About the Early Relationships Fund

The Early Relationships Fund (ERF) is a three year funding programme for third sector organisations supporting parent-infant relationships during the crucial First 1,000 Days (from pregnancy to age 2). The fund is designed to support third sector organisations to deliver high-quality, evidence-based education and support to new and expectant parents around the importance of attachment and early relationships, and to evidence the impact of this work, with support from an external learning partner. Learning from this programme will support broader strategic efforts to improve access to early relationships education and support for parents and babies in Scotland.

Cattanach will award up to four 3-year grants to third sector organisations to deliver early relationships support in community settings as part of a wider package of holistic family support (social, emotional and practical). The total grant fund available is £625,000. The maximum grant award available is £200,000 over three years.

There is a two-stage application process for this fund. Cattanach is currently inviting Expressions of Interest from eligible organisations. Shortlisted organisations will then be invited to develop a full proposal for one of two funding rounds. Support will be provided to applicants to develop these proposals. The first grant award(s) will be made in September 2024. The second round of award(s) will be made in December 2024.

Full details (including a glossary of key terms) can be found in the Early Relationships Fund Information and Guidance Notes.

Who can apply

In order to apply for this funding, your organisation must:

  • Be an incorporated third sector organisation
  • Have appropriate safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures in place
  • Currently provide holistic family support to new and/or expectant parents in a community setting in Scotland, and
  • Be willing to work with an external learning partner to evidence the impact of the funded work

For definitions of key terms, please refer to the Glossary in the Early Relationships Fund Information and Guidance Notes.

What will be funded

Eligible organisations can apply for funding to continue and/or expand existing early relationships education and support activities, and/or to pilot new approach(es). 

Successful organisations will: 

  • Have staff trained in evidence-based early relationships education and support approaches
  • Have experience of delivering at least one of these evidence-based approaches in a community setting as part of a wider package of holistic family support
  • Have established referral pathway(s) with at least one relevant statutory service
  • Have experience of co-delivering early relationships education and support with relevant statutory service(s)

We are particularly interested in funding the following activities within the context of holistic family support: 

  • Antenatal and/or postnatal educational programmes for expectant parents focussed on the importance of early relationships and parent-infant attachment
  • Individual and/or group support for parents to promote warm and attuned relationships and parent-infant attachment 
  • Support for families at greater risk of challenges with early relationships and/or families living in poverty and/or other marginalised groups

Guidance notes

Full details are provided in the Early Relationships Fund Information and Guidance Notes. Please read this document carefully before completing the Expression of Interest form.

Expressions of interest

Eligible organisations are invited to submit an Expression of Interest via this online form.

You can view all of the questions in the form in this PDF version. Please note, Expressions of Interest can only be submitted using the online form.

Please read the Guidance Notes in full before completing the online form. Once you have submitted the form, you will not be able to edit your responses.

The closing date for Expressions of Interest is Monday 3 June 2024 (12 noon). This is a fixed deadline and there will be no exceptions.

Information session

We ran an information session for organisations interested in the fund on Tuesday 14 May 2024.

We have added the questions shared during the session to the FAQ section below.

You can download the slidedeck from the webinar presentation here.

Please click on the video below to view the recording of the webinar presentation.

Frequently asked questions

We publish FAQs about the fund here. This will be updated as queries are submitted.

My organisation is currently funded via Cattanach's Main Grants programme. Is the Early Relationships Fund replacing the Main Grants programme or do you plan to continue with Main Grants?

The Main Grants programme closed for applications at the end of 2023. We do not plan to re-open this programme in future.

Live grants under the Main Grants programme are unaffected by the launch of the Early Relationships Fund. If your organisation currently holds a grant from the Main Grants programme, you will receive future instalments in accordance with your grant agreement for the remainder of the grant (in accordance with our terms and conditions).

If your organisation currently holds a live grant under the Main Grants programme, you can apply to the Early Relationships Fund as long as (i) you meet the fund criteria and (ii) your current grant ends before an ERF award would begin OR you are seeking funding for a separate piece of work. You cannot hold two Cattanach grants for the same piece of work concurrently.

Previous Main Grants grantees (i.e. organisations whose grant has already ended) are welcome to apply to the Early Relationships Fund as long as you meet the fund criteria.

Are new projects preferred or will Cattanach fund existing work?

We will consider applications to continue and/or extend existing work. We will also consider applications to deliver new work.

Will Cattanach accept partnership bids?

Yes, we will consider partnership bids from two (or more) incorporated third sector organisations where there is a clear rationale for the partnership. For example, where a partner contributes specific expertise required for the proposed work or extends the geographical reach of funded work to another area.

The lead partner must meet all four of the eligibility criteria for the fund. If a grant is awarded to a partnership, the lead partner will hold the grant and manage the funded work (including all reporting requirements) on behalf of the other partner organisation(s).

The other partner(s) must be incorporated third sector organisations with appropriate safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures in place, and be willing to work with an external learning partner. However, it is not essential that partner organisations are currently delivering holistic family support to new and/or expectant parents.

For example:

Organisation A runs holistic family support services for parents of young children at a community hub in Anytown. They have identified a need locally for antenatal education and support focused on parent-infant relationships. They wish to partner with Organisation B, who specialise in supporting expectant parents to understand early relationships and to bond with their babies during the antenatal period.

Organisation A is the lead partner for the bid. They will manage the proposed work - new groups for expectant and new parents focused on parent-infant relationships - as part of their wider holistic family support services. Organisation B will assist Organisation A to develop and deliver the antenatal component of the new service.

Organisation B would not be eligible to apply for an Early Relationships Fund grant on its own as it does not currently provide holistic family support to new and/or expectant parents. However, it does meet the other three eligibility criteria and, as such, can be the second partner in Organisation A’s partnership bid.

If this partnership bid was successful, Organisation A would be the grantholder. A formal partnership agreement between the two organisations would be required as a condition of grant. Organisation A would be responsible for transferring grant funds to Organisation B, in line with the agreed budget for the funded work. Organisation A would be responsible for managing the funded work and all reporting to Cattanach.

Please contact the ERF team (ERF@cattanach.org.uk) to discuss a possible partnership bid before submitting your Expression of Interest.

Are partnership bids preferred?

We do not have a preference for partnership bids. If there is a strong rationale for two or more third sector organisations to work together to deliver the proposed work, then we are happy to consider a partnership bid from them.

Please contact the ERF team (ERF@cattanach.org.uk) to discuss a possible partnership bid before submitting your Expression of Interest.

Can statutory service(s) be included in a partnership bid?

No. Early Relationships Fund grants are for incorporated third sector organisations only.
All successful applicants will be working closely with statutory services. As stated in the success criteria, we are seeking to fund third sector organisations with existing relationships with statutory service(s) and experience of co-delivering activities with them. We encourage applicants to detail this work in the Expression of Interest form.

What does Cattanach mean by ‘co-delivery with statutory services’?

This refers to collaboration between eligible third sector organisations and relevant statutory services (such as midwives, health visitors, NHS Infant Mental Health / PAIRS Teams). This could include referral pathways, information and knowledge sharing, training and supervision, and/or jointly delivering activities, such as co-delivery of parenting education and support groups.

Costs associated with co-delivery with statutory agencies (e.g. venue hire, publicity or educational materials, catering etc) could be covered using ERF funding by the grantholder.

Will Cattanach fund training and delivery of perinatal mental health support for parents?

The focus of this fund is on providing and evidencing the impact of education or support to parents around parent-infant attachment and warm and attuned early relationships.
We encourage applicants to consult the NHS Education for Scotland Infant Mental Health training plan and the NHS Education for Scotland Early Intervention Framework for relevant evidence-based approaches and programmes. If the approach you use is not included here, please provide reference to the evidence base for your chosen method or programme in your Expression of Interest form. If you wish to discuss the suitability of your approach, please contact the ERF team (ERF@cattanach.org.uk) before submitting your Expression of Interest.

Good parental mental health is an important part of ensuring parents have the capacity to provide warm and attuned care. Funded organisations may be providing support for perinatal mental health as part of a wider offer of holistic family support. This support can therefore be included as part of the funding application, providing it sits alongside parent-infant relationships support.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Early Relationships Fund or require further support, please email ERF@cattanach.org.uk