The purpose of the EPIC (Empowering People in Communities) Grant Programme is to enable local voluntary and community organisations to access grants, to support the following broad outcomes:

  • Increased resilience within communities
  • Increased self reliance
  • Improved and stronger relationships within the community
  • Residents are involved in the design and delivery of activities that make a positive change in their communities
  • Asset and strengths based – building on what exists in communities

Extensive community conversations have helped to shape the elements of this programme.  EPIC is a 3 year grant programme aimed at improving the wellbeing of communities and tackling isolation and loneliness by building stronger relationships and building on what exists within communities. This could include making the most of community spaces, improving access to transport and using people’s skills, talents and experience.

Grants up to £40,000 will be available, for projects that are aimed at people of all ages who feel lonely or isolated and projects that aim to improve the wellbeing of communities.

Applicants can apply for 2 different levels of funding;

  • under £10,000
  • £10,001 to £40,000

Application and assessment dates will be published separately on an ongoing basis, but you can contact us to start a conversation about your project ideas at any time (actually, the earlier the better) – you can email: grants@scvo.info or contact Liz  on 07923 259821 / liz@scvo.info (or Stuart on 07703 823226 / stuart@scvo.info).

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Round 4 – Summer 2021


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Round 3 – Summer 2020

Age UK Sandwell is an independent local charity working in the local community to help older people for over 30 years. They have dedicated staff and volunteers helping them to deliver services and activities for older people in Sandwell.

AGE UK have created a digital platform with a series of programmes and services that includes – Advice and guidance for older people to access essential services and support needs including access to health assessments and appointments. Clubs and classes to promote better mental and physical wellbeing and social engagement (including healthy eating and cooking, diet, exercise activities, culture and leisure activities) Information sessions including support around positive mental health, anxiety, stress and wellbeing (including meditation, mindfulness) Alongside the platform we will be developing clear and simple access guides and providing tablets and dongles to enable the greatest and easiest accessibility to encourage engagement and participation.

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Changing our Lives – Working with disabled people and people with lived experience of mental health difficulties of all ages across Sandwell.

Changing our lives have created a virtual Speakeasy for people with learning disabilities, autistic people and their families, using online social media platforms (Zoom, Messenger, Instagram). Working with Mike McGrother, https://soundcloud.com/mikemcgrother a community singer songwriter and story teller with experience of running Speakeasies (including for people who don’t use words) to gather people’s stories which will then be turned into songs. People may tell their story of lockdown or simply their life or a special interest. They will facilitate 16 Speakeasies throughout the year.

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EWA – European’s Welfare Association is a non-for profit community interest organisation focused on supporting migrants in areas of education, welfare, art and culture.

EWA’s project is a result of a long lasting collaboration between two organisations operating in Sandwell: EWA CIC and EMCONET and continuous conversations with their beneficiaries who are predominantly Polish and Russian speaking nationals living in Sandwell about their struggles, now further deepened by Covid. They will provide them with an interactive platform to help identify their problems, come up with tangible solutions and take the ownership of their decisions, subsequently improving their life on multiple levels (including their well-being, reducing sense of isolation, increase their physical activity.

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SDCA – Sandwell Deaf Community Association is a charity led by deaf people and one that delivers specialist services across Sandwell/Black Country to deaf, deafened, hard of hearing people and people with a dual sensory loss.

The project will support the development of the Youth Services and increase our provision to this isolated group of young people. The funding will allow them them to increase teur provision to two sessions per week. They will hold sessions at their centre  to include physical activity, cooking, healthy eating, technology, arts, drama plus  more. There would also be provision for activities and trips outside of the centre to broaden the horizons of deaf youngsters.

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U Island is a Russian speaking organisation whose activities are carried on for the benefit of children and families from various cultural, ethnic and religious background. In particular, U Island works with Eastern European communities living in the United Kingdom and various organisations that actively work within those communities in order to support integration processes and tackle educational, financial and social inequalities.

Their project will support the development of activity boxes. Each box will contain: Gardening (bag of compost, plant pots, vegetable seeds, flower seeds, garden gloves, gardening tool set); Cooking (2 cake / sweet treat recipes with all required ingredients; Relaxation (sand craft set or painting set); Knitting set (wool and instructions) or Bird feeding (build your own); Leaflet in community language with contact details of essential local services (including domestic abuse help line); Leaflet in community language with instructions how to join on-line sessions. Alongside this there will be online sessions based on activity boxes, as well as communication groups (coffee & chat) and experience sharing groups. All participants will have an opportunity to lead on a session of their choice. Community champions will ensure that all participants are able to connect to the session and will also run a general Q&A sessions to cover other areas of life in current circumstances, and possible needs of participants.

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4 Community Trust supports the advancement of children and children with special educational needs and their parents in Sandwell.

They will develop a virtual community/peer support network that enables parents/guardians and carers to take ownership of a weekly Virtual ‘Coffee’ Meeting that provides peer-to-peer emotional well-being support and social mobilisation, in particularly through times of challenges/crisis. The sessions will be conducted virtually to adapt to the rapid changes/needs of distant intervention and to build a resilient, asset-based community network. The EPIC project will support parent/guardians and carers along with the local community across Sandwell, in particular for those who care for a child with special educational needs and/or disabilities through weekly peer-to-peer support that is facilitated/supported by the local community, ensuring local parents and residents have access to the required platforms, resources and support.

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Holy Trinity Church offers support, information and advice to local residents as well as running a successful Food Bank

The project will establish a Debt Advice Centre in Old Hill as a satellite of Life Centre Debt Advice (LCDA) in Stourbridge which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and runs in association with Community Money Advice (CMA)) The Debt Advice Centre will provide practical help, free of charge, to those with financial concerns by debt and money management advice, advocacy services, training, and befriending. This will be run by a new part-time employed post as the lead Debt Adviser together with trained volunteers in Adviser and Support Worker roles. The project will operate alongside our long-established weekdays “Open Door” drop-in centre which during 2019 saw members of the community calling in to meet up or seek help which included referrals to other agencies.

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Round 2 – Autumn 2019

Sandwell African Caribbean Mental Health Foundation (SACMHF) is a charity which aims to support African and Caribbean people, along with their families who are affected by or recovering from mental ill health.

Recognising that there are communication barriers within the community we support, our new Tech Connect Group aims to connect people to improve basic computer, mobile phone apps knowledge, and social media skills to proficiently use SKYPE, WhatsApp, Face-Time Video Calling and the use of Social Media Platforms.  The group will build and sustain healthy relationships, and peers will support each other to become socially connected to inland and abroad peers, friends, and family members.

Socialising and connecting over food is integral to ethnic communities and our new luncheon club will support this tradition. A monthly, accessible luncheon club will be established which will be user led and will help to bring people together to foster peer support. . People from other communities are invited to participate and be involved in participating in traditional Caribbean cooking for all abilities.

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SinglePoint offers a range of community and family services including stay and play’s, family crafts, employability courses, nutrition classes, relaxation therapy sessions and training courses.

Community Resilience Champions (CRC) is an initiative that has organically developed as a result of the work of the Single Point Project (SPP) over 7 years in consultation with schools and families. SPP uses a holistic approach that deals with issues pupils and their family may experience i.e. domestic abuse, family breakdown, financial hardship, addiction in the family which impairs pupil attainment. CRC celebrates the experience, strengths, skills and knowledge of children and parents as recognised assets in our community. Adopting “learning by doing” opportunities, we are building capabilities, confidence and resilience in our community. The wealth of experience we can harness via the CRC initiative to help others in a supportive environment is invaluable.

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Open Heaven mission is to reach out to all the people of all ages and backgrounds.

Open Hands is a volunteer led project to support families and older people with specific needs.To include shopping for the elderly and winter buddy scheme supporting older residents with regular help with tasks such as shopping, small maintenance and regular contact.

Open Heaven will support a family community garden at the church as a space to grow vegetables and crops aiming to reduce isolation within the community and bring the older generation and youth together to grow and form friendships.

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Black Country Touring brings some of the best professional touring theatre and dance from the UK and beyond to the local communities of the Black Country (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton). We work with local people in the Black Country to programme this work into places where the local community can get to see it – these might be a school, community centre, the local library or art gallery.

Black Country Touring supports local volunteers and venues to programme arts and culture on their doorstep. We empower local people and provide the guidance and resources they need to make exciting events happen in their community. The Community Cinema (CC) project addresses the lack of cinemas and opportunities for people to see high quality film, by making the most of community centres, libraries and places of worship. Working with 4 venues in Sandwell from Spring 2020 – Winter 2021, to co-design cinema clubs with their volunteers (new & existing) and local residents.

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African French Speaking Community Support (AFSCS) is a community group run by African Ethnic Minority and its is based in the heart of Smethwick. It provides a comprehensive range of advice and information on a wide range of issues in the community. The Trainers project aims to train young people to play musical instruments, and in turn the first cohort will start training other young people. The project will target local talented young people aged between 17 to 24 years-old and 1 qualified music tutor.

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Murray Hall is an established, proactive and pioneering charity, we work to build community resilience through providing high quality services and support to people with a variety of needs, by working with children, families, young people and adults to make a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, reducing isolation and loneliness, facilitate empowerment to ensure people get the right support and help individuals to maximize their potential. The project will work with people in the community to facilitate spaces for community conversations about death, dying and loss using national toolkits such as My Wishes, Will Making Week. Enable people to think about what matters to them and help them to pro-actively make plans by encouraging them to take control in order to build resilience, develop understanding and challenge misconceptions and deliver workshops to train people from other community organisations in order to develop local Compassionate Community champions alongside training volunteers to become Compassionate Communities Champions to run group conversations, attend awareness raising events and be champions in their community.


Round 1 – Spring 2019

Together Smethwick Food Hub seeks to move away from tackling food poverty through Crisis into a place of connectedness and community.  Smethwick CAN is primarily know for running Smethwick Foodbank and helping people in crisis and has provided over 300,000 meals since opening in January 2012.

We are aware through running the foodbank that Smethwick is a place of huge generosity and we want to harness this into a range of food projects building on our existing allotment, café and educational projects.

We will initial be setting up the Hub as a Community Benefit Society so that this project is not just run but by the community but is owned by it.  Our second step is to set up a Food Pantry as a community-building approach to accessing good, affordable food offering a move-on route for food bank users whilst also giving dignity and choice and opportunities to become involve.   We will expand our Community Café provision, assess under used community kitchens, support urban growing spaces and help develop new social enterprises related to food.

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‘Right up Your Street’ Project’

Over an 18 month period, in a partnership of Soho Victoria Friends & Neighbours CIC & St Albans Community Association, a Community Coordinator and Outreach Worker will be working on an innovative project in Smethwick to help residents take forward issues and develop skills to make changes they want in their communities. This starts from the basis that if residents are facilitated to come together and look at changes they want to see, and then, with practical support, they lead the change process to benefit individuals, groups & neighbourhoods. Toolkits will be produced, which are a set of practical everyday life resources, with the community that can be used by others to improve their lives & build community resilience. The toolkits and training packages will be produced and marketed to share with other community groups and residents.

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Friends of Dartmouth Park – over the last two years, the Friends Group has started a project to return angling to the pools in the Park (which haven’t been fished for the last ten years) and pass on fishing skills to young, and disabled people. Working with the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency, the Friends are in the process of training seven people to be fishing coaches and having the pools surveyed and re-stocked.

The project has identified a number of experienced fishermen who will form the basis of the first volunteer coaching cohort – helping them to develop the necessary skills to be able to pass on their angling knowledge and passion – as well as younger individuals seeking to develop their skills in this way. As well as the aspect of fishing, the project will help to address some of the issues around social isolation for both volunteers and participants – bringing them together around the shared passion of fishing.

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Great Bridge Community Forum – EPIC funding sees the development of the Forum’s Farley Allotment Project; developing young people’s knowledge around growing their own produce and encouraging interaction with older members of the community – working together to develop the available land into a community garden.

Starting with a cohort of ‘mature’ volunteers (with a wealth of gardening skills and knowledge that they want to share/pass on the next generations), the programme seeks to develop wider links with the community – schools, public health, community policing – to generate engaged participants, but also includes an element of volunteer development – supporting those with the skills and knowledge to become future programme mentors, thereby contributing to the ongoing sustainability of the project.

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MotherShip is a community arts company that connects communities through culture and creativity.

PLAYgroup is their flagship project that builds relationships between newly arrived mothers and local mothers and their children.  MARKit works with newly arrived women in Smethwick to develop creative and business skills in a more commercial context with a view to making saleable products and working towards building a social enterprise.