Blog: Bristol City Council’s Bristol Impact Fund 2 – What to expect

2 February, 2021
Mark Hubbard Voscur

Blog written by Mark Hubbard, Development Director at Voscur

It’s great news that the Bristol Impact Fund will continue, especially after the recent challenges for people, communities and organisations due to coronavirus. 

The council recently consulted on its proposals for the second Bristol Impact Fund and many Bristol VCSE organisations are interested.

There are several points of interest in the proposal (as published November 2020): 

  • Overall goal of the new fund will be “To build city resilience by growing the power of communities experiencing the greatest inequality.”  
  • Funding priorities: “we will prioritise funding for groups and organisations that put forward work proposals which aim to strengthen the capacity of equalities-led groups, neighbourhood communities and people experiencing the greatest inequality to lead and influence the city.”
  • Three impacts: “Equalities-led groups, neighbourhood communities and people experiencing the greatest inequality are better able to: 
    1. Support one another, self-organise, use their collective assets (e.g. interests, skills, experience, time, buildings, resources) to pursue collective priorities and solve shared problems.
    2. Build strong and sustainable voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. 
    3. Be in a strong position to collaborate with Bristol City Council and the One City Partnership to understand and work to address inequality caused by poverty and low income, class, racism, sexism, disablism, heterosexism or ageism and bring about meaningful change for people experiencing these inequalities.”
  • Grants: Small, medium, large and collaborations. 
  • Applications: from 1 March to mid-April 2021. 
  • Grants start date: 1 July 2021.

In response to feedback from VCSE organisations, Voscur coordinated a response to the consultation, which can be downloaded here. The council’s consideration of consultation feedback is ongoing and there has been a series of ‘heads up’ meetings so that potential applicants are aware of changes in the run-up to the formal decision at Cabinet (which was scheduled for 2 February, and is now scheduled for 25 February). 

The information shared at these informal meetings must be taken with a pinch of salt: the changes to the second Bristol Impact Fund proposals can only be confirmed at the Cabinet meeting. As such, the earliest formal documentation in the public domain will be published by the council in the Cabinet papers, which are due to be published on the 17th February. 

As Voscur is aware that many VCSE organisations are interested in Bristol Impact Fund 2, I attended the first ‘heads-up’ meeting and I am sharing information in this blog. The following proposed changes as a result of the consultation responses were noted: 

  • Start date for new grants: proposed change from 1 July to 1 October 2021.
  • The first Bristol Impact Fund grants currently running are proposed to be extended to 30 September. 
  • Longer application window: proposed to be extended from six to 10 weeks.
  • Proposed nine-month development period for new grants – to support applicants’ move from crisis to more sustainable ways of working, and develop collaborations.
  • Proposed fourth impact to be added: accessing trusted and empowering support and services. 
  • Stronger emphasis of the importance of inclusion and role of trusted organisations to make this happen. 
  • Stronger links to VCSE sector research being conducted by BSWN, Voscur and Locality. 
  • Emphasis of the move towards community development models, not an expectation that these models would exist on day one (as some had perceived).

All in all, these proposed changes ought to address the concerns that Voscur heard from the VCSE sector, and it’s great that points made by the sector in the consultation have been heard and are being addressed. I believe these changes will make the fund more accessible and the extra time in the process should allow more organisations to get involved.

It must be emphasised that these are proposed, and they will be in the public domain in Cabinet papers (on 17 February) and, if approved by Cabinet (on 25 February), will inform the roll-out of the Bristol Impact Fund in the coming months. 

We advise VCSE sector organisations to consider the proposed changes in their preparations and to note that things may change in the run-up to Cabinet. 

As always, Voscur is here to support community organisations. As the second Bristol Impact Fund plans become more solid, our support services will help Bristol VCSE organisations to get involved. For more information, please see our dedicated webpage.