Blue Spaces - Wales

Q&A webinar transcript


  • Simon Wightman, Funding Manager - Our Natural World
  • Jenny Wheeldon, Freshwater Partnerships Development Manager
  • Luna Dizon, Communications Manager (off screen, asking questions from attendees)

Welcome and housekeeping

Simon Wightman

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm really pleased to have so many of you here today. Welcome to the webinar, where we'll be introducing the Esmée Blue Spaces Wales programme. My name is Simon Wightman. I'm a funding manager under the Our Natural World programme at Esmée, and I'm here with my colleague Jenny, who will be able to share a bit more detail about the programme.

My colleagues Luna and Chebet are on hand in the background to help with the Q&A process. And also, to help me when, inevitably, leaving the technology in my hands always goes wrong. So, we're really grateful to have them as well. For accessibility, we have Bridget, who will be providing BSL interpretation, and we've asked the speakers to describe themselves and where they are.

Simon Wightman

So I'm Simon. I'm a tall man with a green shirt, checked shirt and glasses and I'm in a fairly feature-less meeting room here at Esmée HQ. Jenny, do you want to just give yourself a quick audio description?

Jenny Wheeldon

Yeah, I'm Jenny Wheeldon. I'm the Freshwater Project Development Manager. And I'm a small wavy-haired woman. Also in a checkered shirt, I think we're still trying to kid ourselves that we work outside.

Simon Wightman

And a few details and practicalities before we start. Live captioning is available for the session. I think Luna has shared instructions on the chat, and there's a link, you can click to see the captions in a separate window. You can also click the live transcript button at the bottom of your window to see them on Zoom.

You can post questions at any point using the Q&A facility. If you do have questions that you'd like to come to our attention so that we answer them within the session, please do use that Q&A facility rather than the chat. But do feel free to use the chat for anything else.

Most of you will have used the Q&A facility before but you can up score questions that someone else is asking if you want to bring them to the top of the list and make sure that we get to them in the time we've got available. And you can do that by clicking on the thumbs up icon next to the question.

Please note, if you have any specific questions that relate to the technical aspect of your project, do feel free to get in touch with us afterwards, or through the chat just so that we can use the limited amount of time on questions that are probably applicable to the widest range of people on the call.

And finally, we're recording this webinar and we will share it with the transcript. I'm just going to give a really quick introduction to how we got to where we are.

Blue Spaces - Wales presentation

Slide 2: Developing place-based freshwater partnerships – why?

Simon Wightman

So as most of you will be familiar with Esmée Fairbairn's work, I'm not going to go into it in too much detail. We fund across the environment, arts and social change through three programmes, Our Natural World, which the freshwater interest sits under; Creative Confident Communities, which is looking at work to empower communities to be able to make the change that they want to see within the places that they live and work; and A Fairer Future, which is looking at questions of social justice.

Whilst our freshwater interests sit under Our Natural World programme, you'll see as we go through the Blue Spaces programme, that there's a very strong community element to it. And that connection between communities, the places where they live, and a healthy natural environment informs a lot of the work that we that we do. Within our natural world, we have an interest in farming with nature, fishing, and that's both wild fish and, and aquaculture, with peat soils, with space for nature, and with freshwater. And we've tried to choose the areas where we can work where we think we can really make a difference by applying all of the different tools that a funder like us can use, we hope to push the dial on some of these things or help our partners to do so.

I don't think I need to tell anybody on the call about the importance of freshwater. If we don't sort out the way we manage freshwater environments, I don't think we're going to meet any of our aspirations for overall environmental recovery. Despite this, it's underserved by environmental and philanthropic funders at the moment. The ‘Where The Green Grants Went’ report produced by the Environmental Funders Network showed that only 4% of UK funding from trusts and foundations went to freshwater outcomes. In our view that's slightly out of proportion with the importance of making progress in that area. And it's one of the reasons that it's one of the key areas for us to focus on under our current funding strategy.

In 2021, we commissioned Cardiff water research institute to undertake some research about how who was doing what on freshwater. And what some of the key players thought was some of the key priorities to make progress on over the coming years. It's in some sense helped some of our work on our priorities (next slide, Luna).

Slide 3: How likely do you think these actions are to make improvements to freshwaters?

This is one of the slides from that report, showing what actions people thought were most likely to make improvements to freshwater. In response to this, we provide core cost unrestricted funding to a very small number of freshwater organisations. We support some policy and advocacy campaigning and that has included some support for community led campaign groups, which we can't necessarily fund directly. We've also had a focus on citizen science where there are gaps to fill within statutory and private sector monitoring. For example, we’ve funded and are providing funding to the River Fly Programme, Wild Fish Smart Rivers Programme, the anglers monitoring initiative run by the Angling Trust, as well as ZSL’s work in London, to give just a few examples.

But many of the issues that you'll see listed on that chart there are best explored in a place. And that can sometimes be quite difficult for a funder like us, with a fairly small staff and UK remit to really understand where the best opportunities are for exploring some of these issues in particular places and that can be a catchment, or it could be a city. But that's something we think is important and therefore, because we can't be everywhere, we can't fund everywhere, we really thought we needed some additional resource, just to make sure we found out where some of the most exciting work was happening. And that's why we were really fortunate to bring Jenny on board, to help us do that. I'm going to hand over to Jenny now.

Slide 4: Working in partnership, what we want to achieve

Jenny Wheeldon

Thanks, Simon. So Simon has explained the background work that was done by Cardiff University and highlighted some key issues that we want to explore through our funding. And our overall strategic approach is that we want to work in partnership with places that demonstrate the role of freshwater habitats in addressing various pressures to restore and create freshwater habitats, and the recovery of freshwater species to demonstrate novel approaches to understanding health of fresh water. So things like innovations in monitoring, which Simon has mentioned some of, look at different ways of funding, which can include leveraging private investment, and to make sure that we report and share our learning as widely as possible. But also, as a crosscutting theme across all of Esmée’s work we want to address barriers and inequalities in the opportunity to influence, access and enjoy the environment, including fresh water. And we want to make sure that the ways of working will have benefits for projects beyond the end of our funded period.

Slide 5: Our approach

So the way that we're looking to take this forward, and our freshwater work is through the blue spaces programme. And this is an initial two years where my role is to try and help partners develop imaginative place-based partnerships around the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland. So we're going to use a range of ways to do that, to try to help design programmes with our partners to deliver local objectives and share learning. So, in the first two years, we're going to have a number of activities, one of which is around capacity building in local communities and developing a pipeline longer-term projects. And this is very much where the Blue Spaces - Wales call for expressions of interest comes in, very much around that capacity building activity. Because unlike a lot of other funders, we have the flexibility in order to help pay for things like staff time to develop projects, whereas a lot of other funders are very much targeted at the so-called shovel ready type projects, where you've already got to have that ready to go. And there's a real gap there in terms of supporting people to develop their ideas. So we also want to look at new ways of working pilots to test new ways of working with different communities, different ways of funding and financing, mixing and matching. Again, an advantage we have as a funder is that we have quite a lot flexibility about how we can do that. We want to make sure we monitor and evaluate our programme against goals that we have as funders and make sure that we are achieving our impact goals. And the final strand here is that we will do some strategic commissions, which will hopefully help local communities make choices about fresh water. So for example, in England there is a health and wellbeing evidence database that can allow local communities to see where might be most beneficial to target projects. It could be that expanding something like that across UK could be useful. So that's the kind of thing we could look to commission directly.

But the overall aim following this first few years of looking for projects to support and help people build is that we end up with four to six place-based projects across the whole of the UK, so I think it's quite important to be upfront about that ultimately, we're looking for quite a small number of place-based projects. So not all the projects developed that we support will go on to be supported in a second stage. And we want to be very upfront about that. But hopefully the work that is done through Project Development Grant will enable people to be in a much better place to seek additional funds, and to have a clearer idea of where they might want to go in the longer term. (Thanks, Luna.)

Slide 6: Blue Spaces –Wales: open call for ideas

Okay, so this has led us to opening our call for blue spaces in Wales, which is why you're all here. And thank you very much for joining us, we've had a great response. And we should say that this is very much a test for us, we don't often do open calls. So we may not have got it entirely, right. But we want to try to give a give the opportunity to test out slightly different way of doing things. And we decided to do some whales, partly because we know less about the funding scenarios there. And also, we feel that it's a place where there's a lot of potential opportunity. So by going out with this targeted call, we're very much trying to reach beyond the existing networks and partnerships that we already know and work with. And we're looking to test a different approach, we want to get different people involved. So that's why we've changed our usual eligibility criteria and we've changed our expression of interest questions. So we've tried to keep it as simple as possible for people to put in ideas at a really early stage.

And we're very much interested in unusual partnerships and imaginative ways to engage people in protecting and restoring their local fresh waters. But this project development sort of call is very much about supporting organisations to develop ideas, and to explore potential, we don't expect that you'll have an all singing all dancing project ready to come in, in at this point. If you do, you're very welcome to apply through our usual grant funding stream which can accept applications at any time for larger projects. But in this in this call, we're looking for things that we can help support to develop ideas. And we don't expect to have a fully developed project at the end of that in in many cases. It is important to say that we don't know how many applications are going to get in, we have absolutely no idea. There's been a huge amount of interest so we expect that there will be quite a lot. And we are likely only to fund four to six project development grants. So again, that's why we've kept the process very light touch. Because we know that it takes a lot of effort to put together complex beds. And of those four to six developments are the projects, we would potentially look to be supporting one or two in Wales in the longer term on one, one or two in each of the other countries in the UK. So it's important to be realistic about that.

Slide 7: What we’re looking to support

(Sorry, I'm in the news reader trouble here with my notes). So in terms of what we're looking to support, we want to support projects that are improving freshwater habitats and species in a place. And by freshwater we mean lakes, rivers, canals, ponds, slightly into the brackish. But we are at this point, not including coastal waters in that so important to clarify that. And when we talk about place, that could be a catchment. But for some people, catchment doesn't actually have that much meaning. So it could be a city or another geographical location like an AONB or such like, but very much rooted in in a geographic location.

We're looking for things that are shaped by diverse communities. And when we say community, we're meaning in the broadest sense. So that may be people who are particularly in disadvantaged communities but it also quite equally involves land managers, and farmers, all of these different groups have a really important role to play in improving fresh waters. We are looking for new and unusual collaborations where possible. And so, for example, we have one potential project where we have an arts and environmental organisations getting together to engage the community around the river to try and improve sense of connectedness around the city, and also potentially develop a charter for the rivers rights.

We're looking for things that really benefit people and communities that could be around flood risk management. It could be around citizen science, but it could also be around community led regeneration and enterprise. So, some of the slightly less usual connections that maybe you get.

We're hoping to find things that are ambitious with longer term visions. But we're acknowledging this is a project development phase so it's more likely at this stage that you're looking for resources to create a bit of capacity, so that you can actually do that initial legwork to develop partnerships, creative vision, and just get things to a very early stage of being able to take for a larger project. So not necessarily that incident big project ready by the end of the 12 months, that's highly unlikely.

We're also interested in things that bring in different funding and innovative approaches to funding. Again, part of what we can do is mix and match often with other things. And we're certainly interested in that aspect. And we can also use our funding in other bigger partnership approaches as well to perhaps fund things that other partners can't easily fund. And when possible, if it's doing something new, or using tried and tested models, that's something we're very interested in. So for example, we have a project where we're looking to do intergenerational mapping, to try and create a restoration vision for a catchment.

We don't expect all your applications to meet all these points that will be slightly terrifying for you and us to be honest. But these are just to give you an idea and flesh out a little bit, the kinds of things that we're interested in.

Slide 8: What we’re looking to support and who can apply

Okay, in terms of what we're offering, and who can apply, this information is on the website. But I'm just going to pull out some key points as we go through and some clarifications. So, the grant size is for project development that is between 10,000 to 60,000 pounds, and that's to be spent within a year. And I can already see that we've got a certain amount question around timescales, which we can pick up later.

In terms of who can apply. The key thing here is that the work needs to be legally charitable so that includes registered charities, social enterprises, community businesses - the key thing here being that they've got an asset lock that protects against private gain. And I should say that organisations such as Natural Resources Wales and local authorities can be a partner, and in some, and they could, in theory, be a lead partner as well, provided that we're comfortable that the work posed is not actually statutory responsibility already, and that the partnership is a sort of equitable setup. But certainly, we're open to a wide range of organisations, but the lead partner has to meet our eligibility criteria. And we're looking for projects primarily in Wales, although I see at the top of the questions there, we've got a question about cross border activity. And we will consider cross border projects, clearly, we've got some major river systems that are cross border, the Dee, the Wye to name just two. So we are interested in cross border, but we would like primary benefits to be Wales were possible. But we accept that rivers don't pay much attention to lines on maps.

In terms of what we don't consider there's a full list there, which you can obviously see coupled to just pull out really are that we don't provide funding for capital costs, you can use our funding to mix and match with other parts of your projects that have capital funding. But that's not something that we tend to do, partly because there are other people that will fund that more easily. And as I said, we don't fund things that are primarily the responsibility of statutory authorities. (Next slide)

Slide 9: FAQs

Okay, so a little bit here, again, on what kind of costs will be considered just to draw out the key points. Something that we can do, which others can't is that we can cover the cost of staff time to develop an idea or project and that I think is a key factor where we can enable people to have the capacity and the time to develop projects. And as I said, we don't fund capital works. We can use our funding as much money, you can mix and match it as long as our funding is clearly focused on our aims for blue spaces. And we're very much interested in people working in partnership. I've already said quite a lot about that. I'm not going to labour that point. But just to say that you can include the costs of setting up from coordinating networks and partnerships. And again, that's quite different from usual.

And the question that's come up on a previous Q&A we've done on this was that people are asking whether they can put in more than one project. And in terms of that, yes, you can. And if you've got a couple of real brilliant ideas that are very distinct, yes, you can certainly put forward more than one, but do bear in mind that we are going to have to prioritise and we are actually looking for quite a small number ultimately to take forward.

Slide 10: How to apply: Expressions of Interest

Okay, so in terms of how to apply it, we've launched this as an expression of interest. And the idea of this is to keep this very light touch at this point. So they'll just ask you two questions there .How and what would you like Esmée to support and what we're really looking at here is not that you have an absolutely clear idea of exactly what to do and exactly how to do it, but that you've got a concept that you'd like to develop, and how it's going to support people in organisations. And importantly, what you're thinking potentially in the longer term. Because we're not particularly looking for things that are one off projects, we were looking for things that may well be things that could be supported over quite a long timeframe next 5-10 years. So, some longevity there rather than one off projects.

We also want to know why your organisation is well placed to deliver this. So that it's about who you're working with, and how developed your connections are already, who might be actually involved in your project. And we don't expect to have full partnerships in place and that ought to be done and dusted. But there needs to be some understanding that you you've got an idea of who the key parties might be, and that there's a potential to build that relationship. And finally, we will also have the ability to upload a one to two page summary, if you've already got one, we don’t expect you need to create one specifically for this purpose, because this is meant to be light touch. But if you do have something, then you're very welcome to add that to your expression of interest.

Slide 11: Timelines and responses

Okay, so in terms of timescales, just to sort of summarise them. Expressions of interest are opening today and will close at five o'clock on the second of May. And we're aiming to make decisions on those, which would be getting in touch to see whether we can progress things further by the 25th of May. So, you'll see that the timeframe for that has lengthened already. That's because we've had already a lot of interest, possibly more than we anticipated, I think it's fair to say, which is great. But we want to make sure we've got time to fully consider everything.

Once we've had a look at the expressions of interest, the ones that we want to progress a bit further, we'll get to arrange a follow up call. And of those a small amount will then be invited to submit a full proposal. So, the full process should take about three months, we might be able to do it quicker. But again, we don't know how many are going to come in. So we're going to have to be sort of flexible on that one. And where the applications come in that we aren't going to take further we'll try to offer some limited feedback there. Again, it does slightly depend on how many we're getting but we will try to do that. And as I said earlier, it's really important to remember that our main funding route is still open if you've got a good idea for a larger long-term project that really fits blue spaces. And you are obviously very welcome to apply through that main channel already at this stage. Okay, so that's a quick zip through the slides. We get to the questions and answer now, which have been coming in.

Q&A - questions are in bold

Luna Dizon: Thank you everybody, I'm Luna, the Comms Manager, just off screen. I'll be reading out people's questions. Thanks for submitting them. I'm going to start with Chloe's question.

Can one organisation submit or be a partner in multiple applications?

Simon Wightman: I think Jenny maybe touched on this in her presentation, but you can certainly be a partner on multiple organisations. The only caveat is we will have, I suspect, some tricky decisions around how do we sort of narrow this down to a sort of manageable number of grants to make? So, do think carefully about submitting. Don't pepper us with multiple organisations with the same lead. Think where this funding could really make the most difference? But there's no, there's no limit.

Luna Dizon: Next question is from Natalia.

When does the spending year start?

Simon Wightman: So generally, when we make grants, the spending year starts at the point the grant offer is made or accepted by the by the funding manager, by the by the recipient. I should say that there is a one-year funding period for this programme, because we really need to make decisions about where we're going to invest in over a longer-term period. But we also are aware that most of the organisations who receive a grant under this programme won't get the longer-term funding, that's just the way this is going to work out. But this initial project development funding needs to be as useful as possible. If that means that we can offer some flexibility in terms of when total spend is completed, then that's something we can explore on a sort of one-to-one basis.

Luna Dizon: Thank you. And I'm going to go to Jackie's question and it’s a question around timeframes.

Two years is not a lot of time to build confidence in the community, especially when this is a new innovative fund and there needs to be time to build ideas.

Simon Wightman: It's certainly true. I think this probably comes back to Jenny's point that this is around a little bit of capacity to develop your ideas, there will be a small number of projects, which we will have a much longer-term commitment for and that will enable that more meaningful and prolonged community engagement. But we realise, even gathering ideas, pulling ideas together takes resource. And that's why we've taken this two-stage approach of providing a little bit of development funding. As Jenny said, we don't expect fully prepared project proposals with all of the details ironed out for a big project, at the end of this 12-month period. It's really just to give capacity for a little bit of extra thinking about what's possible and who needs to be who needs to be involved. Jenny, anything to add?

Jenny Wheeldon: No, I think that's, that's fair to say. It's more of a scoping exercise in a way, rather than going the whole distance in really developing a big project and getting a lot of momentum behind that where we know that we're not going to long term fund all of these projects. But it should set you up to start to develop partnerships and projects that that will then put you in a better position of having a shared vision and way of working. It can attract funds from elsewhere as well afterwards, it needs to be useful in its own right, I guess.

And I saw at the top there, we had a question about whether NRW (Natural Resource Wales) can be a supporting partner and application. I think I covered that one. But yes, they certainly can be. And in some circumstances, if they're most appropriate to be the lead, for example, where other partners perhaps aren't eligible, then that also would be possible.

Luna Dizon: And so the next question is from Christine.

How do you determine what are statutory activities with respect to water quality? For example, citizen science?

Simon Wightman: Yeah, it's a good question. And there's no doubt that things that I think sort of five or ten years ago, we would have taken a line of saying that is a statutory responsibility. I think, particularly in the area of environmental monitoring, which you raised in the question. I think that line has probably shifted, and we'll take a pragmatic approach. And certainly, we have funded community science where it's filling a gap that's been left by reduced resources for public funding. So yes, so we will take a pragmatic approach, I hope.

Luna Dizon: I'm just going to follow that up with another question about the sorts of funding people can apply for.

What is classified as capital works?

Simon Wightman: So, we would consider capital works to be either equipment and kits or changes on the ground. So, say, for example, habitat restoration works, the purchase of equipment and materials, that would all be capital. There's a rule of thumb - the vast majority of the grants that we make fund people's time. And that I suspect would be the same here. As Jenny mentioned, if there's a very strong example that somebody came to us previously was: as part of their engagement, they may need some materials and that sort of thing in order to engage young people in their programme. We, again, will take a pragmatic approach to that. But we aren't a capital funder and wouldn't expect the majority of costs to be on capital programmes.

I should say, if any of these questions aren't as clear as you'd like, do follow up probably by email to And we can get back to you individually. And also just to check with Luna that we will have all of these questions. So what we can also do is if we don't get round everyone's questions, we'll put answers in a spreadsheet and distribute them around all the attendees on the call.

Luna Dizon: Right. Thank you. Next question is from Lauren.

Would the grant scope cover fees to take legal action against the government, in partnership with a law firm, for instance?

Simon Wightman: That's a good question. I wonder if possibly a piece of work like that would be best discussed through the main fund if it had really strong community links. But I think really the sort of programme you're probably alluding to there, Lauren, is something we'd want to discuss through the main grants programme.

Luna Dizon: We're going to move on and start from the top of these questions list because I think I'm getting myself confused. So, a question from Kathy.

Can you apply if you already hold an unrestricted grant? If awarded the grant, will you be able to apply for continuation unrestricted funding alongside this fund?

Simon Wightman: Oh, that's an easy one. Thanks, Kathy. Yes, you can. This is a totally separate programme and won't affect any, any submissions you've got in train, or planning to the main programme.

Luna Dizon: Thank you.

Will there be a similar funding call for England later?

Jenny Wheeldon: Well, this may not be what you want to hear, but it's highly unlikely that we would do a similar open call in England. And the reason for that being partly that the funding landscape in England is already quite complex, with many people involved already. And also, we have a catchment partnership approach in train in England. And as you can imagine, if we were to do a completely open call, we could be oversubscribed, 1000 times over. So I think we're looking to take a different approach in each country to make sure that our funds can have the most impact. How we exactly do that in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, yet we haven't yet determined and in some ways, the expression of interest in Wales is way of testing some of that, but we're not likely to do an open call in England in the same way.

Can you apply to Blue Spaces and the main fundraising channel for a separate project?

Simon Wightman

Yeah, so that's, I think, the same situation as Kathy was alluding to, and we'll consider the two separately.

Luna Dizon: Got a couple of language questions I'm going to do now. And so, question from John.

Are you looking for projects which provide fully bilingual opportunities to people?

Simon Wightman: Yes, I think that would be appropriate in Wales and the cost of preparing materials in that way would be an eligible cost under the programme.

And there was another question around communicating with Esmée in Welsh.

Simon Wightman: We will find a way of communicating. Luna in fact, I think might be able to answer this one.

Luna Dizon: Yes. If that's something that you that is your preference, that is something that we can support you with. We don't unfortunately have any Welsh speakers working at Esmée. But we can organise for a translator to help us understand what you need and we can figure something out so that won't be an issue.

Luna Dizon: I'll move on to the next question.

So this is a person who is involved in a cluster group of around 10 farmers in river catchment, they've done some work with the National Park Authority to improve water quality and feed mitigation. And for example, create ponds, plant trees and hedges, restore peatland. They're wondering what kind of activities would be able to be funded under this fund? For example, they discussed exploring ways of removing heavy metals from the river. Would a project to explore this be eligible as an example.

Jenny Wheeldon: Interesting question.

Simon Wightman: Yeah, it is an interesting question. My suspicion is that we're really looking for something that brings the capacity to bring in unusual partners, community engagement and that sort of thing. I suspect, a programme that was looking at developing technical methodologies, and that sort of approach - this may not be the right funding programme for that. But I mean, I'd be really happy to pick this up in an exchange of emails. My guess, though, if it's around developing methodologies and techniques, I think this is probably not the right funding call for that one.

Luna Dizon: So just, again, to say that if you want to follow up on any questions, if you email email address. We'll follow up with you.

Luna Dizon: So I'm going to ask the next question from Claire.

Can you give an idea of how many project development grants will be awarded?

Jenny Wheeldon: Yeah, I mean, we don't have a fixed idea about that. But as I alluded to, we think in the region of between four and six would be the kind of scale we're looking at. As we don't know what's going to come in, it's a little bit difficult to be definitive.

Simon Wightman: Yeah, I think that's right. But I think we if we get six quality proposals, then we can fund them. So I think as a rule of thumb, that's probably one to go with.

Luna Dizon: And next question is from Aimee-Louise.

Can a national organisation apply for or hold more than one as an a grant in one year? I.e., one main one and one Blue Spaces Wales?

Simon Wightman: Yeah, I think that's probably a similar question to the previous and yes, you can. Yes.

Luna Dizon: Next question.

Would projects along the lines of feasibility studies be appropriate for this short-term focus of the fund?

Simon Wightman: Do you want to take that one, Jenny? Okay. I think this project to some extent is about visibility, but feasibility about developing partnerships and how you approach a piece of work. I think technical feasibility sort of similar to the previous question, but if it's a technical feasibility about methodologies and projects, then perhaps not. It might be that might be another one where the specifics of the feasibility study might come into play. So very happy to respond to that outside the meeting if it'd be helpful.

Luna Dizon: Right, related to an earlier question:

Can Welsh Water be a project partner or lead?

Jenny Wheeldon: Yes, yeah, I think so.

Luna Dizon: Next question from Gillian.

Could a project that uses a two-year period to co-create a citizen science projects as well as actual improvement works.

Simon Wightman: If I understood the question correctly, Gillian, then the actual improvement works might well fall under the capital exclusion. And again, we could discuss that outside. But co-creation could certainly be eligible for the fund. The intention is it's a 12-month development fund and then a smaller number of projects we’ll be able to have conversations about that longer-term support need. But yes, co-creation would certainly be eligible under this. Jenny, anything to about that one?

Jenny Wheeldon: No, I think that's, that's good.

Luna Dizon: Do you have any examples of what you consider to be innovative, any current projects that people can draw inspiration from?

Jenny Wheeldon: I think the couple of examples that I alluded to around arts and environment, organisations, potentially coming together to work with communities to look at creating a charter for a river, for example, and to build community engagement. That's one. And also, the example I gave around intergenerational restoration vision work. But if we knew the answer to that, and there were lots of them around, we wouldn't perhaps be asking for these projects. There's a lot of similar things happening around. And it may be that there isn't anything new and unusual that hasn't been tried. But what we're hoping for is that some things can come out of this that are a bit different.

Simon Wightman: I suppose the difficult thing with coming up with examples of innovation is, inevitably, the risk is that things that you aren't giving us an example are not innovative. And that's probably not the case. I guess we're looking at things that well, as Jenny said, are different ways of working, that could be that they're engaging communities that have been excluded from decision making previously. So a piece of outreach work that was intended at reaching people who hadn't been engaged in a freshwater environment, I think that would be that would be innovative. We're involved in quite a few projects that are looking at different ways at generating sustainable and long-term funding for improving the freshwater environment. And if we can help with those sorts of programmes that would also fit with that idea of innovation. I think what we probably don't want are lots of catchment partnership type projects, which are the usual players coming together, as valuable as it is, deciding what they want to do with their catchment. It's important work, it's probably not what we're going to be able to support through this programme.

Luna Dizon: The next question comes from Claire.

Can we work with partners in England as long as their involvement relates to project development in Wales?

Jenny Wheeldon: Yes, I think so. Yeah.

Luna Dizon: Next question from Victor.

Is funding for a project manager possible?

Simon Wightman: So, funding for staff costs is in scope. Yeah.

Luna Dizon: Moving on to the next question.

Is there any work in any area of work within the scope of ending river pollution in Wales that you believe is particularly lacking?

Simon Wightman: Lauren is asking all the tricky questions today. I think to be honest, there are people on the call who know the specific ins and outs of river pressures in Wales better than we do. So I think, to be honest, we know the evidence around Wales, we know that many of the issues in Wales are similar to elsewhere, around sewage pollution, pollution from agriculture, and those sorts of areas. And we'd be really open to exploring those further. But I think there are other sort of maybe less obvious problems which are not specific to Wales by any means, which would be interesting to explore. I mean, one of those, for example, is who's involved in making decisions around water stewardship? And what happens to our rivers and catchments? And are all the voices that we need around the table there? I think there's certainly questions there, that would be interesting to explore. But very happy to pick up outside Lauren, if you have specific areas you'd like to explore.

Luna Dizon: We've got one more question in the Q&A, we've still got another 15 minutes or so. So if people do have a question, do feel free to add it or if you need clarification on anything we've said, so far, do add that as well?

Luna Dizon: So, a good question, which I'm not sure we can answer just yet. Which is from Tom.

Is it fair to allow anonymous correspondence with this forum? If they want to look their partners?

I'm not quite sure how we would do this just yet. We might come back to you on that one if that's okay. I think potentially what we would do is, yeah, I don't know, we need to think about that. So I will get back to you.

Luna Dizon: Question from Jo.

Are we able to connect with you outside of this session with particular questions?

Jenny Wheeldon: I think, as we've mentioned a couple of times, probably the best way is, if you can email us at the Blue spaces, website, email, sorry. Email us. Yes. Sorry. Yes. If you could email us using the blue spaces, email.

Luna Dizon: It's on the page. But I'll follow up with just other information and with the link to the recording, if you've missed anything or if you want to watch it again, after this webinar. Or probably tomorrow. With that email, if you missed it, I'll type it into the chat as well.

Luna Dizon: A question from Claire.

You mentioned that you'd like to see projects be sustainable over a five to ten year period. How do you expect to see this evidence? Through a funding plan perhaps?

Simon Wightman: It could be a funding plan, I think what we're really keen to see at this stage is for those projects, that may not get a further grant some reassurance that the work will still be worthwhile, irrespective of whether there's a further programme of support agreed or not. So, I mean, that could be a funding plan, it could just be a dialogue between the partners involved, showing that there will be a commitment to explore routes beyond the end of the development period. It's another thing that we can discuss, but I think there's probably various things that we could we could take into account with that question.

Luna Dizon: And the next question.

Can you give an indication of the number of people on the call?

It looks like there's been about 60 odd people give or take throughout the webinar, we had around 90 people registered. Hope that answers your question.

Luna Dizon: I think that is all the questions. I don't know. Thanks for that James, and other people, who've shared kind comments.

There is another question that's just come in from Victor.

If I can be specific. I know several organisations are very concerned about the River Usk. But from your answer on catchments, anything useful for the river pollution would be too large?

Simon Wightman: Victor, I'm not I'm not quite sure I've I understand the question. It might be one to pick up. I think sort of an Usk scale project would not be out of scope. Clearly, this is a restricted fund in terms of its size, because it's intended just to be that initial first stage of bringing a project together. I suspect that's not answered your question. So do follow up with the email that that Jenny shared, if it'd be helpful.

Luna Dizon: There's a few more questions coming in, and someone's asked.

You mentioned projects must meet out impact goals. And just to check that these were the objectives outlined in the presentation?

Jenny Wheeldon: Just kind of check the objectives of the presentation. Yes, yes.

Would funding be available to raise awareness of projects or work undertaken on farms to improve freshwater? For example, bringing schools, colleges, universities out, out onto farms?

Simon Wightman: I think projects that link a community with the farmers in that area and show a community working together to address issues affecting freshwater would be in scope. Yeah.

Just thinking about the number of grants that can be awarded, you mentioned up to six. Does that mean there could be six £60,000 awards or equally only six £10,000 awards?

Simon Wightman: There could be six £60,000 awards considered. I think the key issue here is to apply for the amount of funding that you need to for the one-year programme. This isn't a ring-fenced budget within our wider grant making programme. So, although we're committed to supporting projects, I can give us a rule of thumb that we would be able to do that.

Luna Dizon: Question from Alison.

To what extent are you interested in exploring impacts of water pollution on communities and businesses. And how much should the emphasis be on developing solutions?

Simon Wightman: Well, I think probably that part of the solution is to sort of hear that community and business voice. And particularly for this first stage, I think that work would be in scope. Unless you know how pollution is affecting individuals and businesses. It's difficult to make the case for going on to solutions. I think within that longer piece of work, we would very much like to be exploring solutions. But that initial piece can be about understanding impacts on communities and businesses.

Luna Dizon: Follow up question from Lauren.

Is the charter for rivers project that you mentioned an example specific to Wales?

Jenny Wheeldon: No, it's not.

Simon Wightman: It's in England, that particular example.

Luna Dizon: Right. So, I think that was our last question. If there isn't another question that somebody has, we may finish earlier. But I'll ask Simon and Jenny to share any other final thoughts.

Simon Wightman: I think from my side, just thanks very much for your interest in the programme. I hope it's useful. I hope you can see why we're sort of taking this approach to explore new ideas. And just to reiterate, I know well, I think we did get around everyone's question, but I think it still might be useful if we put something down on paper around responses to some of the questions and we can circulate that. And if you didn't get a chance to ask your question, or something strikes you as soon as we finished the webinar, then do ping that through under the blue spaces email, and we can get back to you.

Jenny Wheeldon: Yeah, thanks, Simon. And again, reiterating, just thanks for taking the time to engage with this. And as you said, it is kind of new territory for us as well. So hopefully, between us we can come up with some really fantastic projects. We look forward to hearing your further questions, and we'll get around them as quickly as we can.

Luna Dizon: Brilliant, thank you. And thanks for all the kind comments in the Q&A, as well as Simon and Jenny mentioned, do feel free to email us the Blue Spaces email address. We will share the recording of this webinar and the transcript. So, you'll have all the answers to the questions up as well – we’ll add that to the website. And I'll email everybody who's registered to the webinar with the relevant links. And yeah, thank you again, and I'm going to end the webinar now. Thanks, everybody, and look forward to hearing from you soon with your amazing projects.