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Small Sparks Grants Programme

Author: Bob Rhodes

The idea of Small Sparks was pioneered in the UK by Carl Poll, based on the Small Sparks Fund in Seattle. It is low cost, practical and engaging innovation for any community. Here Bob Rhodes outlines how it can work at the level of the parish as he sets out the framework published by Ruspidge and Soudley Parish Council. 

Small Sparks Grants Programme

Why?

It is a simple fact; communities are more resilient and are better places to live when people know each other and do things together. The demands of modern life have colluded to create circumstances where this is no longer the experience of many of us. The Small Sparks Grant Scheme demonstrates the Parish Council’s commitment to support the reinvention of more connected communities and offers matched funding support to groups of citizens who care about something enough to want to do something about the thing they care about. That might be starting a club or sporting team, doing something purposeful with and for children & young people, improving their local surroundings, or running a community event – the possibilities are too many to state. However the over-riding criteria will be that the group of people care enough to really do whatever ‘it’ might be.

It’s worth saying that we have not invented this idea. There are hosts of Small Sparks initiatives around the UK and overseas and they have proved invaluable in re-connecting people and communities and making towns and villages better places to live.

Matched funding?

This is actually a really simple idea. To get funding you simply need to demonstrate that your group will invest time, goods, equipment and/or expertise that equates to or exceeds the funding requested and, more importantly, convince us (The Parish Council) that you will do what you say you are going to do, make the most of the public funds on offer, and keep both us and the wider community informed and involved subsequently.

How much can you apply for?

You can apply for a Small Sparks Grant of up to £500

How do you qualify?

At least 4 Ruspidge and Soudley residents need to be actively contributing and your activities need to take place within the Parish and for the benefit of Parishioners. You will need to be committed to involving more local people in your project or activity and to answer the following questions persuasively:

Q1. Who is involved in planning and implementing your proposal?

  • Who is leading?
  • Who will act as Treasurer?
  • Who will keep the Parish Council and Community informed?
  • Can any Parishioner join in?

Q2. What are you going to achieve? 

  • Please be specific
  • Be brief
  • Be explicit about your timescale
  • Say how will you measure your success

Q3. Who is pledging their time or other assets?

  • Who is contributing what (if hours say how many hours per person)?
  • What else do you need to be successful?
  • Show these contributions match or exceed to value of the grant for which you are applying

Q4. How will you do what you intend to do?

Please set out a plan with explicit steps and a timescale.

Q5. How will your scheme benefit other members of the Ruspidge & Soudley community?

Q6. Will you share your progress and learning with others?

Who will keep the Parish Council informed of the progress of your scheme and place an annual account in Viewpoint?

Q7. How much money are you asking for?

  • How will this be spent?
  • When will you need the money?
  • Please provide a simple draft budget.

Q8. Contact information

The name and contact details of the person we should liaise with. Please be concise in answering these questions. Your application should be no longer than 750 words (2 x A4 max.) Please submit your application to the Parish Clerk who will be happy to respond to any queries you may have.


Visit the Ruspidge and Soudley Parish Council website to read more here.