Common Purpose grants

Voluntary and community sector support

Southwark’s Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) is diverse and vibrant. It offers a huge range of services to local people as well as lots of opportunities to volunteer in your community. Services range from care for older people to making our borough greener, help with using IT, tackling loneliness and isolation, legal advice and emergency food help.

Many people seated, eating and talking about VCG support

The council works with the local VCS in several ways:

  • by providing financial help and other support to VCS organisations
  • by developing local policies and strategies together that make life better for residents
  • by providing premises from which they can deliver services
  • by providing advice and information

This is all part of how the council is working towards its wider goals, which are set out in the Council Plan.

As part of the council’s action plan of Southwark Stands Together, and in response to the pandemic impact on our communities, we've looked at our grant making to Southwark’s VCS via two independent reviews:

  1. Southwark Stands Together grants review that examined whether there are obstacles to Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups making successful grant applications (Appendix 1 of the subsequent Cabinet report).
  2. Community investment review, which looked at the effectiveness of funding to deliver outcomes (Appendix 2 of the subsequent Cabinet report).

The recommendations are:

  • that an allocation of an additional £400k in grant funding, with £200k of this to be available specifically for groups that self-identify as Black Asian and minority-led be approved
    • the funding will support our community organisations to recover from pandemic impacts, to thrive and self-organise, to strengthen networks, partnerships, and equalities infrastructure and support more inclusive and responsive service delivery
    • this funding is additional to the other funding which will remain available for all community groups as advertised
    •  We opened for Equality grant applications early in 2023
  • that it be noted that organisations will be identified as Black Asian and minority ethnic led if the organisation self-identifies as Black Asian or minority ethnic led and 75% of the governing body
    • for example, the board of trustees, directors, management committee and 50% of the senior staff of the organisation (key decision makers) self-identify as being from that specific community or identity
  • that all grant and commissioning teams collect data about the protected characteristics not only of service users of organisations we're considering funding or commissioning but also the composition of the board or management of an organisation; so we're able to identify who is leading the groups we fund and as well as those who are not successful in their applications or tenders
  • that officers build a database of Black, Asian and minority ethnic led organisations in the borough, so we're better able to include and act positively to encourage and support Black Asian and minority ethnic led groups to access funding opportunities
  • that a funding prospectus will be developed; pdate - this has been created, view the funding prospectus (PDF, 4.9mb)

Community Southwark is the umbrella organisation for the VCS in the borough. Its role is to be the voice for the sector, to provide services such as training and fundraising advice as well as support for volunteering and social action.

The Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy (PDF, 3.2mb) for Southwark sets out a vision of thriving community organisations that better meet the needs of our residents. It was developed in partnership with the local VCS and Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group in 2016. For shorter versions, you can download the exec summary (PDF, 69kb) and summary (PDF, 62kb) of the strategy.

We're committed to being open and transparent in all our dealings with the VCS. This is set out in the Southwark Compact (PDF, 100kb) which is an agreement between us, the VCS and other partners on the way we work together.

Lists of all VCS organisations funded by the council from 2013 are available on the open data page.

All funding from the council to the VCS aims to achieve outcomes set out in the Common Outcomes Framework (PDF, 776kb).

There is a forward plan (PDF, 762kb) of council funding opportunities - both grants and contracts.

All organisations in receipt of grant funding from the council must abide by the Conditions of Grant Funding (PDF, 89kb).

If your organisation needs council support for an application to another funder, we've produced some guidelines for how the council will decide whether to endorse an application. (PDF, 227kb)

Other useful websites

Advice and guidance

Other sources of funding

Common Outcomes Framework

The Southwark Common Outcomes Framework (PDF, 776kb) will be reviewed as a new Funding Prospectus is developed during spring/summer 2022. The existing framework sets out outcomes for how Southwark’s communities can be safer, healthier, more engaged, greener and more vibrant.

This is in line with the Common Purpose Common Cause (PDF, 3.2mb) voluntary sector strategy which sets out an ambition to make council commissioning - grants and contracts - more joined up and more focussed on outcomes for residents.

The framework is intended as a tool for council commissioners. When advertising funding opportunities, commissioners will select outcomes from the framework that they want commissioned organisations to achieve. The outcomes they select will relate to their own service objectives.

Organisations applying for funding will be asked to set out how they intend to achieve these outcomes. They will also be asked to set out the indicators they will use to measure how they're achieving these outcomes.

The framework is intended to make council commissioning better directed to improving the wellbeing of residents and more consistent across departments.

Guidance on using the framework is included in the framework document.

Page last updated: 27 September 2023


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