Connecting, grant news and self care at the first Friends of Two Ridings Drop-In

With people from Wearside and Wensleydale dialling in, and a fair share from York, the first Friends of Two Ridings Drop-In was a joyous and honest hour.

Facilitated compassionately by Ali and co-hosted by ‘know-all-about-grants’ Katherine, the Drop-In was a great space to share ideas, ask questions, get to know one another along with a bit of self care! Yes, it really was like that!

Checking in

At the Welcome we went through what the session was about and checked in. We agreed the relational way we aimed to be in the space and discussed what everyone attending hoped to get out it.


Overwhelmingly people wanted to connect with both the Two Ridings team and other groups in the region. Indeed by the end of the session, two of the North Yorkshire groups were discussing collaborating. People were also interested in funding, the grant process and what new opportunities were coming up.

Grant opportunities

After check in, Katherine, one of our friendly Grants Coordinators, gave a comprehensive update on current grants available, answering questions as she went along, establishing some of the guidance on how to apply.

All our open grants are in one place, searchable by region, and each one has specific guidance notes and the capability to apply online,  but having a Grants specialist to answer specific queries in a safe and open space was really well received.

Support with grant applications

A Community Development Officer from Community First Yorkshire came to the Drop-In and he explained that their Development Officers helped organisations throughout North Yorkshire with grant searches, checking applications and supporting them with crucial advice like what to include and what to leave out. It was great to have him along and people can get in touch directly with their team at [email protected]

Pertinent questions were answered, like: ‘We have been successful in previous rounds, but staff sickness and turnover has changed – can we reapply for future rounds?’

The answer was:

  • ‘Yes, stay open and honest, share what’s happening and we can consider future applications.  This has been an immensely tough 2 years and we all realise our plans are not what has always happened.’

Another participant who worked with LGBTQ+ and refugee communities, told us they were based in York but often their beneficiaries were placed anywhere in the North. They asked: ‘Can we have more flexibility where we spend out funding?’

The answer was:

  • It depends on the fund. We are as flexible as we can be, but Two Ridings are often restricted to/focussed on working with beneficiaries in our region.  Two Ridings work with other Community Foundations across the UK who could fund work with people outside of our region.  To establish the right organisation, visit the UKCF website.

What is the optimal funding application window…how long should be available to apply for funding? 

We went on to do a session where Katherine explained that Two Ridings aim to have funding application windows open for 12 weeks. We were considering this time frame, whether it was the right length of time or not,  and seeking input from the people present.

The response was mixed and very much depended on the size and type of the grant being sought. Sometimes 12 weeks felt like a very long time when finance is pressing, other grants are being applied for and many factors can change in that period – not least – Can we survive? That said, for a new, more complex fund, it takes time to liaise with trustees and partner organisations, so 12 weeks were very much needed. Time of year should also be taken into account – the summer and Christmas period, when everything almost shuts down, shouldn’t have short deadlines.

Anyone else wanting to have their say on this, don’t hesitate to contact our Grants team.

Issues in our communities right now 

At the Open Floor discussion, where all attendees were offered the opportunities to start a discussion on what was affecting them at the moment, we heard that ‘a lot of funding out there is so targeted, we are struggling to survive’. From tight geographical boundaries, to supporting only specific issues as well as bigger funders moving away from rural community funding,  groups in rural areas are struggling.  We suggested that we need conversations with funders so they were able to understand this issue to avoid tipping some communities into isolation.

Mental health support needs are at an all-time high, a mixture of community needs and strain on statutory services is having knock-on effects

Staff turnover is a huge issue in the voluntary sector at the moment, causing added pressures on teams, effecting how funded activity can be delivered and support to our communities stretched further.  Compassion, space and understanding is required.

Self care

We closed the session with a check out, acknowledging that January is a difficult month, and this year it is taking some extra energy to get us through.  At these times often others have very little to give, so we shared how we could be kind to ourselves today. 

From making a pot of tea, allowing ourselves to turn up the radiator to going for a walk. We also had more poignant suggestions of ‘quietening my inner critic’ and ‘pacing myself’ which others from the group borrowed.

It was a very worthwhile and informative start to the week and we hope to see more of your next time.


See you next month

The next Drop-In will be on Monday 7th February between 10am and 11am. We would love to see you there.

Book online directly Online Event Page | Eventbrite

If you have any issues booking online, please contact us on 01904 929500.

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