Funding for playgrounds: a guide to grants for improving outdoor spaces

Funding for playgrounds: a guide to grants for improving outdoor spaces
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Whether a playground is in need of a full revamp or an update to existing facilities, securing external funding is a popular strategy to make resources go further.
At Hand Made Places we believe in delivering playground projects packed with play value, designing and manufacturing long-life products which encourage learning and development as well as creating lots of fun opportunities to make lasting memories.
By choosing API-registered Hand Made Places as a playground partner, clients have the reassurance of knowing they are working with one of the leading UK designers, manufacturers and installers of playground equipment.
And with decades of experience in the playground industry, we are eager to share our knowledge with school and community leaders to ensure families across the UK can enjoy better, equal access to high-quality play opportunities.
The Resources section of our website includes a Funding page with links to a free to view and download Funding Guide.
This guide is updated every three months to keep it fresh and relevant to users and to help as many schools, nurseries, early years, community, parish and neighbourhood settings as possible unlock playground funding.
The guide focuses on revenue streams and grant pots which are designed and tailored to improving outdoor spaces.
As well as grants for playgrounds, the guide includes schemes which will provide funds for outdoor classrooms, community gardens, active travel infrastructure, safer streets and parks.
These projects all fall within our area of expertise and as part of the Broxap group of companies, our clients have access to the very best teams working in the UK’s outdoor infrastructure industry.

Funding for school playgrounds

Primary schools in particular are already encouraged by the government to invest in outdoor spaces for learning and play. The Primary PE and Sport Premium is just one example of cash pots available to schools to upgrade playgrounds.
With a focus on sustainable improvements to encourage a life-long love of physical activity among students, investing in products such as our Trim Trail is an ideal way to meet the fund’s criteria.
Selecting funders with an affinity to a project’s aims or goals is one of the first steps to consider when applying for grants for playgrounds.
Ensuring the project meets the criteria and standards in the first instance will not only enhance chances of funding success, it will also direct applicant time and energy in the right direction.
Tesco Community Grants for example supports schools by providing extra financial help to fund healthy food and activities that boost young people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Eligible projects might include school gardening and growing areas, equipment for EYFS outdoor areas, new playground equipment and inclusive activities which encourage young people of all abilities to get active outdoors.
This is one of the grants detailed in the guide.

Funding for parks and recreation grounds

While competition for funds from national organisations such as Comic Relief and Children in Need can be fierce, there are still a number of smaller pots which neighbourhood projects can benefit from.
The Landfill Communities Fund is a tax credit scheme which, among its objectives, supports the provision, maintenance or improvement of a park or other public amenity.
However the scheme is for projects within 10 miles of an Environment Agency registered landfill site. A simple postcode check will highlight whether a playground meets this location criteria before an application is made – again the details and links to this grant, which is distributed by a number of agencies, is in the Hand Made Places playground funding guide.
The Asda Foundation has a particular focus on equal opportunities which is reflected in a number of high-profile playground campaigns.
Securing funding for inclusive playgrounds, which all visitors can enjoy, can be achieved assuming the project can demonstrate inclusive designs and facilities which all members of the community will have opportunity to benefit from.
This can be accessible playground equipment, a playground design which features different play zones to appeal to all interests, or even the inclusion of seating, with armrests and backrests, which grandparents and carers can make use of.

How to write a funding bid

Once applicants have found a funding stream which matches the goals and aims of their project, it’s important to submit a quality application clearly outlining the relevant details of the bid to the grant panel.
If it is presented poorly against more polished entries it may not make it through the initial stages. Remember that the competition will be strong and that a great project needs a great application.
Make a note of the deadlines for each funding stream. Ensure applications are not rushed or delivered late. 
Build in enough time to complete the application fully, including time to find accurate answers to specific questions, or source the correct accompanying documentation that the grant might call for. And don’t forget to give the application a thorough review before pressing send.
Use the criteria to guide your application. Make a clear case for your project and demonstrate how it shares the same priorities and objectives as the fund you are applying to. Tailor your answers to the questions. Avoid being generic or vague.
Work out your budget. Are you requesting enough money? Do you have match funding in place if needed? Although project costs are estimated in the early stages of an application, it is important to consider issues such as contingency budgets and core costs that will enable you to deliver a project. 
Construct grant performance measures that reflect the project’s objectives. You will be using these measures to monitor how a target is being met. They will also be needed to gauge how worthy a project is for further funding and support.

Getting help with playground funding

Download our funding guide. Think about the project you want funding for and how a grant will help to get it off the ground. 
Read through our case studies, blogs and supporting information and familiarise yourself with the products and equipment we can offer. Consider how you can make your application stand out from others.

Get in touch with our team of trained advisers. Arm yourself with as much information and detail as you can. We are here to help and happy to talk through your proposals, providing quotes and product data.