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 in addressing local climate change issues.

These guidelines provide information for community groups interested in applying for a Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant who were not part of the scheme in phase one.

If you are a researcher interested in being involved in the scheme, please skip to section 3.

Phase one: the grant scheme supported nine community groups and their researchers to build mutually beneficial relationships and to take local action to adapt to climate change. The programme 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.

Phase two: grants of up to £5,000 are available to support groups based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to work with researchers on designing local action around climate change issues that affect their communities.

In phase two we are specifically seeking to support new and amplify existing community ‘voices’ in the programme. 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

You don’t need a fully formed project at this stage to be able to apply, though your project/activity idea should respond to climate change issues that will make a positive difference to your community. Groups are welcome to apply for the grant whether they have previous experience with climate change activities, or no experience but are keen to get involved in this area.

Funded groups will be supported to connect and develop a collaborative project by working closely with a researcher. The BSA and Science Ceilidh can help you connect with a relevant researcher to collaborate on your project.

You may not have done this type of research project or applied for this type of funding before, and we want this to be an accessible learning experience for the communities and researchers involved. There is support available throughout the whole grant process, including the development of applications and the matching with researchers, as well as during the delivery of the project itself.

If you are interested and have any questions that aren’t answered in these guidelines, or if you require information in different formats, please get in touch at [email protected].

You can skip to the following sections:

  1. What funding and support are available?

  2. What groups are we looking for?

  3. How will groups work with a researcher?

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

  5. What can funding be spent on?

  6. When activities should take place, deadlines, and payments

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

  8. Grant selection process - how will decisions be made?

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

  10. How to apply

  11. Context

Information Webinar

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.


1. What funding and support are available?

Grants of up to £5,000 are available to community groups to run a project or activity focusing on a local climate change issue and to build a partnership with a researcher to support your work. Projects can be a new idea or build on existing work by the community which would benefit from a 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.

This grant will cover researcher costs and expenses where applicable, though we expect that at least 70% of the grant should go towards community project delivery costs to ensure maximum community benefit. We will work with you to develop your budget if you are successful in the application.

We have found that helping funded community research projects connect with and learn alongside each other is really valuable. We will therefore be holding “community of practice” workshops to provide support and networking between the funded groups and researchers throughout the programme.

The community of practice will also connect you to the 10 community groups and researchers who ran similar projects from phase one of the programme, as well as wider stakeholders who are involved in climate action and community-researcher partnerships.

There will be three online community of practice workshops (no more than half a day each) and one in-person workshop during the programme for the groups and researchers involved. Please see the table in section 4  below for approximate timings. If you are funded, you will be expected to take part in the community of practice workshops, and we encourage you to factor this into your budget and time commitments.

2. What groups are we looking for?

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 that bring ‘new voices’ into our discussions and work around climate change. These include groups that are currently underrepresented in science, research and innovation, and climate change activity, specifically:

  • People from an ethnic minority background
  • Speakers of minoritised languages (including Gaelic)
  • 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. For the purpose of this fund, we are actively looking to hear from groups who identify with the descriptions above, though we also welcome inquiries from groups who self-identify as facing a specific barrier to inclusion.

Communities and activities should be based in the Highlands and Islands – for this grant, we define this as being 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.

We welcome applications led by groups where this may be the first time working with researchers and/or climate change activities, as well as more experienced groups.

3. How will groups work with a researcher?

Funded projects will be in partnership with a researcher, but you don’t need to have a partnership already in place to be able to apply.

For groups without an existing partnership, we’re keen to hear how building a relationship with a researcher might support your community's goals around climate change action.

Projects will be community-led, and we expect that knowledge will flow both ways. We are looking for projects that have the potential to lead to longer-term community and researcher relationships, rather than projects where researchers carry out research or gather data “on” a community.

Previous examples of how communities and researchers worked together are highlighted in our phase one case studies and include:

  • Spending time getting to know each other and sharing each other’s skills and knowledge around climate change issues, working with communities, or research ideas and techniques.
  • Researchers training community members on how to design and run the research - from interviewing other volunteers of the community about their priorities to planning citizen science projects and running carbon audits.
  • Researchers supporting the community to expand an existing project, e.g. developing a reusable cup trial for businesses and sharing talks with the wider community around sustainability and consumption.

We will not fund projects suggesting only a ‘one-off’ intervention with a researcher (e.g. a single visit or presentation with no follow-up, relationship building or further interaction). Whilst a researcher working in a ‘consultancy’ capacity might be a small element of a 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 community 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 ways in which you might work with one. If your application is successful, there will be support provided to match you with a researcher and help you develop a project together.

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

Researcher and community group matching for successful projects will happen in June 2023. Alongside this, one-to-one researcher and community group ‘conversations’ will help to establish how each community group and researcher can best work together on their projects.

If you’re a researcher, you can express your interest in being matched to a successful community group now.

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

For more information, please see the researcher information webpage.


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

You don’t need a fully formed project at this stage to be able to apply, though your project/activity idea should reflect climate change issues that matter to your community.

We are especially interested in projects that seek to explore adaptations to the expected effects of climate change, or an aspect of climate change that you feel has been under-explored.

Types of projects/activities could (but are not required to) link to the following themes:

  • How to manage resources and consumption (e.g. the circular economy, right to repair, and rethinking ‘waste’)
  • How to travel sustainably (sustainable transport)
  • How we grow and eat food (food and farming)
  • 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 protect our natural environment and biodiversity (e.g. addressing flooding, water shortage, habitat protection).

 5. What can funding be spent on?

We expect that the majority (70% or more) of the funding will be spent on community-related project delivery costs to maximise the benefit of the project to communities, with the remaining funding covering researcher costs. Details of researcher costs can be suggested but not finalised in this stage of the application, and support will be provided to work this out collaboratively once successful projects have been matched with a researcher.

Grant money can be used for:

  • 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. This can include time to join the community of practice.
  • Researcher costs - travel expenses or fees that aren’t covered by another source, such as a university.
  • Materials and equipment essential for the project.
  • Travel and subsistence costs.
  • Room hire and catering.
  • 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 (i.e. disposable) items, keeping in mind sustainability in your project planning.
  • 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.

We will be looking for a ‘headline budget’ in the application form, so you don’t need to provide exact costs at this stage if that isn’t possible. We just require an overview of the types of costs you anticipate will be associated with the project.

There will be an opportunity to revise your budget with your researcher and with the support of the BSA and Science Ceilidh, before the start of the project.

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

6. When activities should take place, deadlines and payments

Deadline for applications - submit form by 17:00

10 May 2023

Grants confirmed

End of May / Early June 2023

Researcher/group ‘matching’

June 2023

Online Community of Practice workshop

Late June 2023

Projects begin

September 2023

In-person Community of Practice workshop

September 2023

Online Community of Practice workshop

December 2023

Online Community of Practice workshop

March 2024

Projects completed

31 March 2024

  • The deadline for applications is 17.00 on Wednesday, 10 May 2023.
  • All successful applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the end of May / early June 2023. If successful, payment of the grant will be made directly into the nominated bank account.
  • Activities should be completed by 31 March 2024. We cannot fund activities that take place beyond this time. 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.

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

Below is a summary of the grant application form, which should be filled out by a member of the community group (not the researcher). A PDF of all the application form questions is available here. Please note that support is available at any stage in writing and submitting the application, if required.

Please 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:

1) A description of your organisation/group: including your participants/community members (200 words max.). 

2) The category that best describes your organisation: charity, social enterprise (including CICs and co-operatives), foundation/trust, non-constituted community group, company, local authority or NHS/hospital.

3) Project description: Briefly explain your idea including what climate change activity/project you would like to work on. How will it respond to a local need related to climate change? Do you have a partner organisation/s? Can you give us a rough idea of anticipated timings? (500 words maximum)

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.

4) What could collaborating with a researcher bring to your project that you couldn’t do otherwise?

(A) If you don’t already have a researcher you wish to work with, how might you work with a researcher, what benefit could 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.

We will be matching you with a researcher if you are successful.

(B) If you are already working with a researcher for this project, you can also add details of who this is, what existing work you have done (if any) and how this opportunity might build on this.

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

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

6) How will you know your project went well? (please note that evaluation will be coordinated and supported by the BSA) (200 words max.)

What do you hope to happen by the end of the project to make it a success? What might be different as a result? How do you hope to learn or benefit from connecting with the researcher(s) and other projects in the network? This could include learning different approaches to climate change activity.

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

Please note the following when creating your budget:

  • 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.
  • Headline budget: 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.
  • There will be time and support to help you revise your budget if you are successful, once you are matched with a researcher.
  • The evaluation will be coordinated by the BSA. You do not have to include evaluation costs within your proposed budget.

8) Bank account details: 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.

This should ideally be a bank registered with the community group making the application. If your group does not have a bank account in its name, grants can be paid to a personal bank account, though please note that we will ask for receipts for how the money was spent if using a personal bank account.

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 will decisions be made?

We will be specifically seeking a diverse selection of groups and projects across different areas of the Highlands and Islands, including different topics, different sizes and types of community groups involved and different experiences of exploring climate change and working with researchers. We will prioritise applications from groups that are currently underrepresented in science, research and innovation and climate change activity, as defined for this programme in section 2 above.

Applications will be assessed by a community panel, including but not limited to people from or working with underrepresented groups within the Highlands and Islands.

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 support for the project – does the project develop from grassroots rather than being “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 for both parties).
  • The range of projects being funded.

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

We will facilitate four community of practice workshops, bringing together community groups and researchers from across the projects funded in phases one and two. There may also be further opportunities for peer support between the two cohorts.

We will also be learning and evaluating as we go along by capturing feedback from the workshops, using participant feedback forms and conducting short interviews to learn more about your experience. We will document 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 

If you have any questions or require any assistance while writing your application, please get in touch on [email protected].

All applications should be submitted online via the grant application form by 17.00 on Wednesday 10 May 2023. 


When completing the application form, please ensure that all email addresses, telephone numbers and bank account details given are correct. Any mistakes in these will delay payment of the grant. As we will communicate with you primarily by email, please ensure you give an email address that is checked regularly by the person who applies for the grant.

We understand that this type of activity planning may be a new experience or different to your remit of work. If so, do not hesitate to contact the BSA team if you have any questions regarding the application procedure. Please email [email protected] if you’d like to discuss any of your ideas before you submit the application. We will also be working with Science Ceilidh locally to provide specific support.

Please also read our FAQ document for additional information. Good luck with your application!


11. Context

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.

This is a new type of programme, funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) 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 underrepresented - to play an active role in research and innovation.

This project is supported by Science Ceilidh, an independent organisation supporting a Scotland where everyone’s creativity, curiosity and wellbeing are valued. Science Ceilidh believes that communities need to be directly involved in addressing the challenges facing our society, such as climate change and mental wellbeing. We work directly with groups including through libraries, youth work and education, putting them at the centre of change-making processes and research, as in our new community-research network which seeks to shape practice and policy around mental wellbeing in the Highlands & Islands and beyond.

For more information, please visit:



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