Group of community gardeners
Community Capacity grants

The Community Capacity programme, first launched in autumn 2022, is now open again for a second round of applications. We are pleased to have approximately £60,000 still available to distribute to grassroots organisations throughout Oxfordshire. 

Community Capacity grants aim to create the conditions for people to connect with others and thrive, promoting independence and self-reliance within local communities. Resourcing and retaining the community activity developed during the last two years ensures that new infrastructure, connections, and expertise forged through the pandemic are not lost. These grants are funded by Oxfordshire County Council, Adult Social Care, promoting the Oxfordshire Way.

Amounts available: £5,000-£10,000

Group annual income: Under £1,000,000

Type of cost: Ongoing running or project costs

Closing date: Now closed to applications

Allowing people to connect with others and thrive

Oxfordshire County Council, Adult Social Care has set aside funding for Community Capacity grants to create the conditions for people to connect with others and thrive, as part of their promoting independence and prevention programme across Oxfordshire. This initiative is in response to communities incorporating the approach developed within the Oxfordshire Way.

The Oxfordshire Way is about providing people with the ability to help themselves through personal, local and system support. Resourcing and retaining the community activity developed during the last two years ensures that new infrastructure, connections, and expertise forged through the pandemic are not lost.

This complements the council’s vision “to support the people of Oxfordshire to live well in their community, remaining fit and healthy for as long as possible: to build community resilience and increase independence”.

Preferred types of activity

Community capacity grants will prioritise activities that:

  • Support the wellbeing of the whole community to stay well, live independently and reduce individual isolation
  • Address inequalities and improve quality of life
  • Act sooner to promote increased mental health and physical activity to address preventable conditions and reduce demand on services
  • Are aligned to the Oxfordshire Way and NHS social prescribing and are neighbourhood-led
  • Fill gaps and therefore increase the options available to community connectors and social prescribers
  • Increase volunteering and opportunities for mutual aid
  • Provide social opportunities, including for people who may traditionally be excluded
  • Are innovative e.g. help mitigate digital exclusion; work across different generations; unlock value in use of space and place
  • Work with local businesses and partners for environmental, economic and social benefit, getting the best from collective resources.

We want to support projects that make it less likely for people to feel they need social services, because they are better connected to their community, have a good social network and circle of support. People will feel they have a contribution to make, can give something back and make a difference in their own community, so experience the positive benefits of exchange.

Also, projects or activities are encouraged that help people to gain their rightful access to universal services such as leisure, arts and entertainments, libraries, museums, arts and culture, education, health advice and screening.

Take a look at these recent case studies from previous recipients of a Community Capacity grant.

Example activities

Examples of the type of activity we are looking for:

  • Creative activities and opportunities – choirs, music, art, crafting, dance and movement groups or clubs with a social element
  • Practical, neighbourly support, including social impact volunteering and hyper-local activism (the type of groups which came to the fore in the early days of the pandemic)
  • Cookery clubs / community kitchens / ‘Big Lunches’ / hyper-local ‘meals-on-wheels’ schemes / lunch clubs to ensure people can get hot meals – with a social element
  • Transport / lifts  – support for people to get to things
  • Community gardens or allotments / gardening projects / men in sheds
  • Good gyms or green gyms
  • Bike repair clubs
  • Chatty benches
  • Time banks and skill share groups
  • Dementia cafes, reminiscence materials
  • Active travel groups
  • Toy libraries
  • Intergenerational projects
  • Digital inclusion projects
  • Employer volunteering team challenges
  • Mentoring and buddying schemes

What else could Oxfordshire come up with?

Project criteria
  • The beneficiaries must be people, not an individual. Not animals or the environment e.g. trees.
  • We will fund ongoing running costs, one-off events or a programme of events.
  • Number of people participating will be considered (proportional funding).
  • Project budget needs to be itemised, well costed, indicating where other funds have been secured if appropriate.
  • Project must be completed by 31st August 2023.
Preferred beneficaries

The areas listed below have been prioritised by Oxfordshire County Council as part of their response to the cost-of-living crisis and contain groups known to be often less well connected within their communities.

District Wards
Oxford City Northfield Brook

Rosehill and Iffley

Blackbird Leys


Barton and Sandhills


Cherwell Banbury Ruscote

Banbury Cross and Neithrop

Banbury Grimsbury and Hightown

Vale of White Horse Abingdon Caldecott
Group criteria
  • Income under £1,000,000.
  • Status: charity / CIO / registered company with charitable status / social enterprise / community group.
  • The online application form will require you to supply specified documentation showing evidence of good governance, as well as an appropriate referee. This includes bank account signatories, a bank statement, and audited accounts of most recent financial year. If the most recent year is not yet available, please submit management accounts or income/expenditure document.
  • Your organisation needs to have minimum one year of operation; if you have been constituted for less than one year but have been active for longer, please demonstrate this activity.
  • Reserves are expected to be a minimum of three months running costs, and if they are more than 12 months, it would be helpful to explain why.
  • You will be asked to provide a safeguarding policy as part of your application. We need this as there is a high likelihood that you are working with individuals who are at risk or vulnerable, or you are working in a way that puts you in a position of trust in the community. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and we would expect individual policies to be proportionate to the activities they undertake. In some cases, this is being aware of the appropriate safeguarding board contact numbers should you have a concern, or being aware of the safeguarding lead in a partner organisation to escalate to if a concern arose. For services doing lots of direct work with vulnerable people, we’d expect more.
Dates and timings for OCF Community Capacity Grants

Early applications are appreciated. 

Grants round opens Grants round closes
Tuesday 21st February 2023 Monday 13th March at noon


Your application will be reviewed by the OCF team, including independent assessors, before a Grants Panel Meeting with representatives from Oxfordshire County Council. Successful grants will be paid by the end of April.

Grants need to be spent by 31st August 2023, and grant monitoring must be completed within 12 months of application.

Please read our General Eligibility Criteria for all of our grants programmes, before starting your application.

Give your application the best chance by reading our Top Tips for grant applications.

How to apply

Now closed to applications.

Frequently asked questions

I have previously applied unsuccessfully for a Community Capacity grant. Can I apply again?

Previous applicants may apply again. We strongly recommend you revisit your proposal and submit a new application. We advise that you take a look at the Top Tips, General Eligibility Criteria and also ensure that your proposal closely fits the aims of this grant.

I was successful in my previous application for the Community Capacity grant. Can I apply for further funding?

You may apply again for further funding. However, this must be for different work or for activities in a different time period, for which you have not already received a Community Capacity grant.

How much can I apply for?

Your organisation can apply for a grant of between £5,000 and £10,000.

Why has the Community Capacity grant been reopened?

Following the awarding of all successful applications, we are now in a position to invite applications for the remaining £60,000 of grant funds. We recommend that anyone wishing to reapply for this grant review the Top Tips, General Eligibility Criteria and also ensure that your proposal closely fits the aims of this grant.

How can I improve my chances of success with my grant application?

We recommend that anyone wishing to apply for this grant closely review the Top Tips, General Eligibility Criteria and also ensure that your proposal closely fits the aims of this grant.

Alternative funding from OCVA and CFO - Connected Communities Fund

Find out more about this alternative funding for applications up to £5,000 from the Connected Communities Fund.

Grants overviewContact us