Steve Walsh, trusts and grants manager
Why did you apply to this fund? We have always relied heavily on our nucleus of around 60 volunteers in Greater Manchester. We spotted details of the fundon governmentfunding.org.uk last April - this is the first year of the fund - and hoped that the money would help us to recruit 46 volunteers over a two-year period, to take that nucleus to more than 100.
We applied under the fund's 'group dynamics' theme, because we motivate volunteers to sustain their activities through group participation. We run three schemes, but particularly wanted to produce leaflets to attract volunteers to our new 'buddy' scheme, which matches young visually impaired teenagers with a sighted peer. One interesting condition of the grant is that we work in partnership with the Home Office, when reasonably required, to share best practice.
What did the application involve? There were two stages - both involved completing straightforward emailed forms. The first comprised a six-page form with lots of tick-boxes. Upon hearing that we had been approved for the next stage in August, we received a 10-page form that asked for detailed budget plans. Our eventual success, in October, led to an email exchange with a dedicated grants officer, which kept things simple. The forms stressed that they wanted to develop existing volunteer projects.
Is part of the money for infrastructure or training? Yes. There is £18,000 to pay our volunteer co-ordinator for two days a week, and £7,000 for administration and direct line management for him. Some £3,000 is for volunteers to be trained in visual impairment awareness, health and safety and moving and handling people. This is a terrific amount - funders seem to be waking up to the important issue of core costs. Finding funding for our projects is normally a patchwork affair.
Did you apply to other funders? Not for this project. If we hadn't received this money we wouldn't have been able to bring our volunteer development plans forward so quickly.