Celebrating Communities is a £2m fund run by Birmingham City Council which provides small grants (£100-£10,000) for projects to help mark – and connect communities to – next year’s Commonwealth Games in the city. The deadline for round 1 proposals is 1 June 2021 for projects starting from October 2021. There will be a further round of bidding with a deadline of 1 January 2022.
Guidance and online application forms are available on Birmingham City Council’s website. Below is a summary of this and additional information to help Children’s Quarter members and people working with them to apply successfully. You should read the Council’s guidance before you apply in order to come to your own understanding. Before you start making an online application, we also suggest:
Download our spreadsheet showing the Celebrating Communities application forms questions – so that you can draft your answers and then cut and paste them online when you are ready to apply
Sign up for a Council online BRUM account using a work or group email so that you or other members of your group can save your application and go back to it if you need before hitting the ‘Submit’ button
Have a look in particular at the map below which has links to ward councillors, ward plans where they exist and gives the allocations of the fund by ward
Get in touch with the councillor(s) in the ward in which you will be applying, have a look at the ward action plan priorities, talk to other local groups and go to the ward forum meetings (which are currently all online).
What Can You Apply For?
Celebrating Communities will fund projects which deliver against at least one of three themes:
Getting Active – encouraging communities to take part in sports and recreational activities. The overriding aim should be to encourage residents, of all abilities and ages, to engage in physical activity and improve their health and wellbeing. This includes play and informal physical activity, not just traditional/organisations sport.
Ready, Steady, Fun – delivering community projects to ensure a local area is ‘Games ready’ – by which BCC means, for example, improving communal space or hosting community celebrations to connect people and foster civic pride.
Celebrating Culture – developing community-led cultural events and initiatives that encourage intergenerational activities. Proposed schemes should harness the power of culture to bring people together, celebrate their identities, Birmingham’s place in the Commonwealth and the culture, heritage and stories of their communities.
As well as showing that what you propose fits with one or more of these, pretty broad, themes, you will need to show:
Links to local priorities – in particular to any priorities set out by councillors in the local ward plan (where there is one)
That your project will help local people engage with the Commonwealth Games and that it celebrates some link with the Games and the values on which they are based
That your group benefitted people in the ward in the past – if you are a city-wide group, you might want to partner with a locally-based group.
Who Can Apply For How Much and Where?
There are 3 tiers of grant available:
£100 to £1000 – community groups can apply for one-off funding or running costs for a project of up to 12 months duration. If a group hasn’t got a constitution and a bank account, it can still apply but will need a constituted organisation with a bank account to act as its sponsor.
£1001 to £5000 – non-profit groups and organisations of all sorts, schools and social enterprises can apply for funding for a one-off event or a project lasting up to 12 months. Applicants need to be constituted; have a management committee or equivalent, bank account, financial policy, and the necessary safeguarding policies etc
£5001 to £10,000 – as above, except that as well as applying for money for one-off events or projects of up to one year duration, groups can apply for small capital items too. If a group applies for capital items (like a vehicle or installing permanent play equipment etc) then it has to produce a plan for managing the asset and get three competitive quotes from City Council approved suppliers.
There are separate application forms for each of the tiers. They ask slightly different questions. You can download a spreadsheet here which analyses the questions asked in each form. You will see that anyone applying for a Celebrating Communities grant will need to specify the council ward in which the project will take place. For anything above £1000, applicants will also need to show that they have a track record of delivering in the local ward and that what they are proposing fits with the local ward plan. We suggest:
Download the application questions spreadsheet and have a look through the questions before you start filling an application online
Think carefully before applying for capital amounts – you’ll need to get three competitive quotes from Council-approved suppliers listed on the FindItInBirmingham website (which you’ll need to register for) and submit a plan for the ongoing management of the asset you want to buy
Plan your project with your community and let councillors know what you’re proposing, so that you can get their advice and ideas. You might need to look in particular at showing how you would measure the impact of what you’re proposing – here are a couple of sites that might help:
Look at the map below and check the councillor contacts, the ward plans (where they exist) and the amount each ward has to allocate:
Process and Timescale
Celebrating Communities is a £2m fund, of which £1.6m will be allocated by councillors and ward forums in Birmingham’s 69 wards shown above – wards with one councillor are coloured blue and wards with two councillors are coloured green. Click on thee map to find Birmingham City Council links to the local councillor(s); the ward plan (where one has been published) and the total amount of Celebrating Communities money they will be allocating. (Note: wards vary in the amount they will have to allocate according to whether they are single or double-member wards and the level of deprivation in them according to the government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation). This emphasis on wards is the key to the way the Council is managing the fund. If you remember the Council’s past Community Chest or LILA funding schemes, you’ll get an idea of the process (and you might get an idea that quick decisions aren’t likely).
Here’s the process for round 1 in brief:
Applications submitted by 1 June will be reviewed by the Council and then either allocated to the appropriate ward or returned to the applicant for further work. Ward forums (made up of any local people who want to attend) will meet during July – September to decide which proposals to put forward. In practice, we think, ward councillors will make the decisions, but they will have reference to their ward forum. Successful proposers will be issued by Conditions of Grant Aid in late September 2021. Projects will be able to start from October 2021 onwards. In October, the process starts all over again with a second round to allocate any remaining funds closing to applications in January 2022.
Note, by the way, that many wards have not yet agreed ward plans. If you follow the letter of what the Council has said about Celebrating Communities process, then wards without ward plans will not be given their allocation of small grants. In practice, we think, wards without ward plans (and some of those with) will agree (or refresh) a local priority list before September 2021 – some will be doing this in May and June. You can check the times, dates, agendas and minutes for ward forums at the Birmingham City Council website (but you may need to register for the Council’s CMIS online first).
Download Birmingham City Council’s Celebrating Communities Councillor Presentation on Celebrating Communities – Feb 2021.