Catalyst Grants Project

Community Southwark’s Catalyst Grants pilot programme in Southwark, working with Impact on Urban Health 

Updated 30th May 2022

The Catalyst Grants Pilot came to an end at the end of April 2022.  It provided small grants of up to £500 to people on low income. Funds were able to be used flexibly for what people felt would make a meaningful difference to their lives and overall well-being, or help fulfil personal goals, where a financial barrier currently exists.

The pilot has been co-ordinated by Community Southwark and co-designed with 5 VCS organisations who support diverse communities in Southwark, with funding from Impact on Urban Health.  Each partner received £5,000 to distribute as grants as well as £2,500 for administration and coordination costs for grant distribution.  A Community Grants Officer employed by Community Southwark supported the VCS partners to design, set-up and deliver the pilot for 18 months from November 2020 – April 2022.

The pilot has shown the positive impact of this kind of small grants programme. From the data and feedback presented, it is clear that VCS partners and grant beneficiaries felt the grant was impactful and effective and was able to give choice and agency to individuals to manage their wellbeing and improve their health. VCS partners cited many positives with regards to the grant concept and those who received grants have reported on its impact on wellbeing and how it has been a ‘catalyst for change’.

It also had significant benefits for the VCS organisations involved such as solidifying relationships, meeting an immediate need to improve wellbeing and building trust, which has all made their work more impactful.

Our final report, which analyses and collates the data and feedback on the impact and effectiveness of the pilot as well as the experiences of the VCS partners administering the pilot, is available here.

The partners who were involved in the pilot were:

  1. Bede House – Assist domestic abuse survivors, people with learning difficulties, and offer youth programmes to children/young people from families on low income.
  2. CGL Southwark – Support individuals with substance misuse issues.
  3. Fair Finance – Provide specialist debt advice, focusing on providing bespoke one-on-one support to the most vulnerable in society.
  4. Peckham Rights! and Bells Garden TRA (joint bid) – Peckham Rights! promote racial equality and human rights for marginalised communities. Bells Garden TRA is a Tenants and Residents Association that serves the Bells Gardens Estate.
  5. Rastafari Movement UK – Deliver culturally specific, sustainable projects and hubs to counteract food injustice.


“I call it our ‘feel good fund’. It makes us all feel good. People are amazed when we tell them they have a choice to spend the money on something for them, to make themselves feel better. They are amazed that there is someone out there who cares about them.” Quote from Catalyst Grant Partner, 4th partner meeting

“My hope for the grant is…that I will feel less anxious and stressed and have a sense of doing something for myself for once.” Quote from Catalyst Grant recipient, pre-grant survey

“I just have a bit more of a feeling of self-worth now” Quote from Catalyst Grant recipient, post-grant survey

If you want to read more about SDH and how urban living impacts our health, you can download Impact on Urban Health’s report ‘Easing pressures: How work, money and homes can make our cities healthier and fairer‘.

Any questions?

If you have any queries about the project, please contact Katherine (Projects Manager) at or call 020 3848 6540.

We are very grateful to Impact on Urban Health (part of Guys’ and St Thomas’ Foundation) for funding this project.