Supporting & Sustaining Specialism

We are inviting proposals from organisations in England led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women and providing frontline services responding to violence against women[1] and girls.

Applications open online

09:00am GMT on Tuesday 09th February 2021

Application Closes

12 GMT (noon) on Friday 05th March 2021

Eligible Countries


Eligible applicants

Income of between £75,000 and £10 million

Funding Available

Applications between £30,000 to £250,000 for 12-15 months of service delivery from July 2021 to September 2022.

Application Guidance can be found here(opens in new window).  Please read this guidance carefully before beginning your application.

Apply now(opens in new window)

As the deadline approaches for this fund we would like to remind you that our eligibility and guidance documents (linked below) are there to support you with any fund-specific questions you may have. If you experience any technical issues with our application portal, please get in touch with in new window). If technical issues are preventing you from submitting your application before the deadline (midday / 12pm on 5th March 2021), please get in touch as soon as possible.

Please note that your submitting an application does not impose an obligation on Comic Relief to award you with any funding. Any award of funding to an organisation is conditional on many factors including an organisation being successful at shortlisting and assessment stages, Comic Relief finalising its grant agreement with the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Comic Relief’s Social Impact Committee approving your proposal, your organisation passing our due diligence checks and entering into and meeting our conditions of funding.

The Opportunity

Comic Relief believes women and girls should have equal power and agency in decision-making at all levels.  One of the ways in which we have been working towards this vision since we began is through funding organisations working to end gender-based violence.

Find out more about gender justice here.

Violence against women and girls continues to be perpetrated at alarmingly high levels in the UK: 1 in 4[2] women will experience domestic abuse and 1 in 5[3] sexual assault during their lifetime.

Characteristics of violence against Black and minoritised women are often different and more complex: Sisters for Change (2017)[4] found rates of physical abuse to be 20% higher, sexual abuse 40% higher, and that it is ten times more likely that harms are posed by multiple perpetrators.

Help-seeking by women and girls who have faced these amplified levels of violence and abuse is often compounded by language barriers, no recourse to public funds and experiences of intersectional discrimination.

89% of Black and minoritised women survivors prefer receiving support from a specialist service, reflecting the high value of the unique knowledge, skills and insight contained within ‘by and for’ services.

In light of this, we are pleased to be continuing our partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to open a fund of £1.2 million to support organisations in England led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women providing frontline services responding to violence against women and girls.  The fund has been made available through a grant from the Tampon Tax Fund.


We want to make targeted investments in women’s organisations in England led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women, providing frontline services to respond to Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG)[5].

Defining ‘by and for’ women’s organisations

For this fund, we are using the following definition of ‘by and for’ women’s organisations.  To be eligible for this fund, your organisation must demonstrate alignment with all four elements:

  • Mission: You promote the rights of Black and minoritised women and girls as your primary mission.

  • Approach: Your approach reflects an understanding of the ways in which sexism and racism (and possibly also class discrimination, heterosexism, ableism) interact to minoritise women and girls. Your activities are likely to call on shared theoretical frameworks, such as Black Feminism.

  • Leadership: Your organisation is led and managed by Black and minoritised women: they must represent at least 75% of the senior management team and trustees.You recognise the value of lived experience of VAWG in the staff team and it is included across the organisation. 

  • Change: You are committed to structural change to achieve social justice.  Your work to affect structural change will be visible both within your own organisation and your external influencing.

If you are unsure about meeting this criteria, please do not hesitate to contact us (via our pre-application support: Q&A Zoom sessions) and we can discuss this further.

Proposals should respond to one or both of this programme’s aims:

  • Improve access to quality services and support for Black and minoritised women and girls who are experiencing, or at risk of, violence and abuse.

  • Improve understanding of the needs of and effective responses to violence and abuse against Black and minoritised women and girls.

We largely expect to fund established work meeting these aims: we know that securing funding to continue existing, vital work is a priority for the sector and the short lifespan of our available funding means that new projects would be unlikely to have sufficient time to start-up and take effect.

If you are developing digital products or tools to support you to realise these aims, comprising part or most of your proposal, we are interested to hear late-stage social tech proposals only.  As above, we are interested in proposals of more developed social tech work where impact can be realised during the short lifespan of our available funding.  If you have an earlier stage digital concept to improve your service delivery, and would like tailored funding and access to expert support to help you develop it, please consider applying to our current Tech for Good ‘Build’ opportunity, open until 12th February, on our Funding Opportunities page.

We’re interested in proposals that support women and girls from a range of different communities as well as proposals focused on supporting a specific community (e.g. the East African community, the Bengali community).

We are aware that there are gaps in funding to support:

  • Women seeking asylum

  • Migrant women

  • Women with no recourse to public funds

  • Disabled women[6]

  • Young women

  • Older women

Please be aware that as long as you can meet the other criteria this funding can be used to meet any area of need, including these, and we encourage proposals reaching women facing multiple barriers to social justice.

You can apply for funding as a single organisation and / or in partnership with others (see guidance(opens in new window) for details).

One way Comic Relief aims to contribute to social change is by supporting the future sustainability of the organisations we invest in. Under this fund, you are invited to use a portion of funding to invest in your organisational development/ capacity (see guidance(opens in new window) for details).

Funding Available

We expect to make up to approximately 15 investments of £30,000 to £250,000 in frontline service provision.

Funding can be used to cover specific project activities and core costs that can be evidenced as directly related to the proposed project.

Activities that respond to organisational sustainability[7] are encouraged: up to 25% of investments under £100,000 and 10% of investments over £100,000 can be proposed for this purpose.

Funded projects will need to start-up in July 2021 and run between 12-15 months. Final reports must be submitted to Comic Relief no later than October 2022.

Eligibility Criteria

Before beginning an application, please take the eligibility quiz, check our main eligibility criteria and consult the guidance(opens in new window) thoroughly.

For this fund, we have lowered the minimum annual income of eligible organisations to £75,000.

Key Dates

Applications open online: 09:00 am (GMT) on Tuesday 09th February 2021

Q&A Zoom sessions

General: Tuesday 16th February 10am (GMT) - FULL

Proposals reaching women facing multiple barriers: Tuesday 23rd February 1pm (GMT) - FULL

Proposals from partnerships: Thursday 25th February 11am (GMT) - FULL

General: Tuesday 02nd March 2pm (GMT) - Register HERE(opens in new window) 

Application closes: 12 GMT (noon) on Friday 05th March 2021

We will not accept late proposals and strongly urge that any questions are addressed early on, to make sure that proposals are completed and submitted in time. Applications can be made at any time once the application window is open.

Assessments: End of March to the beginning of May 2021

Decisions: End of June 2021

A note on Comic Relief’s use of language

Guided by and accountable to our Fund Reference Group, comprising Comic Relief staff and funded partners, we are using the following language:

Black and minoritised women and girls:  When we use the term Black for this fund, we use it politically to refer to all groups who have shared experiences of exposure to racism.  We also use it as a term that historically symbolises collective empowerment.

Yasmin Gunaratnum coined the term minoritised through her research in 2003 [8].  We use this term here because we align with its assertion that people do not exist as a minority and that minoritisation is the product of a system of interlocking oppressions (patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, heteronormativity, ableism) which actively minoritise at individual and systemic levels.

We recognise that this term has limitations: it does not capture the diversity within communities or individual identities.

We have not used the term BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) because we understand that it is reductive in that it does not reflect the socio-historical and political struggles against racial inequality, or inequalities as they are experienced by different groups.  However, we are aware that some racial categories, with which people identify, can be helpful and we will be guided by our individual applicants and funded partners on when and how to use these appropriately.

We recognise the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins. We also recognise the women in this Fund’s Reference Group, who generously share their knowledge and experience of intersectionality and whose expert contributions and guidance bring us closer to social justice.


[1] Women defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME)

[2] Office for National Statistics(opens in new window) (2019) Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2019

[3] Crime Survey for England and Wales to year end March 2017

[4] Unequal Regard, Unequal Protection, Sisters for Change, 2017

[5] “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life” (General Assembly Resolution 48/104 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993(opens in new window)).

[6] If you are an organisation reaching disabled women from Black and minoritised communities, but you do not meet all of the eligibility criteria for this fund, please get in touch with us as we may consider a proposal from you.

[7] Organisational sustainability: see applicant guidance(opens in new window) for further details

[8] Gunaratnum Y. Researching ‘race’ and ethnicity: methods, knowledge and power. London: Sage, 2003.