Grants of up to £15,000 for projects that build resilient, caring and supportive communities in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to creating a greener, fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire. Our Cultivate Cambs fund awards grants of £2,000 to £15,000 for initiatives that help to achieve this broad vision by supporting our residents – adults and older people with care and support needs, and children, young people and families – to live independently, safe and well in thriving and inclusive communities.

The fund focuses on three of the council’s strategic priorities:

Places and Communities – Communities are inclusive, creative and equitable

Health and Care – People in Cambridgeshire enjoy healthy, safe and independent lives

Children and Young People – Children and young people have the opportunity to thrive

Grant applicants will also need to consider how their project could take steps to help the council to combat climate change and improve the natural environment.

All project proposals must also meet the following key fund criteria:

  • Reduce pressure on council services and/or offer direct savings for the council
  • Be either new or build on an existing project in a new location or with new beneficiaries
  • Benefit residents of Cambridgeshire (excludes residents of the Peterborough City Council local authority area)

The fund is open to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations, based in and outside of Cambridgeshire, and public sector bodies in Cambridgeshire.

Funding Priorities
We are seeking applications for projects that build places and communities that are inclusive, creative and equitable, where adults and older people with care and support needs can enjoy healthy, safe and independent lives, and children, young people and families can thrive.

The following sections set out our key funding priorities.

Need inspiration? Cultivate Ideas offer guidance and support to set up a range of community-led projects.

Places and Communities
The council has adopted a Think Communities approach of working collaboratively alongside our community and partners to support, strengthen and empower residents and communities.   The Think Communities vision is to build thriving, inclusive communities that take action. Communities that are proud of their local initiatives and invested in their future. Communities where people have the skills, resources, knowledge, and expertise they need to help themselves, and have easy access to services and support that meets their needs.  Communities where people are healthy and feel safe.

We are seeking bids for community-led projects that help us to achieve our vision. We’re keen to hear your ideas, but if you need inspiration, we’ve also compiled Cultivate Ideas that offer guidance for setting up the following community projects.

New! Enhanced Community Food Project:  Community food projects offer access to food for people who are facing food poverty and insecurity. Grants are available to enhance existing community food projects to offer additional support and activities that help people to move from emergency food dependence toward food resilience and independence by addressing some of the root causes of their food poverty.  Guidance on applying for funding to enhance your community food project can be found here.

New! Care Micro-enterprise: Care Micro-enterprises help adults and older people to have greater choice and control over how their care needs are met and to remain independent in their own homes. Care Micro-enterprises are very small organisations set up by people looking to provide local care and support that may include personal care, help with cleaning or gardening, short respite breaks, or support to attend learning or leisure activities. Some Care Micro-enterprises are run by one person, working on their own, while others employ a small number of staff. To be a micro-enterprise you must have eight or fewer paid or unpaid workers and be totally independent of any larger organisations. Guidance on applying for funding to start up your Care Micro-enterprise can be found here

Community Youth Worker: Community youth workers support young people to transition to independence and adulthood.  They help young people to build life skills, develop healthy relationships and make decisions that are right for them. They also lead and support young people and community volunteers to fund, plan, design and deliver valuable youth clubs, projects and positive activities for young people locally.  Guidance on applying for funding to employ a part time Community Youth Worker can be found here.

Timebank: This offers a way for people to help each other by exchanging skills. For example, a member can spend an hour helping an older person to the shops and in return spend that hour on help from other members, such as gardening or IT support. Co-ordinators match people’s skills, arrange exchanges and keep a record of members’ “banked” hours. Timebanks are open to everyone and work hard to help people make new connections, thus reducing loneliness and isolation. Guidance on applying to start a Timebank can be found here and you can watch this video of Houghton & Wyton Timebank.

Good Neighbour Scheme: This is a group of local volunteers offering support to people in their community who may need a helping hand such as older people, people with disabilities, single parents and young mothers, or anyone who is ill or isolated. Volunteers help with simple tasks such as transport for appointments, running errands, household tasks and visiting people. Schemes encourage both participants and volunteers to play an active role in their community.  Guidance on applying to start a Good Neighbour Scheme can be found here and you can watch this video of Colne Caring Community.

Community Warden Scheme: These schemes help elderly, frail and disabled residents to live independently in their own homes by offering regular contact and support through home visits, phone calls and practical assistance.   Wardens check in with clients on agreed weekly schedules to ensure they’re well and can help to collect prescriptions or small items from local shops, make appointments, fill in forms, provide information and guidance and connect clients with other support services. Wardens can also act as links between clients, health care providers and their family members. Guidance on applying for funding for a Community Warden Scheme can be found here.

Men’s Shed: A ‘Shed’ is a place where people come together to make and mend whilst sharing skills and friendship. They typically attract older men, but many have younger members and women too, and some are called Community Sheds. Sheds often get involved in community projects – restoring village features, helping maintain green spaces, running Repair Cafes, and building things for schools, libraries, and individuals in need. Sheds can help people to gain a renewed sense of purpose and belonging, remain independent, and reduce their feelings of isolation.  Guidance on applying to start a Men’s Shed can be found here, and you can watch this video of Ramshed in Ramsey.

Dementia Friendly Community: A dementia friendly community is a place where people with dementia enjoy living, feel part of, are understood, respected and supported. Setting one up involves raising awareness through promotion and Dementia Friends training and encouraging local organisations and businesses to take simple actions as part of their commitment to become more dementia-friendly. This takes various forms, such as introducing rest benches or training staff members, so that people with dementia can be supported to live in the community they choose.  Guidance on applying for a grant to help you to enhance or develop your Dementia Friendly Community can be found here and you can watch this video of St Ives Dementia Friendly Community.

Coming soon! Youth Peer to Peer Mentoring

Health and Care - Adults with Care and Support Needs
We are seeking applications for projects that support adults with care and support needs to enjoy healthy, safe and independent lives, with a specific focus on the following key client groups:

  • Older people
  • Adults (18+) with disabilities (learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities), sensory impairments, mental health needs
  • Carers

The council is most interested in bids that are community-led. Bids should demonstrate how they will be sustainable in the longer-term after any initial grant funding ends.

All bids should reflect the approach to prevention and early intervention outlined in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Adult Social Care Market Position Statement and should not duplicate current provision.

Three key themes:

1) Maintaining and maximising independence

Schemes or activities that have a focus on prevention and early intervention and which help people to maintain and maximise their independence.

Description of theme:

The council is keen to see the development of new schemes, or expansion and development of existing projects which prevent adults and older people reaching crisis.

Some examples of what this may include are outlined below:

  • Crisis prevention – schemes that help to identify people before they reach a crisis or support them afterwards, such as support following a stay in hospital, parish nursing projects, community warden schemes, etc.
  • Promoting the use of Technology Enabled Care (TEC) – schemes that promote the uptake and use of TEC solutions to support people with a disability or illness, or who are frail due to older age.
  • Healthy living – schemes that support people to live healthy lifestyles. For example, this could include schemes around falls prevention or developing a dementia-friendly community.
  • Participation – schemes that help adults and older people to participate in activities that support health and wellbeing. This could include things such as peer support schemes (for example for carers).

2) Connecting to the local community and staying well

Schemes or activities that help adults, older people and carers stay independent, safe and well and connected to their community.

Description of theme

The council is keen to see the development of new schemes, or expansion and development of existing projects that help adults, older people, and carers to play an active part in their community and address any barriers that may stop them from doing this.

Some examples of what this may include are outlined below:

  • Social isolation and loneliness – schemes that help people who may be experiencing loneliness and isolation due to disability or older age. This could include developing lunch clubs, social activities, digital inclusion projects, or community groups such as men’s sheds.
  • Good Neighbour Schemes– schemes that support people to live independently and safely in their own homes. This could include helping with shopping, picking up prescriptions, gardening, etc.
  • Timebanks– schemes that allow local people to help each other by exchanging knowledge, help and skills. For example, a Timebank member can choose to give an hour of their time helping an older person get to the local shops and in return receive an hour back on any services which other Timebank members are offering, whether it be gardening, IT support or companionship
  • Employment – schemes that support adults with disabilities (for example, learning disabilities, those on the autistic spectrum, physical disabilities), sensory impairments, or mental health needs, into paid employment and/or enable them to remain in employment.

3) People having greater choice and control over how their care needs are met

Schemes or activities that help adults and older people to have greater choice and control over how their care needs are met. This could be people who pay for their own support (self-funders) as well as those whose care and support is funded by the council.

Description of theme

The council is keen to stimulate and support the development of a range of locally based, small micro-providers, community schemes and social enterprises that can offer flexible and localised care and support (particularly home care) to residents.

For example:

Locally delivered home care – community schemes that support adults or older people with care and support needs. This could include developing a local care micro-enterprise or social enterprise that provides care and support at home, including delivering personal care.

Additional information for these themes:

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Adult Social Care Market Position Statement

A selection of datasets on Adult Social Care Provision

Cambridgeshire County Council – adult social care pages

Adult social care costings guidance

Children and Young People
Key client groups supported:

We are seeking applications for projects that support children, young people, and their families, with a specific focus on the following key client groups:

  • Children and young people with disabilities (learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities, or other additional needs), sensory impairments, or mental health needs
  • Young Carers
  • Children and young people who are looked after, may enter the care system, or are care leavers
  • Children at risk of child criminal exploitation or other significant harm
  • Young people who are at risk of exclusion or are excluded from mainstream education
  • Young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET)
  • Families experiencing domestic abuse

The Council is most interested in bids that are youth and community led. We also require applicants to clearly present a rationale and evidence of need for their project, potential project outcomes and a longer-term project sustainability plan.

Three Key Themes:

1) Building connections between the voluntary sector and county council services

In Cambridgeshire public services are embracing a Think Communities approach. This means that we value and acknowledge the contribution made and the pace at which the voluntary sector and communities can respond to meet the evolving needs of children, young people, and their families.  At its heart, the Think Communities approach is a system wide approach in which partners listen, engage, and align with communities and with each other, to deliver public service and support community-led activity at the fore.

This theme is about developing capacity in the voluntary and community sector to meet and adapt to the changing needs and issues as they arise for children, young people, and their families in communities across Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire is a diverse county which requires us to adapt and be flexible in our response to issues as they arise.  The picture is different across communities and districts and requires collaboration that takes a broader view of the complexities and takes a strengths-based approach to working with communities to co-produce services with children, young people, and families.  This embraces the expertise of the community and of all partners involved and enables voluntary and community organisations to connect with the statutory sector more easily and influence practice and commissioning.  Working in this way also enables the statutory sector to connect with voluntary and community sector providers to provide an appropriate support package for a family, which may avoid the family requiring support from statutory services at all.

Activities may include: training and supporting Voluntary and Community organisations to work with statutory services, initiatives that build relationships and networks between local providers, and initiatives that include the voice of children, young people, and service users in co-designing and informing services.

2) Supporting communities to enable positive outcomes and progression for vulnerable children and young people 

The Council is keen to see the development of new, or expansion/development of existing provisions which support vulnerable children, young people, and families in high needs communities.  Activities may include: the expansion/development of group-based youth work, positive or diversionary activities for young people, work with individuals and groups to address self-esteem and confidence building, mentoring, coaching, befriending or peer learning, and activities to promote positive friendships and relationships, coping with stress or difficult family circumstances.

Locally led positive activities for young people where they can develop a trusting relationship and access timely and accurate information, advice, guidance, and support, can boost engagement in education, support young people to stay safe, and positively develop their emotional health and wellbeing and the skills required for a successful transition to adulthood. Diversionary activities and informal education can enable young people to stay safe, reduce risk taking behaviours and protect them from various forms of exploitation.

The Council is interested in bids that create, sustain, or develop regular youth provision that offers a safe place for young people to go on a regular basis and focuses on areas of known deprivation.  All bids for youth work must consider how workers and volunteers will be trained and supported to connect and work in partnership with statutory services which may need to be or are involved with the targeted young people or their families.  Please see our new guidance on applying to match fund a part-time Community Youth Worker.

Bids should consider the needs of the whole family to make lasting and sustainable change.  Project plans should, where possible, be co-produced by children, young people, and their families. Any successful bidders must also consider how to expand or develop use of volunteers as part of the provision to support ongoing sustainability.

3) Community based family support activities that meet a significant need or address an issue that presents significant risk

The Council is keen to see the development of new, or expansion of existing provisions which provide community-based family support activities via regular groups or projects for families in communities where needs are high or where there are significant presenting issues. Activities may include support to families experiencing difficulties with children’s behaviour, domestic abuse, housing issues, finance, social isolation, or community issues.  Such activities will be able to respond in a timely, creative, and engaging manner and by doing so may prevent needs and issues from escalating and needing more costly interventions from a statutory provider where there might also be a waiting list or a demand for service that prevents a timely intervention.

The Council is particularly interested in bids which will take the opportunity to support people positively with healthy lifestyles and preparation for adulthood and employment.  We are keen for projects to address issues such as rurality, social mobility, or poverty alleviation, and support specific vulnerable groups including Carers and Young Carers, Care Leavers, SEND and young people/young adults with additional needs and those who are NEET/face unemployment/economic challenges post-Covid.

Other funding and support

If your community group has a project idea that meets a need or issue that has arisen locally but that doesn’t quite fit the above, you can access support from the Youth in Communities Team with governance, training, and fundraising.  You might also be eligible for a Community Reach Fund Grant (the CRF awards grants of up to £1000 to kick start community led projects).  For further information please contact to be put in touch with your local Youth and Community Coordinator.

Assessment Criteria

The Cultivate Cambs application form invites applicants to provide a detailed description of their project proposal and to demonstrate how their project meets fund priorities and criteria.
Key Grant Application Questions
  1. What are the main outcomes your project will aim to deliver and how will your project do this? How do you intend to measure these outcomes? (Outcomes are the changes or difference your project will make to address identified needs)
  2. Who are the direct beneficiaries of your project and which council support services are they likely to need now or in future?
  3. How might your project reduce your beneficiaries’ need for council services?
  4. How will your project help to build community capacity and support people and communities to be more resilient?
  5. Why are you confident that your project and targets are credible and deliverable? Please refer to other work you have done.
  6. Are you already delivering all or part of the project you propose? If you are already delivering this project, explain what you will do differently for this project proposal (e.g. different beneficiaries, different approach or in a different location).
  7. How do you intend to continue delivering your project when this grant funding ends? Or is this a one-off project?
  8. Tell us how your project or organisation will take action to combat climate change. For example, you could encourage or enable your staff, volunteers, or beneficiaries to make use of sustainable travel options (walk, cycle, use public transport or share lifts) or reduce waste. Tell us if you have an Environmental Policy or would like support to develop one. Guidance for answering this question is available here.
Click on the headings below to find out more.
Is my group eligible to apply?

The Cultivate Cambs fund is open to applications from not-for-profit organisations, including:

  • voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations, based in and outside of Cambridgeshire
  • public sector bodies in Cambridgeshire, including District, Town, and Parish Councils (excluding Cambridgeshire County Council)

The fund is not open to individuals or for-profit businesses.

All projects must benefit the residents of Cambridgeshire. Projects serving the residents of the Peterborough City Council local authority area are not eligible for funding.

Please note that unincorporated associations must be legally registered to apply for a grant if their income is above £5,000 or if the grant applied for will take their income over £5,000.

Joint applications are encouraged but you will need to identify the lead partner. Only one grant recipient can be identified.

Please note that the Fund does not offer continuation funding to existing projects whose sources of funding are ending. The Fund is for projects which are new or have new elements. Existing projects or programmes that wish to expand into new areas or work in new ways with new groups of people, are welcome to apply.

Is my project eligible?

Your project must align with fund priorities and meet the following key fund criteria:

  • Reduce pressure on council services and/or offer direct savings for the council
  • Be either new or build on an existing project in a new location or with new beneficiaries. The fund does not offer continuation funding for existing projects whose sources of funding are ending
  • Benefit residents of Cambridgeshire (excluding people residing in the Peterborough City Council local authority boundary). Grant awards cannot be used to offer direct support to non-county residents.

Grant funding may be used as a match for another funding bid provided the outcomes for Cambridgeshire County Council are clearly defined and costed. You would need to flag this up in the Application Form.

Capital and revenue expenditure are eligible.

We do not fund costs to cover the following:

  • Purchase of land or buildings
  • Debts and debt service charges (interest)
  • Provisions for losses or potential future liabilities
  • Currency exchange losses
  • Projects promoting political activities
  • Projects promoting religious beliefs or activities
  • Projects lobbying for a particular cause or action

Deficit or retrospective funding (i.e. grants for activities which have already taken place)

How can I apply?

We strongly encourage all applicants to seek advice on their project proposals prior to submission. Pre-application advice appointments are offered for each funding round and can be booked on the link in the righthand column.

The online Cultivate Cambs grant application is accessed and submitted via this webpage (see righthand column).

Only one application should be submitted for each funding round. The application process takes approximately three months from application deadline to confirmation of award.

A grants panel considers all applications. The panel’s recommendations then go to a county council member committee for final decision.

Grants under £10,000 are usually made in a single upfront payment on receipt of the signed grant offer agreement. Grants of £10,001 to £15,000 are usually paid in two equal instalments, one upfront and one at the midway point.

All applicants are required to submit the following documents with their application form:

  • A signed copy of your organisation’s set of rules / terms of reference / constitution
  • Bank paying in slip
  • Your Equality Policy
  • Your Safeguarding Policy (children and/or adults)
  • Your organisation’s accounts for the past two financial years
  • Names and addresses of three independent management committee members, with at least two cheque signatories identified.

You may also be requested to provide:

  • Three different quotes for any capital items over £500
  • Evidence of a long-term lease if you are applying for funding towards a building or land that your organisation does not own.
  • If you are a Community Interest Company, we require your CIC 36 form (if you have registered as a CIC in the last 12 months), or your latest CIC 34 Annual Report (if you have been registered as a CIC for over 12 months)

If you have received a grant from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation in the last two years, you do not need to resubmit your documents unless there have been significant changes in your organisation. Further details may be found in step 2 of the ‘How to apply’ Timetable.

Can I request more than 1 year of funding?

You can apply for up to two years of project funding. The maximum amount of funding you can apply for is £15,000.

How will my grant be monitored?

All grant recipients will be required to complete initial project monitoring forms with the support of a County Council officer (referred to as a ‘Service Lead’).  You will also be required to submit twice-yearly monitoring reports for the duration of your project.

How can I get support to develop my project proposal?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend a pre-application advice session where you will receive support and guidance on developing your project proposal. Appointments are available in advance of each application deadline. Book your appointment using the link in the righthand column.

The resources, local datasets and reports available on Cambridgeshire Insight can also help you to prepare your application and ensure its supported by statistical data and useful information.

Cambridgeshire Insight offers

Other useful sources of data and information include:

Public Health England Fingertips for a range of local public health profiles. These profiles are a rich source of indicators across a range of health and wellbeing themes.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s  Finance and Budget webpages give you an overview of where the council’s budget is spent. Finance Monitoring Reports are provided by services and give details on their financial position and performance levels achieved for each month. These reports can help applicants to understand the current spend on existing services.

Cambridgeshire County Council Business Plan

What projects have been funded?
Information about funded projects is in the document below. These include projects funded by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Innovation Fund (2017) and Innovate and Cultivate Fund (2017-2022).

Previously Funded Projects

Download Previous Projects Here

Who can apply?
Not-for-profit organisations

Maximum grant

Eligible area
Cambridgeshire (excluding Peterborough)


No further funding rounds are currently planned