GRANTS of up to £40,000 a year are available to grass roots charities and voluntary groups helping to support wellbeing and mental health.

This is thanks to a new partnership between the Dorset Community Foundation, Community Action Network (CAN) and NHS Dorset.

The Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Fund, which is open for applications until March 1, and will offer grants of up to £80,000 over two years or £10,000 over one year.

These funds will be made eligible to groups running community based, non-clinical services and activities to adults age 18 and over that focus on wellbeing and mental health.

There will also be a second application round in the summer for grants up to £10,000.

Dorset Community Foundation grants manager Ellie Maguire said: “Dorset Health Care, Community Action Network and NHS Dorset are working together with partners across the system to develop a universal community wellbeing offer across Dorset, including wellbeing hub development.

“This funding programme aims to compliment these plans, by supporting activities delivered by the local voluntary sector that provide other community based wellbeing services with an early intervention approach.”

“Priority will be given to projects in communities experiencing health inequalities, including people living in areas of high deprivation and those who are socially excluded and experience multiple risk factors for poor health.” 

The fund complements the Access Wellbeing programme, a new way of delivering mental health and wellbeing services in Dorset, in partnership with the NHS, councils and the voluntary and community sector.

Mark Smith, Principal Programme Lead for NHS Dorset’s Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism team, said: “We are really excited to be able to work with the voluntary sector and Dorset Community Foundation to distribute significant funds to smaller, local organisations who operate in the heart of their communities.

“We know that lots of great work happens in local communities to support people’s mental health and wellbeing and that social inclusion and meaningful activity is so important in a person’s recovery from mental health challenges. This is a fantastic opportunity and we look forward to exciting projects and initiatives over the coming months.”

Groups applying for the one year funding must spend it within six month to a year, beginning within two months of the award.

The two year grants will be paid in two instalments with the second instalment only to be paid pending receipt of a satisfactory report at the end of year one.

Dorset Community Foundation chairman of trustees Tom Flood added: “I am delighted that the NHS has entrusted us with this fund and that it recognises our ability to not only design a funding programme that meets the funder’s goals but then deliver it efficiently and effectively.

“The projects that this new fund will enable will help communities look after their most vulnerable people and in doing so, we hope they will be taking some of the pressure off our already stretched NHS services.”

Karen Loftus, Chief Executive at Community Action Network said “CAN has been working hard to bring more investment into Dorset’s amazing charities and community groups, as we know what important work they can do.

Details information days, eligibility and how to apply for the grants can be found online at

Anyone with queries can contact Mrs Maguire by emailing or calling 07592 032666.