Social Enterprise Support Fund opens for final round

Social enterprises in England have final opportunity to apply for £18.7 million grant fund

Social enterprises are being encouraged to apply for the final round of The Social Enterprise Support Fund, which opens for applications on Thursday 10th September.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund was established in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and five social enterprise support agencies: Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Community Land & Finance CIC (also known as Resonance), the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd with support from CAF Venturesome, the Young Foundation and Ashoka.  £18.7 million of National Lottery funding has been committed to the fund, made possible by National Lottery players.

The partners behind the scheme understand that social ventures need to plan to weather the ‘perfect storm’ they face: COVID-19 continuing, increased demand for their services, a global recession and the end of short-term Government support.


Mark Norbury, Chief Executive of UnLtd, explains,

“The fund has been a massive success – it looks like we’ll have got a vital £14m in grant funding to over 400 social enterprises in England over the first two rounds. We want to encourage as many social enterprises as possible – particularly those led by Black, Asian, minority ethnic or disabled people – to apply to our final round as possible. We want them to have the chance to get the funds they need to weather the perfect storm on the horizon. Thanks to National Lottery players, there are grants available now. Our message is: if your business has been affected by COVID-19, don’t hesitate. If you are eligible, apply for support.”


According to recent research, a quarter of social enterprises in the UK have cash flow for just three months or fewer. As the furlough scheme and other short-term support ends, four in ten social enterprises say the outlook for their business over the next six months looks uncertain.

The fund has so far received nearly 900 applications, and by 8th September had agreed to support over 400 social enterprises across the length and breadth of England with over £12.2 million in grant funding. Research shows that this crisis is disproportionately hurting communities who already experience social and economic inequalities. For the final round, eligibility for the fund has been widened to organisations with an annual income of between £20,000 and £1.8million.

The fund has made a commitment to ensure that the grants reach businesses that are led by people most impact by Coronavirus.  Over 70% of those funded so far were organisations have gone to leaders with lived experience.

Social enterprises are using the grants to keep critical services running or adapt to new circumstances as a result of Coronavirus. Some of the organisations so far funded include:

  • Exceptional Individuals, who provide consulting, recruitment and employment support to employers and individuals with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. This funding is vital in enabling the organisation to keep their skilled team of neurodivergent individuals in employment and allow them to invest in the equipment and infrastructure needed in order to bring their services online effectively.
  • Challenge Academy in the West Midlands, who provide affordable and accessible outdoor learning opportunities for marginalised communities. The funding will help them to deliver a new ‘life changing’ experiential learning course helping participants to develop resilience and a growth mindset.
  • LGBTQ+ specialists Think2Speak, who exist to empower and encourage young people to have conversations that matter to them, from wellbeing to social action. The funding will help young people and their families whose emotional wellbeing has been impacted by Covid 19, responding to increased demand and reducing mental health waiting lists.
  • Papi’s Pickles provide exceptional South Indian and Sri Lankan food and pickles made by women from these communities who relocated to the UK due to the conflict in Sri Lanka. The funding will support them develop an online sales offering, including hot food and pickle delivery, while growing their existing work with weddings and event catering.
  • Open Barbers, based in London, provides a hairdressing experience free of assumptions around identity, with a particular emphasis on meeting the mental health and wellbeing needs of LGBTQ+ people. The hairdressers have recently reopened their doors to the public after having to close due to the pandemic. Open Barbers will use the grant funding to continue the core ethos of providing affordable and accessible hair services for marginalised individuals, in a Covid-secure environment.
  • The New Leaf Initiative are prison to employment specialists operating in the West Midlands, supporting people with convictions to access training, education and employment opportunities. This funding will create some financial stability and help them to reduce the financial and isolation crisis' for individuals with convictions, allowing New Leaf to pilot ways of employing people which are democratic and empowering. 
  • Offploy support people with criminal convictions to secure meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment. This funding will allow them to remobilise to deliver their services, bring back furloughed staff and put them on a secure financial footing, re-establishing them for the years to come. 
Share this page

Author Info

For more information and to apply for the Social Enterprise Support Fund

Social Enterprise Support Fund

online community


We host a series of events throughout the UK each year. From classes and conferences, seminars and workshops to networking events and training sessions.

Upcoming events

learning area

Learning area

Looking for financial guidance? Want to sharpen your marketing skills? Access our range of guides in the learning area..

Visit our learning area

Hide this Message

To provide you with the best browsing experience, this site uses cookies. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.