Sustaining Spaces Fund

NSUN logo with the text 'sustaining spaces' above it in a semi circle

The Sustaining Spaces Fund awarded 27 small grants of between £500-£1000, totalling £25,180, to groups facilitating community spaces where people with shared identities and experiences come together in support of one another’s wellbeing. You can find more information on the grantees below.

The Fund was open to peer support, mutual aid or self-help groups, but was not limited to groups defining themselves in this way. We funded groups who are led “by and for” members of communities. These groups are sometimes called “user-led groups”, but again, some groups may not define themselves in that way.

Much of this work, particularly amongst communities facing various forms of marginalisation and oppression, is being done in order to create safe, affirming spaces of connection and healing. This fund aimed to support the needs of those involved and the continuation of these spaces, whether they are local or online.   

Grantee profiles

Angels of Hope for Women

We are a women’s organisation and run an outreach service and work with women and girls who have experienced domestic abuse and other harmful practices. Most of these women are asylum seekers and refugees living in accommodated shelter. We empower the women to become independent and self-reliant. We also inspire women to support others by volunteering and by providing space for them to share ideas.” 

The funding will be used to run a weekly Afro Fit session for BAME women. This will be a safe space where women in the community can come for physical activities but also to get that peer support from others and to get appropriate cultural support from others. 

Find out more about Angels of Hope for Women:


Be Active Recovery Group

The group meets each Tuesday in the Ladywood Leisure Centre for three hours. The centre has a 25M swimming pool and a good quality Gym which our members are free to use. Five of the people in the photo had been for a swim just before the meeting and the photos also show our founders; Mohammed playing Backgammon with his face towards the camera, me, the older white guy in yellow and Yasser, by the door in the other picture which I took. We also often go out for walks around the local canals and Edgbaston Reservoir, (a five minute walk from the centre). 

We are to use the money to keep the group going as it was in danger of extinction before the NSUN grant award and also to extend our services to more members especially to women. We are planning to go out for two meals (subsidised by the group) over the Christmas period which proves such a difficult time for people with mental health problems. We are also planning two day-trips (again subsidised by the group) to help to get people out and about in the New Year. Most of our funding goes towards keeping the group running each week.  We are particularly interested in finding a long term source of funding. 

Black Men’s Consortium

The Black Men’s Consortium is a weekly creative space for Black men where experiences of mental health and services can be shared. The group works together every Monday evening to creatively cement long term relationships which lead to shared activities. The overall aim of the group is to raise the profile of Black men and to work collaboratively to improve our lives. It’s a group of peer educators who support each other through the challenges and problems they face on a daily basis. We use drama and theatre activities to explore a wide range of social issues that affect Black men, for example discrimination, exclusion and structural racism, distrust of the Police and health professionals.  

We will be using this grant to enable members to feel a deeper ownership and authority in the way they advertise and promote the project to other Black men in the community. It will allow them to make presentations to individuals and groups by sharing the high-profile publicity materials. The publicity materials will enable us to outreach and engage Black men who are isolated and hard to reach, who may be experiencing challenges in their lives, lack employment prospects, living in poor housing conditions or experiencing mental illness due to other stress factors. 

Find out more about Black Men’s Consortium on their Facebook page.


Borashabaa is a charity organisation which seeks to aid refugees and asylum seekers in the local community of Hull, providing them with the necessary help to thrive in their new environment. Borashabaa offers free ESOL classes for those who can not afford or are not funded to go to college, higher education, or university. in these ESOL classes we also integrate arts and craft sewing and cooking lessons so the people can learn about other cultures and heritage while teaching others about theirs. Borashabaa also provides activities for the children of the refugee and asylum seekers. 

We intend to use the grant to buy materials and equipment for the sewing classes which are on a weekly basis. £499.99 for a sewing machine and fabrics for the students to use. £240.01 for refreshments and foods such as tea, coffee, and biscuits during the classes. £260 for the classroom  hire, volunteer expenses and bus passes for the young people. 

Find out more about Borashabaa:
Borashabaa website
Social media: Boarashabaa
Email: (phone 01482680524 / 07398112959)

Compassionate Cuppa

Compassionate Cuppa’s mission is to uplift mental wellbeing through empowering conversations and action together. We do this by providing:  

• 1:1 mental health mentoring  

• mental wellbeing projects in collaboration with charities/social enterprises 

• mental health Drop-In’s and peer support  

• mental health friendly spaces/quiet zones at community events 

We will use the grant towards the delivery of Compassionate Conversations Programme. We will aim to support the LGBTQIA+ community in Southampton, those who are experiencing mental health challenges or emotional distress. The Programme is about providing a safe, non judgemental space where individuals come together to share their experiences, listen and learn from each other. The grant will help to bring participants together face-to-face for the programme, also towards an online platform where participants can meet online for peer support on a regular basis. 

Find out more about Compassionate Cuppa:
Compassionate Cuppa website
Facebook page

Family Unit Trust

Our organisation is a user led group. From our trustees to beneficiaries have all experienced cancer. We are a user led charity that support families living in poverty and cancer (highest deprived area of Manchester; Newton Heath). Our members are with health conditions cancer and disability. We improve the awareness of cancer in our community. We challenge disadvantage and tackle inequality, help our diverse families with daily barriers they face. We’re grassroots community formed, lived experience, to combat discrimination, stigma, loneliness promotes human right and prevent poverty. Our vision is to achieve a society in which families with disabilities contribute, are valued, and have their right respected. Because we know our clients so well and majority of them come from the same backgrounds, we are well placed to lead change through targeted events and workshops. Our work is critical to improving the lives of marginalised group in our society.

The grant will be used to purchase a desktop which will help us to continue support our clients effectively and to deliver improved remote services. We are creating a professional base from which to serve our beneficiaries, so the equipment will enable our staff and volunteers to be more accessible to clients combating cancer, mental health issues, loneliness, isolation, and poverty and to take our service to the next level.

Find out more about Family Unit Trust:
Facebook page



GIN UK aim to support and connect the LGBTQIA community of Indian & South Asian Heritage with each other and their friends and allies in the UK. GIN started as the Gay Indian Network (GIN) in September 2018 and are now the GIN LGBTQIA Indian Network in the UK with over 1,500 members. GIN is run by a team of 12 volunteers who operate via their GIN Meetup Group and meet up regularly each month. GIN provide a range of groups and services such as GIN & Lime Women’s’ Group for South Asian women, GIN Midlands, GIN Well Being support group, GIN Book Club, Next GINeration for younger members, and GIN Tele-friending Buddy Service (GTBS) to help isolated people connect. They have around 5 meetups per month, and monthly “deeper connection” Saathi conversation group, as well as trips to cinema, museums, Indian restaurants, and LGBTQIA social support events. 

The NSUN fund will be used to hire safe private rooms where we can have monthly well being meetings. GIN Saathi (Companion) host regular facilitated “deeper conversations” meetings that allow people to speak about what is on their mind. Saathi is our Deeper Connections through deeper conversations group, for support and growth, from shared experiences. People can share experiences of homophobia, racism and issues with parents and families in private safe spaces. The fund will also help to achieve a dedicated zoom account so that we can also host these well being meetings online for members across the UK.  

Find out more about GIN:
Meetups – website
GIN website
Instagram: @ginindian
Twitter: @GINindianUK

Girls Against Anxiety

Girls Against Anxiety is a support group for girls, women, and non-binary people who are struggling with their anxiety and mental health. We’re creating spaces for 18-25-year-old women and non-binary people of any lifestyles to come and feel like they are no longer alone and get creative while doing so. Every week we get together to journal, supplying warm drinks and refreshments for everyone. We have open conversations about our worries and anxieties and provide a supportive space for each other. We can talk about what type of anxieties we are having, how we cope, and what makes us feel better. Each session provides time and comfort to laugh, cry and feel heard.  

The NSUN funding is helping us continue what we are doing which is running our groups on a weekly basis with a facilitator to be able to support our members and provide craft supplies and refreshments for everyone. Every week we get together to journal, supplying warm drinks and refreshments for everyone. We want to hold creative workshops to break down the barriers some young people may have in trying new things this may be from anxiety, fear of failure, and financial barriers this can range from jewellery making to painting, book clubs, well-being workshops, and any craft that will give us a sense of joy and accomplishment, and this grant helps us keep making that a reality for our members and pay for other creatives to come and teach/join us. 

Find out more about Girls Against Anxiety:
Girls Against Anxiety Website
Facebook and Instagram: @girlsagainstanxiety

Happy Health Club

We promote our concept – a healthy body, a happy mind. We aim to create an environment suitable for all people and allow them to have an opportunity to train their body and train their mind by offering  

1.Chinese cooking training. 

2.Gardening – green house and a cafe place for members to meet with Tea and enjoy seeing the flowers. 

3.Tai’Chi & Five steps Kongfu – training (Chinese soft Martial Art) 

4.Chinese music instrument trainingAncient Zeng – A bit like Harp) 

5.Dance and singing class and create a regular place for people relaxing their mind and meeting like-minded people, create a place members sharing their knowledge. 

We will be kind and help each other, give the lift to the people who need transport to attend our event. We aim to create more opportunities for people to feel relaxed, learnt and happily enjoy every day life full of joy, happiness and interest.

Learnest CIC

Learnest CIC is a trans-led and community-owned organisation running LGBTQ+ led projects and services in Wakefield. Using the talents and skills of trans and non-binary people, Learnest work to positively impact the lives of those affected by transphobia, biphobia and homophobia in the workplace and wider society.

Find out more about Learnest CIC via their website.

Manchester Roots

Manchester Roots Project is a group of 9 people (6 people with lived experience of the asylum system and 3 people who are friends or family with people who have lived experience). We are a mixture of backgrounds, cultures, religions, ethnicities, genders, ages and we speak a total of 8 different languages between us.   

Our group sessions are being used to build a project in Manchester which is informed and led by people’s lived experience of the asylum system. Rather than a project that is being set-up FOR people, it is being set-up BY people with lived experience. This creates autonomy and empowerment as our group gain purpose, meaning, community and connection – all of which are essential elements of good mental health and wellbeing.  

At Manchester Roots Project we are still in the crucial phase of building and developing our project, so the money we have been awarded will have a huge impact on the sustainability and longevity of our group.   

This grant will mean that we can continue to hold our fortnightly meetings which are enabling us to build a new project in Manchester that is led by asylum seekers and refugees, for the benefit of other asylum seekers and refugees.  

The money will fund an additional 12 development sessions – where we work together to plan our project – over about 6 months. This will provide our members with bus-fares to attend our meetings and also to provide snacks, drinks and any other resources that are needed for our meetings (e.g. art and crafts, facilitation tools). Thank you to NSUN and Peerfest for believing in us and supporting our work. 

Find out more about Manchester Roots:
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: @rootsprojectmcr


MixUp is perhaps the only support group of its kind. It is a BIPOC [Black Indigenous, People of Colour] space with QTBIPOC leads. It is open and welcoming for all BIPOC who have experienced abuse and trauma. We recognise the trauma of racial abuse and other complexities BIPOC people face because of who we might love and the religions we might reject. 

The grant was a group saver; it meant we could continue our meetings in a safe and comfortable space with ample parking and good transport links. And the money also goes towards our ‘coffee pot,’ which provides teas, coffees and chocolate for attendees to enjoy while we unburden ourselves, talk and share our stories. 

Find out more about MixUp:
You can find how to join Mix Up at and

Out in the Bay

Out in the Bay support the 2S LGBTQI community and help raise awareness around drug and alcohol misuse, sexuality, sexual health issues and gender identity. They also provide specialist support and advice through their one-to-one sessions, awareness training, and social groups.

Find out more about Out in the Bay via their website.

People Come First

People Come First is a self-advocacy group run by and for people with learning disabilities. We meet once a month and provide peer support and information about issues that are important to them.  

People with learning disabilities are one of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in society, and many people are lonely and reliant on family or carers for company and support. Our group gives people the space to make friends, and to discuss issues that are important in their lives in an independent space. If issues arise which need more 1:1 advocacy support, we can refer them to Impact Advocacy’s 1:1 issue based team. This provides vulnerable people with learning disabilities who are often disempowered, with a voice and some control over their lives. 

We are using NSUN’s grant to pay for our meeting space, refreshments and stationary costs. This enables us to continue providing a regular local meeting for people with learning disabilities in Horsham. 

Our group does not have its own social media account, but we do use Impact Advocacy’s Facebook @ImpactAdvocacy 

Contact email: 

Founder and Service Lead Chris Williams

Our vision is to promote emotional, and physical wellbeing by providing practical help and support so everyone living with HIV can live healthy active lives, free from stigma and prejudice. 

We provide FREE online support to anyone over the age of 16 who is living with or affected by HIV across the UK. Having the opportunity to talk to someone else who is also living with HIV is very powerful and recognised by experts and clinicians as a vital part of modern HIV care. 

We believe it is important that HIV negative partners, family members, close friends and carers of people living with HIV are given to up-to-date information and can also access HIV support. Like any life changing health event, having the support of loved ones and those closest to them is so important and can make a real difference at a very difficult time.  

Our wider aim is to support people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV and poor sexual health. Improving knowledge of modern methods of HIV prevention is vital if we’re to end the transmission of HIV by 2030. 

We will use the grant to recruit and train 2 new peer support volunteers to ensure they are fully equipped to deliver online peer support in the context of HIV. An important part of this training is to ensure our volunteers feel confident to support people living with HIV who also experience mental ill-health.   

Each volunteer will be provided with basic peer mentor training, mental health first aid training and bespoke training to deliver high quality peer support using a range of online platforms and by phone.  

By recruiting and training 2 new peer support volunteers the team will grow from a headcount of 3 to 5 which will substantially improve our capacity to deliver UK wide peer support.  

Find out more about PlusHealth:
PlusHealth website


Proud North London

Proud North London is a group for young people who identify as LGBT+, where they have a safe and supportive environment that enables them to be their authentic selves. 

The group meets on a weekly basis and are able to access peer support along with professional support from youth workers.  The group is youth-led and they develop a curriculum every term to cover the issues that they have chosen. 

The group participates in topical discussions, exhibitions, outdoor activities, life skills and pride events.  The group also puts on halloween experiences for the community in which they live, enabling them to develop skills in confidence and overcome anxiety issues. 

The grant will be used for a projector, so that they are able to watch documentaries and movies that are related to the topics they want to discuss.  Part of the grant is then used for the young people to be expressive in their identities, Makeup for those who identify as trans females and are unable to access that resource from other environments; and Art Materials to produce pieces of art for exhibitions and freedom of expression. These resources will enable the young people to help come to terms with some of the issues they face, help to overcome any trauma they might be experiencing from bullying, and helping to promote positive health and well-being. 

Find out more about Proud North London:
Proud North London website
Twitter: @ProudNLondon

Radical Rhizomes

Radical Rhizomes (RR) is Brighton & Hove’s only regular social and support network for QTIBIPoC (Queer, Trans & Intersex Black, Indigenous & People of Colour). It is led by and for QTIBIPoC and is a project which aims to:  
– create a safe and supportive social space for QTIPoC which otherwise wouldn’t exist 
– increase visibility of QTIPoC community to increase confidence and a sense of agency 
– decrease social isolation and increase health and wellbeing among QTIPoC  

RR offers a holistic programme of social, creative & wellbeing activities designed to build community, reduce the social isolation many QTIBIPoC face & promote individual well-being, helping to boost confidence and develop skills. Fortnightly meet-ups offer the chance for QTIBIPOC to meet, make connections, take part in affirming activities & share healthy meals, ensuring members needn’t choose between eating at home and engaging with the community.  

Find out more about Radical Rhizomes on their website.

Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SAYiT)

(SAYiT) provide emotional wellbeing support for LGBTQ+ young people in Sheffield. This includes practical support for LGBTQ+ young people, hosting a parent and carer group, and providing trainings to help organisations improve knowledge and address discrimination.

Find out more about SAYiT on their website.

Sheffield Maternity Cooperative

Sheffield Maternity Cooperative is a collective of birth workers and midwives who are committed to culturally competent and safe healthcare for all. We support people and families through pregnancy, birth, abortion, baby loss and early parenthood through peer support groups, antenatal education, one to one work and more.  

Our grant from NSUN Sustaining Spaces will be used to support peer support groups for black and brown folk who have experienced abortion and baby loss. These support groups are held online by people with lived experience of these things, and are free to attend.  

Find out more about Sheffield Maternity Cooperative:
Sheffield Maternity Cooperative website


Stand Together And Recover (STAR) Blackpool

Stand Together And Recover (STAR Blackpool) is a unique peer lead charity running in Blackpool dedicated to running peer support sessions and group for anyone over the age of 18. We run 4 sessions a week and have up to 80 members per week.  

The grant that NSUN gave to us has helped to keep us going for the next few months to ease the pressure on paying rent so that we could concentrate on starting up our outside project which will cost a lot to achieve, we want to say a massive thank you to you guys for supporting us as a small charity it means a lot!  

Find out more about STAR Blackpool:
STAR Blackpool website


Survivors’ Poetry

Survivors’ Poetry is a registered charity and was created in 1991. We have an illustrious track record in creating safe performance spaces for Survivors of mental distress to read and perform our poetry and music. We also have a free quarterly newsletter. Since the pandemic hit we have been meeting monthly on zoom to continue to connect and share our work in a lively, empathetic and supportive atmosphere. This has brought an international dimension to our work and new members are joining all the time, all Survivors are extremely welcome. Huge thanks to NSUN for funding our Zoom licence for three years to enable this to happen. See more about Survivors’ Poetry on our Facebook page Survivors’ Poetry Gigs or email our Events Coordinator Debbie at 

Photos: Lawrence Renee

The Outside Project

The Outside Project is an LGBTQ+ Community Shelter, Centre, and Domestic Abuse Refuge in response to those within the LGBTQ+ community who feel endangered, who are homeless, ‘hidden’ homeless and feel that they are on the outside of services due to historical and present prejudice in society and in their homes.

Find out more about The Outside Project via their website.


TransSober Is a community peer support drop-in group for the TNBI community by the TNBI community. It’s open to all from the community who feel they would benefit from attending a support group around drug and alcohol use or feel it would benefit them to continue to live their life without drugs and alcohol. All facilitators have genuine life experiences, are a part of the community, and are proud to say we now all live an alcohol and drug free life. We are passionate about sharing life experiences and skills to support others. TransSober runs 3 in person drop-ins in Brighton. We provide free sanitary products and condoms to anyone in need. We offer one to one help, support & signposting via our TransSupport to anyone from the community who feels drug and alcohol use is impacting on their life. We support and signpost with things such as transitioning, deed polls, benefits, employment, mental heath, formfilling etc   

We have Sober community events and courses. 

We have an Instagram open to everyone where we post daily motivations and information about living drug and alcohol free, plus regular updates of what TransSober is doing. 

Funding grant money form NSUN has been used for 2 things:   

To purchase a laptop so we can take our community support groups online. The laptop will also be used when doing one to one work such as form filling etc. via the TransSupport service.  

We are setting up well-being recovery bags with donations from companies such as Lush and Bird & Blend tea, Rainbow over Bute, Rolling Rainbow Crafts.  These donations include things like soap bars, bath bombs and toiletries, therapeutic colouring books and pencils, healthy foods, herbal teas, cosy socks, snacks, vouchers for tea and coffee at the local LGBTQI+ café etc. We will offer well-being recovery bags to the people that come to our group and use our services, as we know an act of kindness can go a long way, give people a sense of well-being and make them feel valued. This is important for people that are struggling with drugs and alcohol issues. Something positive and an act of kindness can have a positive effect on well-being, welfare and mental health, plus the bags promote activities other than things that involve drugs and alcohol.   

Find out more about TransSober:
TransSober website

Facebook: TransSober and Vernon TransSober
Instagram: @vernon_transsober

WOC Azadi

The WOC Azadi Collective is a grassroots project rooted in Black, Indigenous and Global feminisms, that is led by and for Women of Colour (WOC). It offers a transformative space for WOC to come together and work in solidarity to heal and liberate ourselves from patriarchy, white supremacy and colonialism. Our work is deeply embedded in abolition theory, exploring and implementing the connections between liberation theory and practice, and the need to provide appropriate healing justice care for racialized women. 

We recognise that in order for WOC’s needs to be met, we must work to create safety, belonging and dignity for our community and to resource justice. We understand that in order for us to be able to heal and liberate ourselves from oppression, we need to look beyond carceral systems of punishment and care that uphold oppressive systems and are sites of violence for us. 

Our work de-centers whiteness, colonialism and patriarchy, and recognises the harm that is caused to WOC by these systems. Taking learning from radical Black and global feminisms and indigenous ancestral wisdom, we use a trauma informed approach and an intersectional framework throughout our work. Remembering that there are no “single issue struggles”, we seek to deepen our ways of seeing and feeling. We bear witness to the multiple traumas that WOC are subjected to and acknowledge how these intersect and marginalise us further.  

WOC Azadi Collective’s aim is to create alternative systems of learning and care for WOC based on radical and revolutionary love, transformative justice and the vision that a radically alternative future, safe from interpersonal and structural violence is possible. 

NSUN’s grant will allow us to facilitate workshops and events using creative and dynamic healing modalities to deliver psychoeducational and holistic group support to WOC, trans women of colour and non binary people of colour. 

Our sessions will explore how we can find ways to heal ourselves from harm, to support the building of community and to deepen our understanding of what it means to be in relationship with each other. We will work with WOC to re-imagine what the possibilities of a radically alternative society can offer us and how collectively, we can heal, and work in solidarity towards achieving transformative justice and liberation for ourselves, and for each other.  

Despite the harm we are subjected to, we also recognise that our traumas do not define who we are. We are unapologetic for wanting to occupy space and for wanting to honour our lives, and our events will be intentional spaces where we will cultivate and celebrate our uniqueness, love and joys. 

Find out more about WOC Azadi:
Facebook: wocasazicollective
Twitter: @WOCAzadi

Women of Colour Peer Support Group

The WOC group was set up to respond to needs and mental health support for women from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic group. Women from BAME group have been known to have additional pressures due to racial discrimination among other negative experiences leading to mental health challenges. The WOC online group provides peer support and a non threatening, safe and non judgemental space for the members and services users. Often there is a gap and a long wait for people to receive mental health diagnosis and treatment. Since our peer groups do not depend on referrals, they can be accessed easily by service users. The women validate each other in the process and offer reflections based on their own lived experience. It reduces the sense of isolation that comes with mental health challenges. We also have modules under different topics of positive mental health that the group reads through and discusses. It is a space to listen, to be heard, to signpost and be present in solidarity with each other having common struggles.  

The grant will help to sustain the Zoom subscription that is needed to run the online group to begin with. It will be used for Group Facilitators/volunteers training while recruiting as well as ongoing Volunteer wellbeing support. We provide regular supervision and reflective practice for the facilitators of the group on an ongoing basis. It is also used for promotional materials of the group.  

Find out more about Women of Colour Peer Support Group:
Women of Colour Peer Support Group website
Contact email:

Other groups funded were Rotherham Wellness and Wellbeing Through the Arts and Together as One.

More information about the Fund

You can read more information about the Fund below, including the information provided to applying groups (including FAQs), our decision-making process, and the profiles of the grant-making panellists.

More information about the Fund (now closed)

NSUN will be awarding grants of £500-£1000 to those facilitating community spaces where people with shared identities and experiences come together in support of one another’s wellbeing. This may be in the form of peer support, mutual aid or self-help groups, but is not limited to groups defining themselves in this way. 

We are looking to fund groups who are led “by and for” members of communities, sharing experiences or identities with those they are creating spaces for. These groups are sometimes called “user-led groups”, but again, groups may not define themselves in that way.

We recognise that much of this work, particularly amongst communities facing various forms of marginalisation and oppression, is being done in order to create safe, affirming spaces of connection and healing. This fund aims to support the needs of those involved and the continuation of these spaces, whether they are local or online.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Your group must be in England and must be facilitating community spaces where people with shared identities and experiences come together in support of one another’s wellbeing 
  • Your group must be benefitting people or communities who live with mental ill-health, trauma and distress 
  • Your group must take place in a community setting  

We will be prioritising applications from: 

  • Groups led by and for people from racialised communities/people of colour 
  • Groups led by and for young people (approximately defined as 18-25)
  • Groups led by and for people from LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) and QTIBPOC (queer, trans or intersex Black people and people of colour) communities

The main deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday the 16th of September 2022

This fund is supported by Mind’s PeerFest programme

peerfest logo - colourful text with a black border


How to apply

You can apply via our online form, which is linked above (and can be accessed here), or you can download the form as a Word document and send the completed document to

How much can I apply for? 

You can apply for any amount between £500 and £1000. Please apply for what you need! In the application, we’ll ask for a breakdown of how you want to spend the money.  

Which groups will you prioritise? 

We will prioritise applications from groups led by and for: 

  • People from racialised communities/people of colour 
  • LGBTQ+ and QTIPOC communities 
  • young people (approximately defined as 18-25) 

We may still fund groups who are not within those categories. 

What can I apply for?  

You can apply for money that will help you sustain your group. This might include costs like Zoom or other tech subscriptions; rent for space; technology such as tablets or laptops; refreshments and food for your meetings or events; masks or other PPE; materials for your activities (art supplies etc); publicity costs; staff costs; volunteer and group member expenses (eg travel costs). This isn’t an exhaustive list and you may have other needs! 

Successful applications will express clearly why the money is needed for the groups, and who it will help. If you are still in doubt as to whether your group should apply to this fund, please email us at 

What is your process? 

We anticipate a high number of applications. We will not be able to fund every application, and we will be making funding decisions in the following way. 

Once you apply, our grants officers (profiles below) will review each application and shortlist accordingly. Only applications which meet the following criteria will be shortlisted:  

  • Your group must be England and must be running or facilitating community spaces where people with shared identities and experiences come together in support of one another’s wellbeing 
  • Your group must be benefitting people or communities who live with mental ill-health, trauma and distress 
  • Your group must take place in a community setting 

If you’re not shortlisted, we’ll let you know quickly. If you are shortlisted, a grants officer will be in touch to arrange a phone call. We can only put forward applications after this call.

In the phone call we’ll talk about your project in more depth. The grants officers will make notes, and these notes and your application will be passed to our grants panel, who will meet weekly to make decisions. You can find out who is on our grants panel and how they make decisions below. 

We aim to give responses within a few weeks of your application being submitted. 

We will then send successful applicants a grant agreement which will need to be signed and returned (over email).  

I need help with the application form 

You can email or call us at 020 7820 8982 and we will do what we can to support you filling in the application form. 

We’re based outside of England. Can we apply? 

This fund is only open to groups working in England, as that is where NSUN carries out its work. However, as many groups are now online, we understand that group members may be based in other nations, and that is fine. Please contact us at if you have any questions about this. 

We’ve previously been funded by NSUN. Can we apply?

You can apply again, and you may be successful. However, applicants who have previously been funded will be reviewed together by the panel towards the end of the grants process. This means that you have a slightly lower chance of receiving funding, and that you will wait a little bit longer than other applicants. This is so that we make sure that most of our funding goes to people we haven’t funded before. 

When does the grant need to be spent?

The grant money should be spent by the end of March 2023. 

How can I help support the fund?

If you are an ally to grassroots groups and their work supporting their communities and are able to make a donation to boost our small grants funding pot for user-led groups, you can do so via our donations form, selecting ‘NSUN Small Grants Fund’ as the donation purpose.  

How we make decisions 

Questions we ask ourselves

These five questions are how we explore whether an applicant is a good fit for us to fund. There isn’t a scoring system, and these questions are meant to guide discussion rather than be strict criteria. 

  • Is it user-led mental health work? 
  • Is it a space where people bring their experiences to support others? 
  • Is it within our priority funding areas? 
  • Will anyone else fund this, or can we do something no one else can? 
  • Does it challenge us and open us up to new learning?  

Who is involved?

Grant-making panels will meet regularly throughout the process to consider applications shortlisted by grants officers, NSUN team members Alaina Heath and Ruairi White (information about the role of the grants officers below).

The panel has rotating members, including representatives from NSUN (Akiko Hart, CEO, and NSUN Trustees Alisdair Cameron, Amy Rushton, Amy Palmer and Tasha Suratwala – profiles can be found on the Our People page). The panels also have two representatives from the NSUN membership, Nkechi and Raheem Diaz, and two representatives from Mind’s PeerFest programme, Clare Ockwell and June Sadd – their profiles are below.

What do the grants officers do?

NSUN team members Alaina Heath and Ruairi White are the grants officers for Sustaining Spaces. This means they are processing the applications as they come in, and shortlisting those that are most connected to the aims and priorities of the fund. They are then calling shortlisted applicants to learn more about their groups. During these conversations they’ll be taking notes to support applications for when they go to the panel.

The phone calls are about us gaining a deeper understanding about the groups and what they need the funding for. This is not about interviewing people but is an opportunity for applicants to communicate the importance of their work so we can detail this for the panels consideration, and help applicants really get their message across.

Grant-making panellist profiles

Clare Ockwell

A picture of Clare, who is wearing a blue dress over a purple t-shirt, and is standing in a group of people

Clare Ockwell has used mental health services intermittently since childhood and as a result decided she needed to do her bit to try to improve things for those who would need that support in the future. She has served as a Trustee for 3 different mental health charities but did most of her work as part of the CAPITAL Project Trust, a West Sussex based user led charity which she ended up running for 10 years during which she was instrumental in developing one of the 1st inpatient peer support projects in the country and  an accompanying level 4 peer support training to develop the workforce. This led to engagement with Mind’s Peerfest. 

Following semi-retirement in 2019 Clare became a deputy foodbank manager and remained actively involved in mental health peer support, improving co-production and research. To do these effectively Clare remains very much reliant on her own peer support network, so she remains strongly committed to the principle of mutual support. 

June Sadd

A photo of June, who wears glasses and is wearing a white, red and grey patterned jumper against a plain beige background

June Sadd, an independent survivor consultant and activist, is a researcher in the fields of health and social care, an educator of social work students and provides training to the voluntary and statutory sectors.  

It is important to note that June’s personal experiences as a survivor of the psychiatric system and as a member of the Black and other minority ethnic communities informs all her work.

Her research work has produced outcomes, particularly in the two areas of Peer Support and Mental Health Advocacy.  June is a published author of articles and reports based on fieldwork and data analysis in her research.   


A photo of Nkechi, who is wearing a blue dress, sat amongst some greenery

Nkechi is a student in her early 20s with over 8 years of experience within the third and charity sectors. She has also held employment as a software engineer and holds and interest in how technology can be used to address contemporary social issues around inequality and inequity.

She has a special interest and experience within youth and survivor led programmes, addressing gender-based violence and economic exploitation.

At present she sits in the racial equity steering group at Mind, is a trustee for Women Working Worldwide, and volunteers with Chayn. Outside of these commitments she enjoys running, cycling, and visiting art galleries 

Raheem Diaz

A picture of Raheem, who is wearing a dark jumper over a white shirt and who wears glasses, smiling at the camera against a plain beige background

Raheem is a freelance access advisor, anti-ableism trainer and speaker. He has been involved in community organising for over 6 years, and is a trustee of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative.

Raheem is happiest when in “mad” BPOC community, and is very much looking forward to the abolition of psychiatry.