Thanks for your interest in the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant!


This grant is designed to support and connect communities in the Highlands and Islands to work with a researcher to build mutually beneficial relationships to take local action to adapt to climate change. These grant-funded projects will run from April to October 2022.

How could you explore climate change in your community in the Highlands and Islands through connecting with a researcher?

How can we make a local difference and build on the momentum from COP26?

The British Science Association’s (BSA) vision is a future where science is more relevant, representative, and connected to society. Science is more than a body of research, people working in a lab or even the wider industry that surrounds that. It’s also a way of asking questions, making decisions, and understanding the world.

We believe that science is a tool that everyone could and should be able to use and for us to grow as a society, it’s essential we all do.

We are interested to hear from groups located in the Highland and Islands region of Scotland, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in science, research and innovation (including through geography, socio-economic background or any protected characteristic). We are interested in local projects that adapt and respond to the climate change issues that matter and will make a positive difference to you and your community. These projects should be in partnership with a researcher. The BSA will help you connect with a researcher to collaborate on your project.

This is a new type of grant, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to support diverse communities to connect with researchers to inform community action and use research to respond to climate change.

UKRI’s vision is for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally. Through support and funding for community-led approaches to public engagement UKRI wants to enable communities across the UK - particularly those that are under-represented - to play an active role in research and innovation.


You can skip to the following sections:

1. What funding is available?

2. What groups can apply?

3. How will groups work with a researcher?

4. When activities should take place, deadlines and payments 

5. What type of activity/project could you run?

6. What can funding be spent on?

7. What will we ask for in your grant application form?

8. Grant selection process – how decisions will be made

9. Evaluation – how we will share the learning between the projects

10. How to apply

1. What funding is available?


Grants of up to £4,500 are available to community groups to run a project or activity focusing on a local climate change issue. The project/activity should benefit your community and involve working with a researcher. Grant-funded projects should run from April to October 2022.

Projects can be a new idea or build on existing work by the community which would benefit from partnership with a researcher. We’re especially keen to hear from communities about projects that seek to explore adaptations to the expected effects of climate change.

Here is the recorded version of the webinar for the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant which shares information about the grant and application process, as well as the researcher matching process:

You may not have done this type of project or applied for this type of funding before, so this webinar aims to be an accessible learning experience for the communities and researchers involved. There is support available through the whole grant process, including the development of applications (with webinars and individual support), matching up and partnering with researchers and during the delivery of the project itself.

2. What groups can apply?


To be eligible for a grant, the application must come from a representative from a community group (rather than a researcher) and groups must be community-based. We will prioritise groups who work directly with participants who are traditionally underrepresented in science, research and innovation. These could include:

  • people living in a remote and rural location, defined as settlements of less than 10,000 and/or Level 6 or higher on the Scottish Urban and Rural Classification;
  • people from ethnic minorities and speakers of minoritised languages;
  • people with low socio-economic status, including people disadvantaged in terms of education and income; and
  • people with additional support needs, a physical or mental condition or impairment.

Communities and activities should be based in the Highlands and Islands – specifically for this grant defined as based in the following council areas: Highland Council, Moray Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands, Argyll and Bute Council, Isle of Arran and Isle of Cumbrae.

3. How will groups work with a researcher?


If you have worked with a researcher before, or have someone in mind, you can apply for this grant.

We also welcome applications from groups who have an idea of how a researcher could be involved in their project and would need support in the next stage of the process to identify a suitable researcher to partner with. 

For those who need support to find a researcher for their project, researcher and community group matching for successful projects will happen in March 2022. Alongside this, researcher/community group ‘conversations’ will help to establish how each community group and researcher can best work together on their projects. You can find out more about this process at the webinar.

If you’re a researcher, you can express your interest in being matched to a successful community group now. This will happen after the grant awards have been made in March 2022.

To register your interest as a researcher please complete the expression of interest form. 

For more information see the researcher webpage. 

4. When activities should take place, deadlines and payments 


Webinar (to attend, sign up via the EOI form) 13 December 2021
Deadline for applications - submit form by 17:00 31 January 2022
Grants confirmed Mid-February 2022
Researcher/group ‘matching’ workshop/ training Early March 2022
Projects start and launch workshop 6 April 2022
Evaluation/discussion workshop June 2022
Projects end 31 September 2022
Project celebration and evaluation meeting October 2022

  • The deadline for applications is 17:00 Monday 31 January 2022.
  • All successful applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by mid-March. If successful, payment of the grant will be made directly into the nominated bank account.
  • Activities should be completed by 31 September 2022. We cannot fund activities that take place outside of this period. We do not recommend you start any project delivery in advance of knowing the outcome of your application if you require funding to do this. Please note that the BSA is not liable for any lost deposits or payments if your grant application is unsuccessful.


5. What type of activity/project could you run?


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

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).

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • What climate change issues matter most to your community now? How might your community adapt to future climate change with the help of a researcher?
  • What has your community group been doing already that is related to climate change?  What research might your community be interested in exploring?
  • What might you do to further existing efforts or as a new project? How can you build or deepen a relationship with a researcher?

Your project must involve working with a researcher, for example, this could be to:

  • Share knowledge/ideas about climate change in more accessible and creative ways.
  • Learn from each other’s climate change knowledge/expertise/experience and build or strengthen a community-researcher relationship.
  • Support the community to explore a question themselves through sharing different research techniques and skills.
  • Connect better with existing evidence (e.g. using data) through discussions to make evidence-informed decisions as a community.

We will prioritise projects that have potential to lead to longer term community and researcher relationships, rather than projects where researchers carry out research or gather data “on” a community. We will not fund projects suggesting only a ‘one-off’ intervention with a researcher e.g. a single visit with no follow up, relationship building or further interaction. Whilst working in a consultancy capacity might be an element of the project, we're interested in relationships developing over the duration of the project. We’d also like to see how the researcher can learn from the group in a way that might inform their research in the future.

You are not required to name a researcher in your application, but you will need to indicate how you might work with them. In your application, you will be asked to describe how you might work with a researcher, what type of skills and knowledge might be useful and why they might be of benefit. The BSA will assist successful applicants with finding an appropriate researcher to support their project.

6.  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 – you should allow a contingency budget for researcher expenses, in particular travel costs. We envisage the majority of researcher costs will be covered 'in kind' by their university or organisation. However, once projects and researchers have been matched there is an opportunity to revise budgets only if necessary. The intention is the budget should mainly support Community 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"

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

Please note, evaluation will be coordinated and supported by the BSA, so you do not have to include costs of evaluation within your proposed budget.

The grant must be used in line with the Government guidance on social distancing


7.  What will we ask for in your grant application form?


Please do make sure you address the questions fully. However, please note, the word counts are only a guide, you do not have to write to the maximum word count, if it is not necessary. You will be asked to provide the following information in your application:

  • A description of your organisation/group, including your participants/community members (200 words max.)
  • Who you work with, your target participants/community members
  • Project summary: what climate change project/idea would you like to work on? (400 words max.)

Briefly explain your idea, what activities you will do, How will it respond to a local need related to climate change? Do you have a partner organisation/s?

This does not need to be a complete, fully formed plan, but an overall idea of what form the project will take and how it will run. If relevant, include any climate change work/projects you have done before. 

  • Give us some more detail – are you already working with a researcher?
  1. If yes - Tell us about the relationship between the community and the researcher/s in this project. How will the project add to your existing work, what benefit will they bring and what benefit might they gain from working with you? (300 words max.)
  2. If no - How might you work with a researcher, what benefit will they bring to the project and what benefit might they gain from working with you? What knowledge and/or skills might be useful to your community? (300 words max.)

For example, researchers could:

  • share knowledge about a particular climate change area
  • share new practice, innovation or technologies
  • help consult/design an activity
  • provide training in research or evaluation methods
  • help you make sense of / analyse data.

  • Tell us about the community/communities you will involve and how this topic is relevant/important to them? (200 words max.)

This section will tell us about the community you will involve, how people will take part, are there any barriers to address and importantly how you will know your idea is important to the community.  

  • How will you know your project went well?

Tell us how you will know if your project has gone well. (please note that evaluation will be coordinated and supported by the BSA) (200 words max.)

(What will have happened by the end of the project to make it a success? What might be different? This could include learnings, different approaches to climate change activity.)

  • Contingency plan

We know that the ongoing pandemic is unpredictable and may affect plans for your project. How might you still deliver your activities with social distancing or if there’s another lockdown? (250 words max)

  • Project timeline

Please provide approximate date(s) and a timeline of your activities. We recognise these may change/be updated.

  • Your budget

Using the table in the application form, please provide a budget outline of costs associated with the event/project and how the grant funding will be used.

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

We will ask you for details of the bank account which the grant will be paid into at the time of applying for the grant, including the account name, number and sort code.

Financial information is stored on a secure cloud-based service and will only be used to pay successful grant applicants. Unused details will be deleted. Providing your account details at this stage allows us to pay successful grant applicants immediately, making it easier to start planning your projects.

Please note, if the bank details supplied in your application are incorrect, this will significantly delay the payment of your grant and may result in the grant being withdrawn. Please ensure that you have the correct bank account details before applying.

As part of our grant due diligence process, we confirm the bank details of some grant recipients. If you receive an email requesting confirmation, we ask you to respond and confirm your bank details within 5 working days.

8. Grant selection process – how decisions will be made


We will be specifically seeking a diverse portfolio across different areas of the Highlands and Islands, different topics, different size and types of community groups involved and different experiences of exploring climate change and working with researchers.

The fund will be assessed by a community panel, including representatives from the Highlands and Islands and a community climate change specialist and a representative from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The community panel will be briefed and supported by the BSA and UKRI.

Applications will be judged specifically on:

  • How the project will support the community to adapt and respond to the effects of climate change and how the project may benefit the community and researcher.
  • Evidence of need and wider buy in for the project – does the project develop from grassroots rather than “top-down” from an individual or single organisation.
  • How the researcher will be (potentially) embedded in the project and add value (e.g. the specific project couldn’t happen without the researcher element and there is mutual benefit both parties).
  • The portfolio of projects being funded.

9. Evaluation – how we will share the learning between the projects


Previous experience has found that helping funded projects connect with and learn with each other has been invaluable, therefore we will be developing a small “community of practice” to provide support and networking between the funded groups throughout the duration of these projects.

This will entail three virtual workshop sessions (no more than half a day each) during the project for the groups and researchers involved, along with specific training opportunities and support as needed, recognising this may be a new type of working for some. If you are funded, you will be expected to take part in this as much as possible and we encourage you to factor this into your plans and time commitments.

We will also be learning and evaluating as we go along by capturing feedback from the workshops, feedback forms and a short phone call about your experience. We will also capture your projects informally such as through photographs or film to enable us to share your experiences with the wider sector. These activities will be coordinated by the BSA, so you do not have to include costs for evaluation within your proposed budget.

 10. How to apply


The 10 organisations awarded the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grants

Please also read our FAQ document and full terms and conditions for additional information.

Back to Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant homepage