Grand Ideas Fund in action

Over the past year, through the Grand Ideas Fund, Sanctuary Housing has funded around 56 community projects from across the country, ranging from community groups and charities to residents’ groups and voluntary organisations.

Some of the projects Sanctuary's Grand Ideas Fund has helped

To apply for the Grand Ideas Fund, please complete the online application form.

Here is a selection of projects we’ve supported to give you a flavour of our investment in communities:


Aspiring CIC – Gresley Road Social Activities

Project Aim

To reduce isolation, improve memory skills and general health and wellbeing for residents through the delivery of activities

Total number of beneficiaries



Sanctuary’s Grand Ideas Fund enabled Aspiring CIC to deliver a variety of social activities to the residents of Gresley Road retirement living scheme in Doncaster over the course of six months. These included a 1940’s street party, a Halloween party and a ‘Vintage Christmas’ party. Residents also got involved in a recipe collection which saw them create their own book featuring their favourite recipes, as well as some from family and friends. Raffles were held at each event and these helped towards the running costs.

1940’s street party

The scheme set up long tables with bunting, vintage crockery, cake stands and memorabilia items from that era, and residents were invited to dress up in period costume. The event started with afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea and coffee served. Then everyone took part in a quiz with questions typical of the 1940s, followed by memory lane bingo and music from the era. Staff asked residents to pick one of the memorabilia items and share any memories they may have evoked.

Aspiring CIC Doncaster 1940's street party

Halloween party

Residents all went to town with their outfits for this party, donned with wigs, hats, broomsticks and scary make up. A face painter attended and shared a few magic tricks while staff set up a photo booth for everyone to enjoy, following which a game of beetle was facilitated. Pie and peas were served up providing the perfect meal on the cold evening.

A Vintage Christmas party

This event was held on a Friday evening before Christmas and was well attended. Residents were entertained by vintage singer Paula who sang an array of songs and, during the interval, went around the room to gather song choices. By the end of the evening everyone in the room was singing along, clapping their hands and a few even got up for a dance. The evening was finished off with a lively version of Slade’s Merry Christmas.

Thanks to this Grand Ideas project…

Gresley Road resident Sheila is now volunteering her time to support the scheme’s events. She helps at 1- 2 per month and serves the tea and coffee, assists with the food preparation and generally talks to the guests to make them feel welcome and valued.


Aspiring CIC – Brierley Road Social Activities

Project Aim 

To reduce isolation, improve memory skills and improve general health and wellbeing for residents through the delivery of activities

Total number of beneficiaries 



Thanks to Sanctuary’s funding to Aspiring CIC, residents at Sanctuary’s Brierley Road retirement scheme in Rotherham were treated to a variety of social activities over the course of six months. These included a Fabulous Fifties afternoon, a 1960s party and a 1940s street party which included entertainment, sandwiches and cakes.

1940’s street party

The party began with an afternoon tea served on beautiful vintage crockery. Following tea, the residents were entertained by vintage singer Paula dressed in 1940s costume and got the crowd singing along to post war songs while waving their union jack flags.

Fabulous Fifties

As with the 1940s party a tea was served, following which residents played a game of memory lane bingo where music from the 50s replaced some of the numbers on the cards. Residents joined in by singing along, tapping their feet, clapping their hands and hand jiving. At the end of the session residents were asked to share memories that were evoked by some of the vintage items on the memorabilia table. A gazunder and dolly tub proved particularly popular.

Swinging 60s party

Residents were entertained by Jon Alex who sang and played guitar to music from the 60s. This was the busiest of the three events but everyone participated well and had a great afternoon.


North Laines Area Reintegration Project

Project Aim

To support homeless people in supported living accommodation in the North Laines area of Brighton to integrate into the local community.

Total number of beneficiaries


Key figures

91% of people who took part reported they learned new skills through the workshops while 88% said engaging with Creative Future workshops helped them to get together with people in their community and feel like they had someone to talk to.


Creative Future delivered its creative arts project, Active Communities, to the homeless people as a vehicle for engagement and to provide mentoring to assist participants to progress to other activities in the future.

There were various aspects of this project delivered, including:

  • A bespoke exhibition featuring 13 local artists at Sanctuary’s North Road scheme which publicised the project, Sanctuary and Creative Future’s services
  • Mentoring for homeless people – across the project term, 120 hours of 1:1 mentoring was provided for 12 people.
  • Workshops -205 hours of workshops, with 18 courses/topics, have been held, including art and writing drop in.

The creative future exhibition at Sanctuary's North Road scheme.

Case study

PT has multiple diagnoses and significant mental health issues, alongside long-term unemployment. After regularly attending the project he was asked to be part of the North Road exhibition which inspired him to create new work using new techniques. PT was in regular contact to discuss his creative projects, but also consistently discusses his current mental health issues, reducing support due to service cuts and how this exacerbates his struggles. In every contact he said “Creative Future is my entire support structure right now”.



Gallows Close Centre Summer Activities

Project Aim

To offer free activities for children and young people based at the Gallows Close Centre, Scarborough.

Total number of beneficiaries



Thanks to Sanctuary’s funding, staff at Gallows Close Centre were able to host a summer club consisting of a whole range of free activities for the young people. Designed to develop the skills of participants, the programme consisted of something for everyone, including craft workshops, messy cake decorating, outdoor games, science workshop, first aid, kite building. A number of educational day trips were organised, taking the children to Eden Camp, Playdale Farm and Sewerby Hall.

The children taking part in a science workshop during their summer club.

Sewerby Hall visit

Local resident Mathew, aged 9, was excited to visit Sewerby Hall and he was really interested to find out more about Amy Johnson, the first lady to fly a plane. The group were given a history tour of the grounds when two of the staff changed into different characters, one being Mona Lisa. Next, the children were shown how to make a simple propeller using a paper clip and rubber band and were also taught how to make a human plane.



Voluntary and Community Action East Cambridgeshire 

Helping Hands Gardening Programme

Project Aim

To provide gardening services using a team of volunteers who may experience barriers to employment or training, and to expand the programme to include clearance services.

Total number of beneficiaries 



The Helping Hands Gardening Programme, which received funding from Sanctuary and is managed by Voluntary and Community Action East Cambridgeshire (VCAEC), supports applicants in Ely with free training and valuable work experience that helps to make them more employable.  This includes learning key skills needed to work in the gardening services industry, ranging from maintenance to clearing gardens and green spaces.

A volunteer at the Helping Hands Gardening Programme.

Results of the funding…

Alvin Feetham joined the Helping Hands project as a volunteer owing to his ongoing interest in gardening and he wanted to gain more experience. In addition to the gardening, the clearance work was also important to his role as the elderly people they support did not have anyone else to help them. Alvin has now been taken on as an employee of the project working 15 hours per week doing a job share with the project supervisor. He is also developing his own gardening business.

More volunteers at the Helping Hands project

Graham McCann started volunteering for Helping Hands when he was not able to work owing to his health. He still wanted a challenge rather than staying at home and so now volunteers three days per week on the gardening team. The jobs are never the same and can include grass cutting, weeding, painting or repairing fences.


Health and Wellbeing sessions in Normacot

Project Aim

To reduce the isolation amongst females in the Normacot area by inviting them to regular sessions around health and wellbeing.

Total number of beneficiaries



Organised by Stoke-on-Trent community-led project My Community Matters, the sessions were aimed at two different age groups to encourage health and wellbeing awareness, and improve physical skills and mental health.

The first group was created to provide young girls from eight years upwards, and their families, with a safe environment to meet, socialise and learn new skills. Ten sessions were held weekly for two hours and offered youngsters the chance to try their hand at crafts, jewellery making and glass painting.

youngsters taking part in craft sessions

The second group catered for women who had expressed an interest in sewing and meeting new people in a safe environment. They received six two hour weekly sessions of sewing classes.

My Community Matters continue to support the residents who attended the sessions to build on their skills and encourage them to continue to share these with others in the community.


There is very little opportunity to socialise within Normacot and engagement is difficult due to the many different nationalities and language barriers, so these types of sessions are important. It helped to reduce the feeling of isolation by widening residents’ social circles and helping them meet new people. It also supported them in building stronger links with the community while providing an interest and challenge.


Willows Children’s First Aid for Parents

Project Aim

To provide ‘Introduction to Paediatric First Aid’ course to Willows Children’s centre families and Sanctuary residents and encourage parents to learn new skills and build confidence.

Total number of beneficiaries



Delivered by APW Training, three paediatric first aid sessions took place at the Willows Children’s Centre using Sanctuary’s funding. Designed to raise awareness of paediatric first aid with local parents, including those living in Sanctuary Housing homes, the sessions also encouraged more families to engage with children’s centres and raise awareness of opportunities for parents and children.

One of the first aid sessions at the Willows Children's centre


The courses were very well received in the community and raised awareness that children’s centres are used for adult education and are open for families to learn new skills. They were all attended by men and women of various ages and were completely multi-cultural, offering equal opportunities.

While 98% of people who attended said they strongly agreed they had learnt something new, others commented on how satisfied they were with the course and impressed that, thanks to Sanctuary’s funding, was free to attend.

Comments from the feedback forms included: