbeing and mental health.
  • Increasing organisational capacity by recruiting new volunteers or sessional staff.
  • Improving IT or digital solutions.
  • Hiring suitable spaces for services.
  • Making changes to an existing space in order to provide services eg, protective screens or increasing hand washing facilities.
  • Purchasing new or specialised equipment in order to deliver services.
  • Buying in specialist support to provide counselling, mental health and wellbeing support.
  • Supporting employment, training and skills activities.
  • Increasing range or types of services delivered.
  • Changing or increasing the numbers of people benefiting from a service.
  • Core organisational costs may be included but the scheme will not fund applications which only contribute to organisational general running costs.

Grants must be spent by the end of February 2021.

How To Apply
Applications are assessed on a rolling basis.

Grants will be distributed quickly through a simplified application process and weekly grants panels from August 2020.

This is a short-term response and recovery Fund and it will only be open for applications until the end of 2020. Applications may close earlier if all funds have been awarded.

Guidance notes and an online application form are available on the website of Groundwork.

Payment Procedure
Grants will be release in two instalments – the first 50% within two weeks of approval by the Grants Panel and the final 50% upon receiving an Interim report.

Useful Links
Groundwork – Comic Relief COVID-19 Community Grants

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