Applications for the Weston Charity Awards 2022 are officially open thanks to a partnership between The Garfield Weston Foundation and its charity partner, Pilotlight.

Now in its eighth year, the awards offer a package of support worth over £22,000 to small charities in the North of England, the Midlands, and Wales.

Unrestricted grants of £6,500 are available for up to 20 ambitious charities who will use the cash contributions to instigate strategic change and accelerate innovative growth. Winning applicants also gain free access to the Pilotlight 360 programme – a ten-month package of leadership coaching worth an estimated £16,000.

The launch comes as small charities continue to face extreme pressures following the global pandemic. Findings from the recent Charity Commission COVID-19 Survey 2021 show that nearly all charities questioned (91%) – using a sample of 1,966 registered charities in England and Wales – experienced some negative impact from COVID-19. Over half (62%) anticipate a threat to their charity’s financial viability in the next 12 months.

Award winners will receive leadership mentoring from four senior professionals across diverse private and public sector organisations. These empathetic “Pilotlighters” offer in-depth expert guidance on everything from creative operational improvements and efficiencies to sustainable long-term business strategies.

Winning charities will also access:

· collaborative opportunities and events through Pilotlight’s network of UK charities.

· two connect sessions with other award recipients to share best practice.

· a celebratory event for all award-winners on conclusion of the programme.

· the enhanced profile associated with receiving this award grant for excellence.

The call for applications is open to registered charities working with beneficiaries in the North of England, the Midlands, and Wales and which specialise in the fields of Community, Welfare or Youth. Charities with at least one paid full-time member of staff in a leadership position and an income of less than £5 million per year are eligible to apply.

Philippa Charles, Director of The Garfield Weston Foundation, said:

“Now more than ever, charities are seeking support to ensure a robust strategic future. We know that although good charities are keen to spend time on long-term planning, they are often limited by resources and staffing, even more so during this period of economic recovery.

“The Garfield Weston Foundation has partnered with Pilotlight to change this through the innovative Weston Charity Awards. These exciting Award grants offer an unrivalled package of thought-provoking leadership coaching and vital funding to nurture talent and amplify a charity’s potential impact.

“Successful award winners can receive the support needed to bounce back from COVID-19 and enhance their in-house leadership skills, establish long-term business plans, and take their organisations to the next level of operations.”

Last year’s Weston Charity Awards winners provided critical services to over 72,000 people. The charities work across a variety of areas including domestic violence, refugee action, employability skills, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) theatre, physical impairment or mental health support, sports and activity centres, and homelessness among other causes.

Sarah Jones, CEO of Mencap Liverpool & Sefton and former Weston Charity Award winner, said:

“The Weston Charity Awards exceeded my expectations and has been an invaluable process for me. I’ve been blessed with a great team of Pilotlighters. I’m not sure if I’d still be CEO without the programme.”

Gavin Hawkey, Director, Cardiff City FC Community Foundation said:

“The support has been invaluable. The sessions have helped me identify some key operational improvements and commit to implementing those changes. Improvements I’m confident will make a huge difference to our performance and ultimately benefit our beneficiaries.”

Applications are now open and will be reviewed following the deadline of 5pm on 7th January 2022. Supplementary information may be sought by the end of January for shortlisting by a judging panel during February – April. A rigorous selection process is required to handpick the very best third sector organisations worthy of recognition for their achievements. The finalists will be announced in June 2022.

For further information about the awards grants and full entry criteria, please visit: