Rural Connections Grant

Applicants are invited to provide a service to develop and support local volunteers in rural and semirural settings who will provide information and advice for vulnerable adults in their communities, and facilitate connections with other services and assets (e.g. community amenities, buildings or people). Key to the successful delivery of this service will be reaching groups, both digitally and in person, that are at risk of experiencing loneliness and social isolation.

The service is expected to be preventative in nature, aiming to encourage and support people to stay healthy and independent in their homes and communities for as long as possible. This will help to reduce demand on social care and the health system and improve people’s quality of life. This is of particular importance in rural and semirural communities, including smaller market towns, where providing care is more challenging and costly and access to services more restricted.

The service is also expected to focus on making connections with other key local assets, in particular, Town and Parish Councils, other local support and social groups and HCC funded services which can also help to support the delivery of the service. There will also be an expectation to work with providers to facilitate the development of local solutions to respond to local area specific needs.

The service, through a network of volunteers, will provide information and advice to vulnerable adults about local support, linking to larger and more specialist information and advice agencies where relevant.

Adults Health and Care Strategy Document



Applicants need to demonstrate how they will work with existing rural connector volunteers and their approach to recruiting new volunteers in priority rural areas of need as identified by HCC. This will involve describing how they will support the continued development of this preventative service through best practice, training and development. As well as offer DBS Checks, policy and networking support volunteer retention will be critical to ensure that the service is able to expand to new localities where a need has been identified.

Service Users

Applicants need to demonstrate how they will support volunteers to promote and provide a service to vulnerable adults living in their communities. There can be challenges found in rural and semi-rural settings, such as lack of internet access and difficulties accessing support services, which make it more difficult for vulnerable people living in these areas. In addition, evidence has demonstrated that people who are socially isolated or lonely are at increased risk of ill-health and social care need. Having a lack of social relationships is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol. Groups of people who are more likely to be impacted by isolation and loneliness, and therefore should be considered as a priority include:

  • Those providing significant amounts of unpaid care
  • Those with mental health conditions including dementia
  • People with long-term conditions and disability
  • Those with Sensory Loss
  • Older people, those who have experienced the loss of a partner, friends or family
  • People that are unemployed (any age 18+)

Whilst the above is not an exhaustive list, it provides examples of those at risk of isolation.

Area of interest

During the term of the grant, the funded organisation is expected to recruit volunteers in rural areas and semirural areas (including market towns) in addition to supporting those communities where a service already exists. These new areas will be identified in association with Hampshire County Council (HCC) and based on factors such as positive engagement with local assets and volunteer recruitment potential in the area.

Engagement with relevant partners will assist in establishing a service that meets the needs of different groups at risk of social isolation and loneliness.

Solution required

We expect the funded organisation to:

  • recruit new and support existing volunteers. This includes:
    • training
    • equipment provision
    • DBS checks
    • support (i.e. volunteer meet-ups)
    • standardised service offering and standards for all volunteers
    • support in building relationships with local connector services and creation of referral routes for clients into these services
  • aid volunteers in making connections with their local assets - in particular town and parish councils, local doctor surgeries, local connector services, key players in the community and other relevant local services. In order to help with the following volunteer activities (including but not limited to):
    • seeking alternative funding sources
    • seeking additional support (e.g. office space)
    • needs identification in the local area
    • referrals of vulnerable adults needing assistance
    • promoting and raising awareness of Connect to Support Hampshire, including gathering feedback from local users
  • manage partnership with HCC in order to:
    • feed communications from HCC-funded services and work-streams to relevant volunteers - e.g. Connect to Support Hampshire, town and parish councils' work*, Live at Home scheme, etc
    • feedback relevant information gained by volunteers to HCC - e.g. to inform the wider place-based approach, community and micro-enterprise work etc
    • collate outcomes to help evaluate the service and delivery model

In line with the above, the volunteers would be expected to fulfil two key roles:

  • a source of information and advice for vulnerable adults in their communities
  • facilitating connections with other services and assets in the community; starting a conversation within the community to try and encourage community action to identify and support those in need

The Service is expected to demonstrate outcomes in line with the above, this is expected to include:

  • volunteer contact hours with those in the community needing support
  • volunteer connections and collaborative activity with other local assets and services
  • additional funding raised, in particular funding from local sources (applicants need to demonstrate that the grant will only fund the service up to 60%)
  • the preventative nature of the service - how it is helping to reduce social isolation and loneliness and enabling vulnerable adults to remain healthy and independent in their communities
  • how individuals accessing the service have had their needs met e.g. they feel more informed about, and connected to local support solutions
  • number of areas supported by the scheme (At least 50 after 9 months and 65 after 18 months)

The funded organisation is expected to work with HCC in order to shape evidencing the positive impacts and outcomes of the Service particularly around how a reduction in client reliance on HCC services can be evidenced.

*In particular it is expected that the Service works alongside the developing work with town and parish councils. This work is part of a wider Corporate drive, and seeks to support town and parish councils in developing local strategies to prevent social isolation and meet other local community needs. This project is in its early stages so it is expected that the funded organisation will work in partnership with us to see how the Service can support this work as it develops.

Period and amount

The term of the grant will be from award in March 2022 until the end of February 2023 for the period of 12 months. Grant applications for solutions at or below £20,000.

The amount of funding requested should reflect the extent to which the application meets part or all of the above criteria.

All applications must be received by 27 November 2021 at 10am using the application form and process.

The department reserves the right to share contact details of applicants with one another where proposals are complimentary.


We will consider organisations that have developed proposed solutions fulfilling our criteria, and that will comply with mutually agreed reporting and monitoring requirements. We expect voluntary and community organisations to be active and based in Hampshire. We are unable to award funding to commercial enterprises and/or individuals acting in their own capacity.

Any application must ensure:

  • proposed solutions support the priorities and objectives of Adults’ Health and Care
  • proposed solutions are for adults over 18 years living in Hampshire
  • every organisation in the application has a minimum of 3 people on its management committee as per Charity Commission guidelines

And where appropriate, depending on the grant sum requested, the organisation shall:

  • evidence policies in place relevant to the level of funding applied for
  • have a specific adult/child protection policy which includes obtaining checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in relation to regulated activities
  • have in place insurance arrangements in respect of staff, volunteers, users and third parties

If core costs are to be funded, organisations must show how this relates to delivery of service and accomplishment of grants priorities.

  • proposed solutions or applying organisations that do not meet the programme’s eligibility
  • proposed solutions that are already provided under contract to the Adults’ Health and Care Department
  • capital grants (i.e. for equipment repair, maintenance and routine improvements) – there is funding in place elsewhere, but this programme is for projects only
  • generic counselling services
  • proposed solutions that are solely within the unitary authority areas of Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council
  • any party political activity
  • proposed solutions that cater for one religious group, or promote or incite discriminatory practice
  • funding cannot be used for proposed solutions where there is a responsibility for them to be funded from the local precept, school or other service funds

Organisations will not normally be eligible for grants where they hold unallocated reserves in excess of one year's running costs, or where it is judged that these reserves are unreasonably in excess of what is required or not allocated for legitimate purposes. Those organisations receiving recurring funding which hold unallocated reserves in excess of three months' running costs may receive a reduced grant.

The Adults’ Health and Care Grant Programme has adopted the Charity Commission’s reserves policy in this respect. The Charity Commission’s definition of reserve is:

Reserves are that part of a charity's unrestricted funds that is freely available to spend on any of the charity's purposes. This definition excludes restricted income funds and endowment funds, although holding such funds may influence a charity's reserves policy. Reserves will also normally exclude tangible fixed assets held for the charity's use and amounts designated for essential future spending
How to apply

To apply for this grant use the guidance notes and application form.