Celebrating Communities grant support: frequently asked questions

May 7, 2021 Tags:

Birmingham City Council has made £2m of grant funding available to support Birmingham community and voluntary groups to celebrate the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can read about the Celebrating Communities fund here

We’re pleased to be working with Locality and the council’s Neighbourhood Development Support Unit (NDSU) to support Birmingham groups that wish to apply for a Celebrating Communities grant.

Speech bubbles representing a question and answerWe have been delivering a grant briefing session on multiple dates to explain the application process and share details of support available to strengthen your application. Learn more on our Celebrating Communities page. You can get the slides from the session there, and lots more information. We will publish new dates for briefing sessions soon.

Every time we’ve held a session so far, we have gathered attendees’ FAQs and answered them below. If your question isn’t here, please email us at ccsupport@birminghamcommunitymatters.org.uk.

Understanding Birmingham neighbourhoods/wards

The grants are being allocated by wards. How do we find out which ward we’re in?
You can enter your postcode into Birmingham City Council’s ward checker to look up this information.

We need to tailor our project to fit in with our ward’s priorities. Where can we find our ward plan?
Birmingham City Council has a page of ward plans and priorities where you can find the relevant plan for your neighbourhood.

Locality and Birmingham Community Matters are creating ward packs containing useful information to help you with developing your project and putting together your application.

You will find the ward plans we’ve compiled so far in this public folder.

Can a project span several wards?
Potentially, yes. But do consider the fact that projects will be agreed at a ward forum via a voting process. You should ensure that your project can be delivered even if ‘part’ funded.

Our suggestion is to apply within your ward of interest (or the one in which your group is based) – unless you are known in two or more wards have a track record of delivering cross-ward.

Will the grant totals be included in the ward packs?
Yes. Each ward pack will give details of the total Celebrating Communities fund allocated to each ward.

If we become aware of how much money will be allocated to each of the two rounds of funding we will update this information – although allocations are likely to depend on the number of applicants.

Why does each ward have a different funding amount allocated to it?
The allocation of funding for each ward was drawn up by Birmingham City Council, determined by various data that included indices of multiple deprivation, population size and councillors per ward.

Are any wards in the city merging their funding pots?
Not currently – although a councillor from one of Birmingham’s wards has asked about this possibility. Check with your local councillor on whether their ward may seek to pool resources and allow for project delivery over a wider area.

We want to talk to our local councillor about our Celebrating Communities project idea. How do we contact them?
You can find out who your councillors are and how to contact them here.

Are some wards being given priority support with this grant application?
No. Originally, Birmingham City Council had identified 30 wards across the city in which groups could access additional support with their Celebrating Communities applications. This support is now available to all community/voluntary groups in Birmingham.

Being eligible to apply

Do we need to have a physical base in the ward or in Birmingham to apply for a project?
No, but it is preferred and recommended that you do. If you don’t have a physical base in Birmingham, you will need to show a local connection or benefit for the ward. It is important to keep in mind that local residents, councillors and other local representatives are the people voting to support your project.

Can sole traders apply for a Celebrating Communities grant?
No. Private businesses are not eligible to apply and this includes sole traders.

Our organisation is awaiting registration as a CIC or CIO. Can we still apply for the grant?
Yes, you can apply for the grant while awaiting registration, but your organisation will need to have governance arrangements in place (that is: registered chair, secretary and board members, and an existing organisational bank account) before any grant payment can be transferred.

Planning and timing 

NEW Is there a guide to planning our project?
Yes! Please take a look at this pamphlet developed especially for Celebrating Communities: ‘Developing your community project’

What are the start dates for funded projects?
Activities for projects funded via Round 1 can start from Thursday 1 October 2021. All project activities must have started by the run-up to the Games – that is, before Thursday 28 July 2022.

Is there a cut-off date for activities to be held?
Project activities must be completed by Wednesday 31 August 2022. Of course some types of projects may last longer, during what is known as the ‘post-Games Legacy period’.

Are we allowed to run activities at the same time as the Commonwealth Games (for example, a sports event on the same day as the equivalent Games event)?
Yes, your activities can run at the same time as the Games.

Is it OK if our project focuses on just one of the Commonwealth countries, rather than all?
Yes – that’s no problem.

If we’re successful in securing a grant, will we get Commonwealth Games merchandise to use in our project?
No, but we will update this information if anything changes.

Can groups partner up and apply for a grant jointly?
Yes, of course.

Will details of successful projects from Round 1 be published? 
Yes. You will be able to see how much funding is left per ward and the kinds of projects that have already been funded. Watch this space!

If our project is ready to go before October 2021 (or February 2022 for Round 2), can we get started?
Our advice is NOT to start your project until your funding has been confirmed, and you have signed the conditions of grant aid paperwork. If you are able to cover the project costs in the event of your application being unsuccessful then of course the decision about commencing at risk is up to you.

Being Covid-safe

The worry about coronavirus makes it harder to plan events. What support is available?
We completely understand. Birmingham Community Matters has been compiling resources on delivering community activities safely – please see our blog post on bringing volunteers back as we emerge from the pandemic. The government has published extensive guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community activities too. Watch this space for information on Covid-safe delivery sessions.

Linking in with council services to deliver activities

Useful documents:
> Map of Birmingham: wards and engineers, with contact details

We would like to seek funding to provide street furniture (for example, benches) as part of our application. How much knowledge should we have about the process before we apply?
Please make your local councillor aware of your intention and, with their support, seek guidance from your local highways engineer and – if relevant – parks manager, and so on.

And watch this space: we will produce guidance around street furniture, outlining the process and any costs involved, where this information is available.

We would like to hold a street party – what do we need to know about closing our road?
We will produce a guide on road closures, including the process, timescale and any costs involved.

In the meantime, if you think your project will require a street closure, please make your local councillor aware of your intention and, with their support, seek guidance from your local highways engineer. Here is Birmingham City Council’s current road closure application form, to give you an idea of the information you will need to provide.

How can we link in with council services to manage our event – for example, street cleaning, waste management, and so on?
Please email your local councillor for support as they have details of service managers.

Making applications

Can we apply more than once per round of funding?
Yes, if you are planning distinct projects within your ward(s) and you have the capacity to deliver them both. Please note, though, that there is a finite amount of funding per ward (see section on Birmingham neighbourhoods/wards above) and there will be multiple applicants seeking grants

Can we claim for costs of work undertaken before receiving the grant (for example, for preparation work)?
No – as with most grant schemes, you can’t retrospectively claim for costs incurred before the grant was awarded.

The application form says that three quotes for capital items are required, from businesses listed on FinditinBirmingham. Is there a minimum threshold of expenditure that this applies to?
Yes, you must seek three quotes from businesses listed on FinditinBirmingham (finditinbirmingham.com) for capital projects of £1,000 and over.

Is there a list of preferred suppliers to provide services at the events/activities (for example, photographers)?
No there isn’t. The onus is on applicants to apply for funding and then to contract/commission any suppliers independently.

Will local people be paid for their professional services relating to the events/activities (such as photographers)?
The onus is on applicants to cover payments for project costs such as photography, supplies, services and so on.

Please confirm the closing date for applications in Round 2?
The closing date for Round 2 applications is Tuesday 30 November.

Understanding the voting process

We understand that applications will be considered at ward forums. Who gets to vote for the projects that get funded?
Applicants will be invited to the relevant (virtual) ward forum, alongside the usual ward forum attendees. Voting will be facilitated by a neutral facilitator, using either a show of hands, the virtual meeting chat box or a digital voting poll.

We would like some support with pitching our project at the ward forum stage. Is there any help available?
Yes! We are working with Locality to host a session called ‘Creating and presenting your funding pitch’, which will be available on several dates, starting on Monday 12 July. This is for people who made an application in Round 1. You can sign up from our Eventbrite page.

What if people can’t attend the ward forum – can they still vote?
Yes, they will be able to vote by email.

Being successful! 

If our application is successful, when will we receive payment to deliver our project?
Birmingham City Council’s NDSU team, which is managing this grant programme, does not want community groups to be out of pocket in delivering Celebrating Communities projects. So the council will endeavour to pay grants in full to successful applicants as soon as possible (once all necessary paperwork has been submitted, and applicants have been set up as council vendors), at the start of the project.

How will projects be monitored and evaluated?
As part of the monitoring and evaluation of your project you will need to submit a paper-based report on outputs. The NDSU team would like to see in a range of ways the impact your project has – including via photos, videos and visits. Successful applicants may be given a smartphone app for capturing photos, videos, quotes and ratings from participants: you’ll get further information and support with this if your application is successful.

Seeking part funding or further funding 

Our project has lots of different parts. Can we present it in our application as a ‘package’ and seek funding for all or part(s) of it?
Yes you can. It makes good sense in the finance section of your application to ‘itemise’ your project elements against their costs to maximise the possibility of all or part of your project being funded.

Is there a potential for the application to be granted but not for the amount requested? (For example – could an applicant request £500 but have the ward forum approve only £250?)
This could happen, if applicants have itemised elements of their project by cost and then voters deem a particular element to be more aligned with funding priorities than others. It might also happen where ward funding allocation is oversubscribed (that is – more applications than funding), in order to maximise the number of projects that can receive funding.

We want to do much more than the Celebrating Communities grant will cover. Help!
There may be additional grants you could apply for outside of Celebrating Communities.

The NDSU team prepares a weekly External Funding bulletin which you may find useful.

If your group’s income is less than £30,000 per annum you can use My Funding Central to search for other grant opportunities.

Birmingham-based Get Grants hosts a Funding Finder on its website – and it’s worth signing up to Get Grants’ monthly newsletter which contains details of grants and trust funds.

Please could you explain how Creative City Grants fit in with all this?
Birmingham City Council is running another fund called Creative City Grants (formerly Creative Communities), encouraging arts-led activity surrounding the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Find out more at www.birmingham2022.com/culture/creativecitygrants.

Can we apply to the Creative City grants programme AND Celebrating Communities?
Yes, you can apply to both the Creative City grants programme and the Celebrating Communities grants programme to support your creative project.

It is important that you do not apply to two or more grant programmes for the same costs for the same activity, though. This is called double funding.


If we are not successful in Round 1 at the ward forum stage, can we apply for Round 2?
Yes. Do take on board the feedback that you receive at the ward forum, about why your project was not funded in that round, and adapt your next application accordingly. We highly recommend you attend a grant briefing session if you haven’t done so yet.

If our Round 1 application isn’t successful will it be automatically considered in Round 2?
To avoid further disappointment, you should take up the feedback given, strengthen your application and re-submit it in Round 2.

This page was last updated on Wednesday 11 August 2021.