Synergi’s First Grants Programme
In January 2023, we opened our Small Grants Fund, welcoming applications from groups led by and for Black and People of Colour with lived experience of mental ill health, distress and/or trauma. Groups could apply for £2,000-£3,000 to take action on mental health and racial justice.
We wanted the funding to reach those communities experiencing the most extreme forms of discrimination or injustice, including state violence. This included, for example, the hostile environment, anti-trans legislation or policies, or Prevent. We wanted this funding to help groups build community, and to resist and challenge. We also want to provide some counter to the historic underfunding of this work.
We also called for applications from those with a yearly project income of under £25,000; with non-traditional structures (including those that are unregistered) as these organisations can struggle to attract funding.
We hoped to fund groups whose work engages with an abolitionist framework and explained some examples of the actions we hoped to fund that included:
Collective care. This might look like providing food and essentials parcels, writing to incarcerated community members, creating opportunities for people to come together and support each other using shared experiences as in peer support groups, mutual aid, creative practices like dance or singing, or covering the costs of accessing therapy or other healing practices.
Campaigning and change-making. This could include protest, work to create change on a local or national level, sharing information and skills such as community organising training, or creating resources for members of your community to better advocate for themselves.
In March 2023, after receiving over 300 incredible applications, and the grants officers and panellists had some very difficult decisions to make. In the end we awarded 37 groups with £3,000 each, a total of £111,000!
We are very excited to be able to support grassroots community groups across the country that are doing critical work in resisting the securitisation of mental health and building community-based alternatives.
57% of funding went to unregistered grassroots groups and the average turnover reported by grantees in 21/22 was £7,683.
We are excited by all the incredible projects we have been able to fund and are now digging deeper into the learnings from our first grants process and dreaming up our next grants programme with a real focus on redistributing power.