General scheme questions
- What is Ecominds?
- What is Mind?
- Who is the Big Lottery Fund?
- When can I apply for an Ecominds grant?
- How many grants were on offer?
- How many grants have been awarded?
- How long will it take to assess my application?
- Do Large, Medium, and Small application sizes have closing dates?
- Why were closing dates implemented?
- Where were the closing dates publicised?
- Was there additional criteria?
- How long can a project run for?
- What is the application process?
- Will every application that meets the criteria get a grant?
- Who could apply for an Ecominds grant?
- What were the essential criteria?
- Can Ecominds help to develop an application?
- What sorts of projects received Ecominds funding?
- Where can I get more information?
- Can an organisation apply to two Changing Spaces award partners?
- Can a project apply to Ecominds more than once?
- What is mental distress?
- What is the difference between mental distress and learning difficulties?
- How do applicants prove beneficiaries have experience of mental distress?
- Are there any exceptions regarding Ecominds funding projects aligned with or co-funded by pharmaceutical companies?
- Can I use the name Ecominds in the name of my project?
- Why did you move the deadline forward for small grants?
- Will it take you longer to assess my application, now that you've received so many applications?
- Common Reasons a bid may be rejected?
Specific scheme questions
- Can funding be used for a project benefiting carers?
- Can social enterprises apply?
- Can private companies not making a profit on a project apply?
- Can young people apply?
- What percentage of people involved in the project must have experience of mental distress?
- Can overhead costs be included in the application budget?
- What should a group who lacks knowledge or experience on mental health or the environment do?
- Will there be any protocol around local Mind associations applying to the scheme?
Ecominds is a scheme run by Mind with funding from Big Lottery Fund's latest environmental initiative, Changing Spaces. Ecominds was designed to help people with direct experience of mental distress become involved in projects that improve both mental and physical health, and community environments.
Back to top
Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. Mind works to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress by:
- Advancing the views, needs, and ambitions of people with mental health problems.
- Challenging discrimination and promoting inclusion.
- Influencing policy and achieving equal rights through campaigning and educating.
- Inspiring the development of quality services which reflect expressed need and diversity.
The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing half of the money the National Lottery raises for good causes. The Big Lottery Fund use the money to make large changes for communities through the fair and open funding of people, projects, and programmes, with a particular emphasis on tackling need.
Ecominds is no longer open for applications.
There were about 125 grants on offer, ranging in value up to £250,000.
5 flagship grants were offered and these were awarded at a panel meeting in August 2009. In addition, 23 large, 26 medium and 22 small grants have been awarded to date.
We aim to give you a decision regarding funding success or otherwise within six months of your applications submission date.
Due to high levels of applications, in a small number of cases it has not been possible to assess applications within the intended six month period. We recognise it is essential that we maintain a robust, fair and transparent assessment process for every applicant, even though this means we will take longer to complete our work. We will continue to do everything we can to assess applications as quickly as possible while maintaining a fair assessment process for everyone. If your application is likely to be affected in this way an Ecominds Grants Officer will contact you.
Yes. These dates have now all passed. The details of the closing dates were as follows:
Large bids (£60,001 to £150,000)
12:00 noon, Friday 30 October 2009
Medium bids (20,001 to £60,000)
12:00 noon, Friday 8 January 2010
Small bids (£0 to £20,000)
12:00 noon, Friday 30 April 2010
The Ecominds scheme was quite oversubscribed in the Flagship, Large, and Medium categories. We recognised the considerable effort involved in planning an Ecominds application, and encouraged applicants to bear in mind the high levels of interest and the strong competition for funding before deciding to invest time and effort in submitting an application.
We gave all applicants a minimum of three months public notice as to our intentions of closing each application size of the Ecominds scheme. This information was publicised on the Ecominds website, in our e-newsletters, on our Facebook page, and through the Changing Spaces Advice Line.
No. The programme criteria is clearly set out in the Guidance Notes, and it would have been unfair to all applicants, past and present, to bring in new criteria at any stage.
Projects can run until December 2012.
After you have read Guidance notes one and two, fill out an application form. These are assessed and ratings are assigned. For some applications we may ask the applicant to attend an interview with the grants panel before a funding decision is reached.
No. Funds are limited and we expect many applications, so not all high-scoring projects can be funded. Preference may be given to projects benefiting certain groups such as ethnic minorities and refugees. Please note that applications for projects involving Land and Buildings are taking on a risk as there will be non-refundable costs involved, regardless of the success or otherwise of the application.
Ecominds welcomed applications from England-based groups and organisations seeking to develop environmental projects that involve people with direct experience of mental distress at all levels.
Groups must be constituted and have an accountable management structure with at least three people on the management committee, including chairperson and treasurer. Ecominds may fund new groups or pilot projects but such groups must have held an initial meeting, set up a bank account, and signed a governing document. Ecominds would not provide large or flagship grants to new groups. The panel may favour new projects over those currently or previously funded from other sources.
Applications are assessed against a number of criteria.
The project must:
- have both a mental health and environmental perspective
- be submitted by an England-based group and be applied for in England
- be thoroughly planned and relevant to the environment
- involve people with direct experience of mental distress
- encourage community access, collaboration and improve the environment and environmental sustainability
- have a budget under £250,000
- be delivered by December 2012.
The applicant must:
- demonstrate a genuine need for the project
- be able to develop a detailed financial plan, budget and cash flow which will account for the money applied for
- have the resources to plan, develop, and manage the project, especially if it involves building or buying land
- have the resources to compile basic legal documents
- have the skills to manage the project, develop a detailed timeframe including milestones, and deliver the scheme outcomes.
The Ecominds team are unable to help applicants with their project ideas or advise on any aspects of their application. Please contact the Changing Spaces Advice Line on 08453 671 671 if you have any questions regarding your application.
Ecominds seeks innovative and exciting projects that make a difference to the community and have at their heart people with direct experience of mental distress. We are looking to fund projects that:
- have a mental health and an environmental perspective
- encourage diversity and social inclusion
- involve people with direct experience of mental distress
- demonstrate a genuine need
- deliver within a designated time frame
- provide outcomes and milestones for the proposed activity that contribute towards the outcomes required by the fund and the scheme.
All of the information pertaining to the Ecominds scheme can be found on this website. Alternatively, phone the Changing Spaces Advice Line (08453 671 671) to request an application pack. They are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm.
Yes, provided the projects are completely separate there is no reason why they cannot both be funded. Award partners may, at their discretion, prioritise applicants not previously in receipt of a grant.
Should Ecominds choose to fund another application from an already funded organisation, it may do so as long as the new project is entirely separate. However, the grants panel will bear in mind the past performance of the applicant on the previous grant - especially outcomes, reporting, milestones, budgeting, and financial reporting. Ecominds will not consider more than one application from an organisation at any single grants panel meeting. Priority will be given to applicants not previously in receipt of a grant.
Mental distress covers a wide range of experiences that can seriously limit an individual's ability to cope with day-to-day living. One person in four will have some form of mental health problem according to some estimates, and for as many as one in 50 it will be serious. Although figures and definitions vary, what is clear is that millions of people in the UK will be affected, either by experiencing mental distress themselves or by knowing someone who has.
Having a learning disability such as autism, or an adverse life experience such as homelessness or addiction will not in themselves cause mental distress. The experience of living through these conditions may often result in mental distress.
The aim of the Ecominds grant scheme is to challenge the stigma and social exclusion experienced by mental health service users. Any application for this funding would need to demonstrate how your project would achieve this.
For more information please see Mind's booklet Understanding mental distress.
Learning disabilities occur as a result of genetic or developmental factors or damage to the brain, often at birth; they affect a person's level of intellectual functioning, usually permanently. Learning disabilities tend to be fairly fixed and often cannot be treated and/or controlled with medication or other therapies, although much can be done to help people with learning disabilities achieve the best possible quality of life.
Mental health problems on the other hand are not usually evident in the early years of a person's life, although some can appear in childhood. People diagnosed as mentally ill have feelings or behave in ways that are unacceptable to themselves or others, but these feelings and behaviours are often temporary and can change over time. Unlike learning disabilities, mental illnesses are not usually thought of as a result of damage to the brain and they do not usually result in permanent disabilities of intellectual functioning.
We do not expect applicants to ask beneficiaries to prove their experience of mental distress. We want beneficiaries to define their experience of mental distress themselves, not be defined by Mind. Ecominds wants applicants to demonstrate how they intend to involve people with experience of mental distress and Ecominds will test if the applicant has sufficiently demonstrated the point. If the application is successful, Ecominds will monitor the project to ensure user involvement occurs.
Are there any exceptions regarding Ecominds funding projects aligned with or co-funded by pharmaceutical companies?
While Ecominds will not fund projects specifically aligned with or co-funded by pharmaceutical companies, independent projects run by an organisation funded by or allied in some way to a pharmaceutical company may still be eligible. Ecominds will consider applications on a case by case basis, seeking to ensure that funded projects are not promoted as pharmaceutical company's projects and do not imply an alliance between Ecominds and the pharmaceutical company. For further information contact the Changing Spaces Advice Line on 08453 671 671.
Ecominds is the name belonging to Mind and the Big Lottery Fund that refers to the Ecominds programme. As a result you may not use the name Ecominds in your project.
The high levels of interest meant the scheme had to close to applicants sooner than we expected. Already the scheme had attracted high numbers of fantastic and inspirational applications. Unfortunately we cannot fund all of them and we know how much effort it takes to create your bid and how disappointing it can be to see it rejected, which is why we decided to move the deadline forward.
Will it take Ecominds longer to assess my application, now that you've received so many applications?
Ecominds aims to assess applications within six months of receipt, but with application numbers being extremely high, delays might occur. To be fair to everyone, we assess in strict order of receipt and apply the same rigorous and fair process to all. We have finite resources so if application numbers are high, and your application is likely to be assessed later than expected, then we will contact you.
1. Outcomes and milestones are not SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-bound).
2. The applicant has not stated clearly the proposed project's benefit to the environment and mental health service users. Both of these are essential elements of an Ecominds' project.
3. The budgets are inconsistent; either they havenot been checked and do not add up correctly, or information is entered in the incorrect columns.
4. Application forms are incorrectly filled in.
5. The information presented does not clearly describe what the project will be doing. There is no clear description about what exactly the project will deliver.
6. The application misses the closing date deadline. Applicants did not ensure that the bid reached Ecominds before the closing date.
7. Insufficient supporting documentation.
8. Application is not put together in line with the guidance notes.
9. Not clearly explaining how mental health service users will be involved in the process. Might be mentioned, but is not explained, with examples.
10. Insufficient detail about the number of participants who will be involved in the project, how regularly and in what kind of activities.
Specific scheme questions
Can funding be used for a project benefiting carers?
Carers, like anyone else, are free to apply so long as their project includes people with direct experience of mental distress. They may or may not include themselves in this definition.
Social enterprises including Community Interest Companies (CICs), where the organisation declares a social purpose and reinvests profits into the business or community that they serve, can apply to Ecominds. However, Ecominds projects are intended to run on a not-for-profit basis and applications will be assessed on this basis. Any project profits that may arise may not be transferred to any other activity but must be reinvested back into the Ecominds project. Social enterprise groups will need to be aware of State Aid Regulations which restrict the use of state funding such as Ecominds.
Private companies may apply to Ecominds on the same basis as Social enterprises and CICs. However, an assessment panel will want to see clear intent to create a not-for-profit community project that is separate from the usual company activity and does not contribute to the company's distributable profits. Mind does not accept funding from and will not fund projects co-funded by pharmaceutical companies.
Ecominds does accept applications from schools and colleges. However our guidance notes say we will not accept applications from local authorities and some people might consider a school or college to be part of a local authority. Ecominds will accept applications from schools, colleges and further education establishments, or from student groups set up within them so long as the applicants are a formally consituted group with an accountable management structure. There is no reason why a group of senior students, or younger people with the help of teaching staff, could not satisfy this criteria. The grants panel would not wish to fund a project which the school - or the local authority - has a responsibility to pay for themselves. Ecominds might consider funding environmental activity within a school such as establishing a sensory garden or a wildlife habitat which is not central to their budgets.
There is no definitive answer, however we expect a majority of beneficiaries of the project to be people who have experience of mental distress. This element of the application will be assessed on a case by case basis. With a finite number of grants to be awarded, the assessment panel will seek to fund projects with the most viable focus on, and inclusion of, people with experience of mental distress.
Legitimate overheads can be budgeted within an application. Our assessment panel will include project managers with a sharp eye for what is realistic in terms of an overheads budget.
Applicants can apply for 100 per cent of the project costs so it can be thought of as full cost recovery. It doesn't have to be so - projects can part-fund themselves if they wish. Our assessment panel will favour projects that offer good value for money and demonstrate economies of scale.
The group needs to recognise their shortcomings and make budgetary provision for the services they need. For instance, the Mental Health User Group might budget for an environmental consultant on garden or allotment design; and the environmental group's budget might include a mental health consultant to provide the appropriate awareness and user involvement training.
Local Mind associations are independently registered charities and so are free to apply to the Ecominds scheme along with everyone else. There are controls in place to prevent any prioritisation of local Mind association applicants on Ecominds part. For example, the Ecominds grants panel has within its Terms of Reference that Mind staff and local Mind association personnel may not form a majority part of our grants panel, or a majority of the quorum of that panel.
The Guidance Notes states that the project summary, question 4.3, is used by Ecominds throughout the life of the project in reports, documents, press releases, media interviews, articles, evaluations, and case studies. Applicants should construct the 30 word summary with care and ensure it accurately reflects the projects intentions. Currently the summaries we have been receiving are focusing more on how many posts are funded and so on instead of the positive changes the project will make. For example, this summary does not give Ecominds any sort of indication of the positive outcomes the funding would provide:
A grant towards the cost of: a staff member to lead the project and provide training to beneficiaries, volunteer costs to cover out of pocket expenses; volunteers will provide 1-1 support and guidance, general running costs.
What would be better is if the applicant briefly told us what their project would do and what it hopes to achieve. For example:
A grant towards the cost of: setting up a flower bed at the local flower show to showcase the talents and hardwork of our service users, while increasing their confidence, community interaction, and mental health awareness.