Grants are available for VCSE organisations in England to run projects that improve outcomes for mothers and babies in deprived areas or from BAME backgrounds from preconception to up to 2-and-a-half years of age.

Funding body: Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
Maximum value: £ 510,000
Application deadline: 30/10/2020

The VCSE Health and Wellbeing Fund is part of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Programme, which was launched in 2017, and is a joint initiative by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England and NHS Improvement. The Programme works with VCSE organisations to promote equality and address health inequalities and help people, families and communities to achieve and maintain wellbeing.

The objectives of the Programme are to:

  • Encourage co-production in the creation of person-centred, community-based health and care which promotes equality for all.
  • Enable the voice of people with lived experience and those experiencing health inequalities to inform national policy making and shape service delivery.
  • Build evidence of sustainable, scalable solutions to mitigate and prevent inequalities impacting on health and wellbeing of communities.

The Programme consists of:

  • A national partnership arrangement: the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.
  • Funding for bespoke projects: the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Fund. This will have one specific theme each year.

Objectives of Fund
The aim of the Fund is to promote equality and reduce health inequalities by building the evidence base about good practice, sharing lessons and widening the adoption of interventions with a proven track record. Each funding round focusses on a different theme. Previous rounds have focussed on social prescribing and children’s and young people’s mental health.

The current funding round focusses on giving people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) or poorer backgrounds the best chance at a healthy start in life.

Value Notes
Grants of between £200,000 and £510,000 are available over three financial years.

A total of 3.3 million will be awarded in grants and it is anticipated that approximately 20 projects will be funded.

Who Can Apply
Voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations can apply.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be not-for-profit, and:
    • Incorporated (this would be a Company Limited by Guarantee and registered with Companies House; a Community Interest Company; a Co-operative; an industrial and provident society; or a Social Enterprise) OR
    • Have charitable status (registered with the Charity Commission).
    • Be based and registered in England and plan to operate this project in England only.
    • Not apply for grant funding amount of more than 25% of their current annual turnover, as demonstrated by their audited or independently examined accounts.
    • Have been working with families and carers with children from preconception to two and a half years old for the past three years.
    • Have an equal opportunities, health and safety and safeguarding policy.
    • Demonstrate that they have a clear connection to at least one of the target communities.


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • National VCSE organisations unless it is clear that they are directly working with local communities.
  • Paying for lobbying, which means using grant funds to undertake activities intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political activity; or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action.
  • Using grant funds to directly enable one part of government to challenge another on topics unrelated to the agreed purpose of the grant.
  • Using grant funding to petition for additional funding.
  • Input VAT reclaimable by the Grant Recipient from HMRC.
  • Payments for activities of a political or exclusively religious nature.
  • Goods or services that the Grant Recipient has a statutory duty to provide.
  • Payments reimbursed or to be reimbursed by other public or private sector grants.
  • Contributions in kind (i.e. a contribution in goods or services, as opposed to money).
  • Depreciation, amortisation or impairment of fixed assets owned by the Grant Recipient.
  • The acquisition or improvement of fixed assets by the Grant Recipient (unless the grant is explicitly for capital use – this will be stipulated in the Grant Offer Letter).
  • Interest payments (including service charge payments for finance leases).
  • Gifts to individuals.
  • Entertaining (entertaining for this purpose means anything that would be a taxable benefit to the person being entertained, according to current UK tax regulations).
  • Statutory fines, criminal fines or penalties.
  • Liabilities incurred before the issue of the funding agreement unless agreed in writing by the Funder.

Eligible Expenditure
The theme of the 2020-21 funding round is Starting Well.

Funding is available for projects that improve health outcomes for children from preconception to two and a half years old in one of more of the following communities:

Children in areas of high deprivation (including urban, rural and coastal areas).
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.
To be eligible projects should aim to support the following health outcomes:

  • Improvement in perinatal mental health.
  • Reduction in the percentage of babies born with low birthweight.
  • An increase in babies being breastfed.
  • Obesity prevention and support.
  • Reduced smoking or smoke-free homes.
  • Improvement in learning and speech and language development.
  • High immunisation rates and reduction in rates of preventable disease.
  • The grants are to be used to expand or develop existing projects and programmes that have been running for at least three years, and which are whole-family and/or community-centred.

Projects must be strategically linked up with other local initiatives and service planning and must not be duplicating another local initiative.

How To Apply
Organisations interested in applying are strongly advised to attend one of the webinars taking place on:

8 September 2020 (2pm – 3pm).
10 September 2020 (2pm – 3pm).
Registration for the webinars will be limited to one person per organisation, and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Organisations should email to register.

Applications for the Fund are accepted until 12 noon on 30 October 2020.

The Fund’s information pack and the application form can be found on the GOV.UK website. The completed application form and supporting documents should be submitted by email. Hard copies will not be accepted.

Useful Links
GOV.UK – Health and Wellbeing Fund 2020-21

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