The Smiles Fund By Walkers and Comic Relief

Application window opens

Wednesday 4th August 2021 at 10am BST

Application window closes

Thursday 16th September 2021 at 11am BST

The deadline for this fund has been extended from 15th to 16th September to compensate for the time lost due to our application portal being temporarily unavailable.

Funding countries

United Kingdom only

Funding available

Funding is available for a minimum of 18 months to a maximum of 30 months.

We will fund investments from £100,000-£300,000

We expect to fund 8-12 proposals overall.

APPLICATIONS CLOSED

You can see a Word version of the application form here(opens in new window) but please ensure you make your application using the link above.

The Opportunity

We are really pleased to be working with Walkers on The Smiles Fund. We are seeking proposals from organisations who share our belief that the arts and comedy can help start conversations and support positive outcomes for people’s mental wellbeing. [1] [2]

KEY READING

Please read our general eligibility criteria, our guidance on how much to apply for and take the eligibility quiz(opens in new window) to check that this fund is right for your organisation

Please also read the application guidance(opens in new window) and Frequently Asked Questions(opens in new window) for this fund if you proceed with an application. The FAQ document will be updated periodically following the Q&A sessions.

Please note that for this fund we have lowered the minimum annual income for eligible organisations to £75,000. This fund has a one-stage application process.

We invite all applicants to share feedback on our application process for this fund. You can do this by completing an Applicant Survey HERE(opens in new window). Our applicant survey will be open throughout the application window, and for a limited time after the deadline.

INTRODUCTION 

We believe that every person has the right to good mental wellbeing and support. We also believe in the power of humour and the potential for the arts and comedy to help bring about positive change for individuals and communities. We want to reduce the stigma and reinforce the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing, by supporting people to seek help at an early stage.

We want to support early intervention and community-based approaches which use participation in the arts and comedy to start conversations, promote positive social connections and help people build resilience to tackle life’s everyday challenges. We want to fund proposals which use the arts and comedy to have an intentional (rather than incidental) positive effect on outcomes for people’s mental wellbeing. Please note that this fund is for work with adults only (over 18).

The Smiles Fund by Walkers and Comic Relief is inviting proposals which use participation in the arts and comedy to challenge stigma and provide community-based support for people who are experiencing emerging symptoms of poor mental wellbeing at an early stage. Research during the Covid-19 pandemic shows that some groups have been the worst affected in terms of mental wellbeing and we are particularly keen to reach them as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. [2] [3] This includes, but is not limited to, people facing

  • discrimination and disadvantage 

  • prolonged uncertainty and unemployment 

  • emerging mental wellbeing challenges

  • loss and isolation 

Please note that this fund is for work with adults (over 18) only and we will not be able to support applications for work with anyone under the age of 18.

If you make an application to The Smiles Fund, please clearly outline in your proposal how you will use an arts or comedy based approach to specifically and deliberately reach people who are currently experiencing the effects of the issues listed above, as well as raise awareness of the emerging signs and challenge stigma associated with poor mental wellbeing. 

We are committed to ensuring that the work we fund is informed and developed by the people it seeks to reach as we’ve found that this approach is the most effective in tackling these challenges. To that end, all proposals should clearly demonstrate how they’ve been shaped by people with lived experience of the issues they are trying to address. 

As part of this fund, we intend to facilitate and prioritise learning opportunities between funded partners, and beyond. We want to design these opportunities in consultation with organisations who are involved with the fund, so more detail on this will follow as the timeline for the fund progresses.

We are happy to fund proposals which include a mixture of project delivery and core costs.

We know that demand for investment into mental wellbeing services is high, and therefore we expect to receive a high number of applications for this fund. Once you have read all the key documents at the top of this page, please think carefully about whether this fund is well suited to the work your organisation does and that you meet the specific requirement of adopting an arts or comedy based approach. We expect to only fund 8-12 proposals in total. 

As we expect demand to exceed the funds available, we will use the following additional criteria to help us to prioritise which proposals to fund:

  • Priority will be given to proposals reaching people with prolonged or ongoing experience of the issues outlined above. 

  • Priority will be given to proposals offering opportunities to actively participate in creative activities rather than just watching or visiting.  

  • Priority will be given to organisations or partnerships with previous experience of using the arts and comedy in the context of social change (although you can be testing new work developed in response to learning from previous work).

  • Priority will be given to ensure we fund a geographical spread of projects across the UK.

  • Priority will be given to proposals which include plans to share learning with other organisations who could benefit or contribute to research in this area. This might be through webinars, digital resources or in person events (government restrictions permitting). 

  • Priority will be given to ensure we fund a balance of comedy based and arts-based projects.

  • Priority will be given to work shaped by people with lived experience of the issues the work is trying to address

[1] World Health Organisation ‘What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review.’(opens in new window)

[2] All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing July 2017’(opens in new window)

[3] Mental Health Foundation ‘Mental Health in the Covid-19 Pandemic: recommendations for prevention’(opens in new window) 

[4] Centre for Mental Health ‘Covid-19 and the nation’s mental health - Forecasting needs and risks in the UK: May 2021’(opens in new window)

HOW TO APPLY

This is a one stage application process. To make an application please complete and submit an application form using the link at the top of this page. Please note that applications received after the closing date of 11am on Thursday 16th September 2021 will not be considered. 

If your submission has been successful, you will receive an automated confirmation email from our grant management system which gives you a 7-digit Proposal ID – please keep a record of this number. If you do not receive this confirmation or you experience any technical issues with our application portal, please get in touch with fundinginfo@comicrelief.com(opens in new window). If technical issues with the application portal are preventing you from submitting your application before the deadline, please get in touch as soon as possible.

All proposals will be shortlisted by Comic Relief staff to determine which organisations will be invited to the next stage. The next stage will consist of an assessment meeting held in person or remotely depending on current guidelines. 

We will work with people with lived experience of the issues we are trying to tackle as well as people with expertise in the arts, comedy and wellbeing to make recommendations to Comic Relief’s Social Impact Committee.

KEY DOCUMENTS REQUIRED TO APPLY

  • Latest copy of your annual accounts

  • A copy of your latest management accounts

  • Safeguarding policy

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion policy

  • Memorandum & Articles of Association

Q&A SESSIONS

We will be hosting 3 Zoom Q&A sessions to answer any questions you have about the fund. We strongly recommend you read the documents in the key reading section at the top of this page in advance of booking. If you still have an unanswered question, please book using the links below, outlining your question(s) when you register. 

Zoom Session 1(opens in new window) – Wednesday 11th August, 11am-12pm 

Zoom Session 2(opens in new window) – Thursday 19th August, 10am-11am

Zoom Session 3(opens in new window) – Wednesday 25th August, 2.30pm-3.30pm 

Next steps

For you to do:

1. Read the eligibility guidance, the guidance on how much to apply for and take the eligibility quiz(opens in new window). Please note that for this fund we have lowered the minimum income threshold to £75,000.

2. Check out the key reading for this call at the top of this page.

3. Book into a Zoom Q&A session via the links above if you have questions about the fund which have not already been answered in the FAQ document.

4. Submit your proposal via the link above by 11am on Thursday 16th September. Please note that applications received after this time will not be considered.

For us to do:

5. You will be contacted as soon as your application has been shortlisted to let you know if your organisation has been invited to the next stage. We expect this to be by the end of October 2021.

6. If your organisation is invited to the next stage, you will be contacted to arrange the assessment meeting.

7. All assessed proposals will be considered at a decision-making panel in December.

8. Final decisions will be made by Comic Relief’s Social Impact Committee in January 2022.

9. We will let you know the outcome of the decision no more than 7 days after the SIC meeting.

We invite all applicants to share feedback on our application process for this fund. You can do this by completing an Applicant Survey HERE(opens in new window). Our applicant survey will be open throughout the application window, and for a limited time after the deadline.