Helping secure a brighter future for people living and working in the countryside

Logo: The Prince’s Countryside Fund

Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010, The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s mission is to secure a sustainable future for the British countryside, by supporting the UK’s rural communities, British agriculture and the wider rural economy.To help secure a brighter future for our rural communities, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has invested over £6.7 million in projects right across the UK, through both immediate assistance and longer-term sustainability. The charity awards grants which help support vulnerable farm businesses, train young people in farming and rural skills and help develop thriving rural communities. Since its inception, the Fund has directly helped over 210,000 people.

Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, said “The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s grant programme provides an essential lifeline to people living and working in the countryside and is needed now more than ever. We have four key areas we seek to address; improving countryside knowledge, creating thriving rural communities, improving rural livelihoods and supporting farmers of the future.”

Funding for new projects opens twice a year, in September and March. The Fund receives over 200 applications every time, so we asked Grants Manager Clare Crookenden for her top tips to make your application stand out:

  1. The Prince’s Countryside Fund is about helping people, whether it be to secure a rural job, or to save a threatened community from service closures. That being said we can only award grants to organisations not individuals.
  2. Check that your organisation is eligible for the funding. We receive lots of applications in each round and many are turned down because they do not fit our criteria.
  3. If you’re not confident or unsure if your activity fits our criteria just ring us and ask! We’d rather an applicant called us than they spent a huge amount of time on the application and it was not eligible all along.
  4. We love to see new and innovative ideas, and we welcome collaboration. If you think you’ve got a brilliant and new idea, go for it!
  5. Successful applications stand out because the information provided clearly evidences the need, how the funding will be used and the outcomes.
  6. Bring it to life – how will our funding help take your project to the next level? If you can include testimonies or quotes from beneficiaries this will add colour to your application.
  7. Like many funders we are looking for impact. It isn’t all about big numbers – if your activity supports a few people but in a sustained, genuine way this is really attractive to us. Please don’t overstate the potential impact.

Case study: Sussex Wildlife Trust

The Prince’s Countryside Fund funded the Sussex Wildlife Trust in 2013. Their aim is to conserve the Sussex landscape, wildlife and its habitats and to use its knowledge and expertise to help the people of Sussex to enjoy, understand and take action to this end.   Funding provided a volunteer training placement to a young person with the Reserves Team each year for three years.   They received on the job training, learnt conservation skills including coppicing, scrub cutting, stump treating, animal husbandry and livestock handling, stock checking, off-road driving and towing a trailer, basic vehicle maintenance and fencing and gate maintenance.  

Sally Gunnell visits Sam Buckland to support Prince’s Countryside  Fund trainee scheme (Miles Davies, Sussex Wildlife Trust)
Sally Gunnell visits Sam Buckland to support Prince’s Countryside Fund trainee scheme (Miles Davies, Sussex Wildlife Trust)

Sam Buckland completed a year working with the Sussex Wildlife Trust Reserves team in the spring of 2014. Open to young people living in, or close to Sussex, the one-year volunteer scheme enabled Sam to gain valuable skills and practical conservation experience to improve his employment prospects in the rural community.

As well as working towards a Level 2 Diploma in Environmental Conservation, Sam received on-the-job training learning skills including coppicing, scrub cutting, animal husbandry and livestock handling, as well as off-road driving and first aid.

Speaking about his year long placement, 25-year-old Sam said, “It canbe hard for young people to get into conservation work but this scheme’s enabled me to work alongside people who are incredibly knowledgeable – they have a whole lifetime’s experience – and I’m now able to take these skills and move forward with my own career.”

Following his training with the Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sam was offered a perfect countryside management job in the South Downs National Park and continues to work there today.

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) on 15 February 2016