Prince Charles launched the Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) in 2010 with a mission to support the people who care for the countryside.
Since then, it has helped fund training for more than 7,000 young people, many through Young Farmers Clubs, as the two examples here demonstrate.
Jenni Carthew, training coordinator for Cornwall Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (FYFC), applied for a PCF grant and was determined to keep trying until she succeeded.
She says: “We were told if we did not manage to secure funding, we would be given feedback on how to improve our application next time. So this was the plan.
“We did not expect to fall lucky the first time around.”
Before applying, Jenni spoke to Derbyshire FYFC, as it had twice secured funds for health and safety and skills training.
“They basically told me to go for it, as long as we had a detailed plan,” Jenni says.
“We literally had nothing to lose by trying, so, with Kate and Kelly in the YFC office, we put a detailed application together and hoped for the best.
“A lot of our members are in seasonal work and cannot afford to take part in the training courses we organise through Young Farmers.
“For a lot of members working on family farms, they do not want to spend their money on training themselves as they would rather put their money into the farm.
The federation surveyed its members to see what sort of training they wanted, with many showing an interest in health and safety and skills training.
Jenni then sent the application off, along with their findings, at the beginning of last November, and was given the good news as an early Christmas present.
“We were lucky enough to receive the full amount we applied for, which was £40,000.
“With this money we hope to offer 192 members with 25 per cent discounted training courses.
“Our hope is to help sustain rural businesses in Cornwall and to help our members with employment prospects in the future.
Application forms have now been sent to all Cornwall YFC members and the first round of training is set to start in February.
“This funding will make such a difference to our members. They received no funding for training for at least three years now, and have been continuously asking whether there were any subsidised courses and we had to turn them down.
“Now we can happily say yes, and we look forward to seeing them making the most of YFC membership and help them build a better future for the industry.”
Herefordshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, which has secured funds twice, found the PCF by chance in 2012 when its management committee chairman, Matt Price, logged on to Twitter one evening.
Matt says: “I rarely use Twitter, but I happened to be scrolling through when I saw a tweet stating it was the last chance to apply for PCF funding.
“I looked into it and decided this was something we could do. Fast forward through a hectic and stressful five days, and we had managed to write an application and send it off to PCF, just in the nick of time.
“When PCF’s director Claire Saunders called me a few months later, she explained the high standard of applications and the lack of available funding available to young farmers through other grant schemes. I immediately thought this is the ‘letting them down gently’ phone call.
“But she finished by saying we had successfully secured funding. I was so surprised I had to ask her to repeat herself.”
Matt applied for funds to help the federation support its members with training grants.
“The training was all member-driven so, rather than providing a list of training courses we could offer, we asked members to come to us with details of a course they were interested in."
These courses included health and safety at work, agricultural business administration, car and trailer tests, sheep shearing and chainsaw training.
“We offered a maximum of 70 per cent funding for each course, up to a cost of £300. This meant we could help members wanting to go to university by offering a £300 payment towards their fees, or those who wanted to improve their shearing skills by offering a full 70 per cent payment grant.
“Ensuring members still paid for at least 30 per cent gave them a bit of ownership and pride in their course.”
Having won funding in 2012, Herefordshire FYFC has now come to the end of its first three-year project, which helped more than 110 young people.
But after this success, the federation applied again at the end of last year and were delighted to be offered another £50,000 towards further training.
The new project sees the federation team up with Herefordshire Rural Hub offering financial support to a combined membership of more than 2,000 people.
“We wanted to offer more members the chance to receive training to improve their skills, and we did not want to turn any members away.
“I would encourage any YFC to apply for a PCF grant because if you give a Young Farmer £300 today to spend on training, you are providing them with skills which will last a lifetime.”
PCF director Claire Saunders says there is an increased requirement for farmers to develop new and specific set of skills in order to operate efficiently.
She offered these top tips for applying for PCF funding:
The more information included in your application the better as it helps get a clear idea of what clubs are offering
We need to see commitment from both sides. This is often shown by members paying a percentage of the course on top of our contribution
We receive lots of applications in each round and many are turned down as they do not fit our criteria.
If you are not confident or unsure if your activity fits our criteria, just ring us and ask.
We would rather an applicant called us before they spent a huge amount of time on the application only to find it was not eligible all along
We love to see new and innovative ideas, and we welcome collaboration. Successful applications stand out because the information they give clearly shows the need, how funding will be used and the outcomes
How will the 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
Like many funders, we are looking for impact. It is not all about big numbers – if your activity supports a few people but in a sustained, genuine way, this is really attractive to us. Please do not overstate the potential impact.
- 6,300 farm businesses
- 2,820 rural enterprises
- 350 rural communities
- 7,000 young people
- 52,000 individuals
Applications for the next round of funding will open in early March 2016.
Keep an eye on the Prince's Countryside Fund website for information and to view the eligibility and guidance documents.