The Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant scheme, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by the British Science Association (BSA) and Science Ceilidh, supports communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to work with researchers to address local climate change issues.  

What happened in the first phase of the programme?

In the first phase of the programme, we awarded grants of up to £5,000 to nine community-led climate change research projects across the Highlands and Islands, which ran between April to October 2022.   


The grant scheme demonstrated the potential impact of smaller grants and a supported development process to establish new relationships between grassroots climate action groups, their communities and researchers. 


What funding is available in the second phase of the programme?

*Grant applications are now closed*

  • Building Capacity Grants of up to £2,000: phase one community-researcher partnerships will receive tailored support/interventions based on their needs specifically to build capacity and “bridge” to the next step for their partnership. This will be supported by Building Capacity Grants of £2,000. These grants are only open to groups that participated in phase one of the programme.
  • New Voices Grants of up to £5,000: we are supporting new groups based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with grants of up to £5,000 to work with researchers on designing local action around climate change issues that affect their communities.

For these New Voices Grants, we want to hear from communities that are currently underrepresented in science, research and innovation and climate change activity, in particular:

  • People from ethnic minority backgrounds
  • Speakers of minoritised languages (including Gaelic)
  • People living in communities which face disadvantages including in terms of education and economic opportunities

What is a community? 

This could be any group of individuals sharing experiences, characteristics, interests or needs, within one of the areas covered by the grants programme. The community does not need to be a formal group or organisation and applications can be made by an individual. 

Who is a community member or leader?

To apply for a New Voices Grant, you will need to have an established relationship with individuals from a community. You will have access to the community and have built-up trust with its members, often - but not always - through being actively involved yourself. 

What is meant by ‘underrepresented groups’?

We are aware that there are barriers to participation in science, research and innovation, and climate change activity, and so are wanting to prioritise and support groups that are not strongly represented in this kind of work. For the purpose of this grant, we are focusing on the following ‘voices’ that are not as prominent in our current network: people from ethnic minority backgrounds, speakers of minoritised languages (including Gaelic) and people living in communities which face disadvantages including in terms of education and economic opportunities.

We recognise that these experiences often intersect with wider underrepresentation and that people can face multiple challenges or barriers to participation. We are also aware that this terminology does not always reflect how people choose to self-identify. We welcome enquiries from groups who consider themselves as facing a specific barrier to inclusion in their own terms.

What is a research professional? 

A research professional could be someone currently working in a university, the NHS or for a health charity or social enterprise, or they could be an independent expert. They will have a record of carrying out and publishing research. 

What is research? 

Research is the careful, detailed and rigorous exploration or investigation of an idea or problem to create new knowledge or ways of doing things. 

What role will the researcher play in New Voices Grant projects? 

The aim is that the researcher responds to and works with the community, bringing in their expertise to support and develop the idea/project/activity. This is not about a 'one off' consultancy or advisory role, but to collaborate together. 

How and when is a researcher matched with a community for New Voices Grant projects? 

You are not required to name a researcher in your application, but you will need to indicate ways in which you might work with one. If successful, there will be support provided to match you with a researcher and help you develop a project together. This process will run in June 2023 (see our guidelines for further information on this). 

How do we estimate our budget for New Voices Grants? 

You will be asked to outline of costs associated with the event/project and how the grant funding will be used. We are not looking for a detailed budget at this stage, as this can be revised and updated if you are successful. We are mainly interested in knowing the types of costs you are likely to have for this project. 

You do not need to include researcher costs in your budget (if you are not already working with someone), but we anticipate each project will need to allocate up to 30% of the budget to researcher costs. It may therefore be worth reserving this amount when creating your budget.

Evaluation will be coordinated by the BSA. You do not have to include evaluation costs within your proposed budget.

How long should my New Voices project run?

It is anticipated that the projects will last up to 6 or 7 months. Activity should start in September 2023, but may start earlier. All projects must finish by the end of March 2024.

What can funding be spent on?

Grant money can be used for the following:

  • Project-specific staff costs – salaries or fees for people who are essential to the project and whose salaries aren’t already covered by another grant
  • Researcher costs – salaries or fees for researchers that aren't already covered by another grant or by their own salary. You should allow a contingency budget for researcher expenses, in particular for their travel costs.
  • Materials and equipment essential for the project
  • Travel and subsistence costs
  • Room hire and catering
  • Publicity
  • Speakers and trainers
  • Reasonable volunteer expenses
  • Other costs of activities associated with the grant
  • Overheads for the community group – these can only account for a maximum of 10% of your grant. These are the indirect expenses of running your project, sometimes called “core costs” 

Is there anything I cannot spend the funding on?

The grant cannot be spent on:

  • Single-use disposable items
  • Costs incurred before your proposed project starts
  • Activities/partnerships outside the UK
  • Emergency, top-up, or maintenance funding
  • Loans, investments, or capital costs
  • Delivery of frontline services, such as healthcare services or interventions

What type of project constitutes a climate change project? 

The project/activity should reflect climate change issues that matter to your community.  

For example projects/activities could (but are not required to) link to themes such as:  

  • How we grow and eat food (food and farming) 
  • How to travel sustainably (sustainable transport)
  • How to source and use sustainable power (energy, renewables) 
  • How and where we will live in the future (e.g. housing, de/repopulation, migration) 
  • How to manage waste and consumption (waste management and consumption, circular economies) and; 
  • How to protect our natural environment and biodiversity (the natural environment and biodiversity e.g. addressing flooding, water shortage, habitat protection). 

For more information and ideas on project themes, visit our guidelines. 

Can my group apply to the New Voices Grant if we have no prior experience in climate change activities?

Yes, we are hoping to fund a range of projects covering different levels of experience with climate change action. If you have an idea of a project or activity related to climate change that is important to your community, we would love to hear from you. Support can be provided for the application process, and throughout the programme, including peer mentorship and training opportunities.

Do projects need to be new, or can we apply to the New Voices Grant to maintain an existing project or activity?

You can apply to this grant to maintain existing work you’re doing, as long as the project meets the criteria of this fund, and so long as the budget doesn’t include costs for activities that have already taken place.

Can I apply for a New Voices Grant if I have already been funded by this programme in the previous round?

No, this round of funding is specifically tailored to groups who haven’t already been funded in this programme, and who are underrepresented within this type of community-researcher partnership working. Projects that received funding in the previous round are eligible to apply for the Building Capacity Grant (see above).

Can I apply to the New Voices Grant if I was unsuccessful in the previous round of funding?

You are welcome to submit another application if you believe you are from a community that is underrepresented in this type of programme. We are specifically looking to hear from: people from ethnic minority backgrounds; speakers of minoritized languages; people living in communities which face deprivation, including people disadvantaged in terms of education and income.

What if my group doesn’t have a group bank account?

It is alright to apply if your group does not have a group bank account and a personal bank account has to be used. However, if a personal bank account is used, we will ask for receipts to demonstrate how the funding was spent, which is not required for funding that goes into a group bank account.

Can a charity with Scottish Government funding apply for a New Voices grant? 

Yes, a project of this kind could be suitable. However, please check grant criteria in our guidelines. It is also worth noting we cannot fund activity that has already occurred.

Is your question unanswered?

Watch our webinar for more information on the New Voices grant and application process. We highly recommend that you watch the recording before submitting an application for the grant.


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For any further information, please get in touch at [email protected].