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Winning funding to grow play streets

If you’re an activator, local group or community organisation wanting to grow playing out where you live, funding can unlock barriers and help you do more.

On this page you can find:

Reasons for seeking funding

Maybe you started your playing out project as a resident in your own time, just as we began Playing Out in Bristol. Or maybe you’re a local community group that sees how this idea can support residents and make a real difference to lives.

Either way, the ‘resident-led’ ethos – people making change happen for themselves – is vital to the Playing Out movement and why it is growing. But the work to support this can have costs, and can also take a lot of time, especially once a council has a policy in place and residents are getting interested, and especially where communities face more disadvantage and challenges.

For example, if you’re starting out, you might need help to cover the cost of resources like leaflets and posters, or signage and other road closure ‘kit’; public engagement, like a coffee morning or workshop for residents; or help with your travel or child-care costs.

Perhaps you also feel inspired by how much more you could do if only you or your group had some investment and paid time. Perhaps you’re a creative practitioner, like one of our co-founders Amy Rose, and you have ideas for a more creative project to inspire playing out? Or, if you’re an experienced local community organisation, you might have a whole big, project around street play you want to bring to life.

Who can apply

There are occasionally small ‘spark’ funding pots that support individuals around good ideas with up to a few hundred pounds. Usually, however, in order to apply for funding you need to be part of a group or organisation which shares decision making and accountability.

There are a range of options for this from small and informal groups (like a park group) right through to being a registered charity. You can find good, helpful advice on this and other things on the My Community website.

Tips for applying

Make sure your work fits the funder. Most funding focusses on helping the people, situations and places that are in greatest need. Some funding focusses on a particular theme, such as safer streets, tackling isolation, or celebrating the Jubilee. Some on an approach, such as an activity being resident led. And some on innovation: trying out new and good ideas locally. Make sure you are clear which you are addressing and how.

Spell out the impact and benefits of play streets and playing out sessions. These fit with various funding aims including: children’s health and wellbeing; community connection, tackling isolation; Covid recovery; active travel and active citizenship. Many funders also increasingly want to support ‘bottom up’ activity and change.

Consider building your project around a specific date or event as this can sometimes help. For example, the Jubilee bank holiday community celebrations or the Commonwealth Games sports focus in 2022. See funds below.

Apply for funding in proportion to your track record. Winning support is basically persuading people to invest in you and your work to bring about positive impact or change. Most funders will want to know how safe their investment is. Think Dragon’s Den! So if you’ve not had funding before, start small, either with funding for materials, kit and expenses or for small bits of freelance work to deliver a specific project. You can then build up from there. If you’re a more experienced community organisation you will be able to apply for bigger projects and strands of work and more funding.

Plan out your work. However much funding you want to win or work you want to do, it all benefits from good planning: being clear about what you want to do, why this is needed, how you will do it, and what will be the results.

Possible funding sources

After many years of government and local authority funding cuts, and the huge impact of Covid, there is massive need and competition for all funding, including on behalf of basic services. However, there is still funding ‘out there’ for groups/projects that want to make positive change happen locally:

National Lottery Funding

Awards for All funding can provide £300 – £10,000 for a project within one year. The application process is simple and accessible, and you hear within 12 weeks. The blurb for 2023 includes ‘special events you might be celebrating’ – eg Coronation weekend or the 75th anniversary of Windrush – so play streets fit well with this. The National Lottery Community Fund website also lists other, bigger funding opportunities aimed at communities.

Sport England Funding

Sport England Small Grants Programme provides £300 – £15,000 for work helping communities to get more physically active. The language does not flag play or play streets, but the funding includes these. Sport England is increasingly seeing play as a key way children can be more physically active, and play streets as a way to help make  environments/ places more activity-friendly. They support us at Playing Out and are open to small project application from place based groups. If you are going to apply, let us know at Playing Out, as there are couple of ways we can help!

People’s Health Trust Funding

The People’s Health Trust is a  private charity distributing millions of pounds around the UK raised through Health Lotteries, focussing on local projects that connect communities and give people a sense of ownership and control of their lives. They give grants of £5K upwards.

Local Community Foundations

These independent organisations facilitate charitable giving in a city or area by connecting those who want to give money (individuals, businesses, Trusts and foundations) with projects that need funding. They also offer funding advice and support to local groups. It’s worth getting in touch with yours if you have one. This website lists most of them in the UK.

Local Authority

Your local council may still have small bits of funding linked to communities, health, children and young people, active travel or other areas that play streets fit with. These are likely to be targeted at communities who face more disadvantage and challenge, for example the Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2022, and may be channelled through existing community development workers. It’s good to find out and make contact, and there might also be other support available within your local authority, such as help with promotion or engagement.

Private Trusts and Foundations

There are thousands of small private Trusts and Foundations across the UK set up by families or businesses wanting to give money around specific interests and charitable purposes. Application is often by letter and can sometimes be for a small donation as opposed to a grant. There are on-line tools for searching these, often available for free through your local voluntary sector support organisation.

Funding for resident/community development groups

Parallel to funding cuts, there’s a big move in the UK to encourage and support resident led community development. There are public and private organisations offering small grants – upwards from a few hundred pounds – and other important support. For example, look at Big Local or Action Funder.

Other Sources of Funding

Other funding pots pop up around the UK, it’s just finding out about them! It’s best to tap into places that already gather these together. If you have a voluntary sector network organisation in your area, they will be able to help and give full access to Grants Online (eg Voscur in Bristol.) Otherwise there are good funding newsletters you can sign up to and Grants Online does a free one.

Support from Playing Out

We can provide your group with help and advice around the whole process of applying for funding for work relating to play streets and playing out sessions, or more widely with playing out, so do get in touch at the ideas stage.

Can we help?

Get in touch!