Pay it Forward is a scheme run by HeadStart Kent, who are funded by the Big Lottery Fund to support young people's emotional wellbeing and resilience. The idea of paying something forward means enabling someone to do something to help someone else. HeadStart would like to give groups of young people the opportunity to make this happen.

HeadStart want to give young people (aged 10-16) the opportunity to help others, something which can also have a positive effect on their own emotional wellbeing. Their Pay it Forward project should aim to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of other people around them, whether that be where they live, at school, at a club or at another community organisation.

A useful definition of emotional wellbeing is offered by the Mental Health Foundation: ‘A positive sense of wellbeing enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life.’ Emotional health is about being happy, self-confident, self- aware, and resilient. People who are emotionally healthy are able to cope with life's challenges and recover from setbacks.

Each group of young people can apply from £250 up to £1,000. Young people need not feel they must apply for the highest amount if a smaller amount is sufficient for the project they wish to run. £1,000 is the maximum amount any one group of young people may apply for. When considering applications, young people from Speak Out @ HeadStart will decide on whether the amount asked for reflects the proposed project and may offer a grant of a smaller amount to the applicants.

You can download the Pay it Forward poster (PDF, 2.8 MB) to display in your setting and encourage more young people to apply.

In previous years, successful Pay it Forward projects have included a range of activities. For example, a school in Ashford used the grant to create a beautiful sensory garden which has many uses. Students, staff and visitors to the school use the garden for somewhere to relax and reflect, a place for learning about the world around us and a space where new hobbies and interests are nurtured.

A primary school in Maidstone set up a fantastic club to develop young people’s resilience and emotional wellbeing. The club supported Year 6 pupils with their transition into secondary school and trained pupils to become Wellbeing Ambassadors to look out for the school community. Another organisation used their funding to produce and film a play that had been made by a group of young people about domestic abuse and shared this with others to raise awareness.

The aim of each project should be to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of young people in your community, so we are open to all ideas which fit this brief.

Anyone aged 10-16 living in any Kent district can apply for up to £1,000 to carry out a project in their local community (residential, school, club, etc.) to improve the emotional wellbeing of others. All applicants must be working as part of a group of a minimum of 2 young people.

A trusted adult can assist young people with the application, especially within the 'eligibility' section, but it should be completed in the words of the young people themselves.

Organisations can apply more than once for separate projects, as they are assessed individually.

Important dates

8 February 2019Application deadline for round 1
7 March 2019Expected response date for round 1
12 April 2019Application deadline for round 2
10 May 2019Expected response date for round 2
7 June 2019Application deadline for round 3
8 July 2019Expected response date for round 3
29 August 2019Application deadline for round 4
27 September 2019Expected response date for round 4
4 October 2019Application deadline for round 5
1 November 2019Expected response date for round 5

It is important to explain clearly in your application how your project will benefit the emotional health and wellbeing of others in your community.

When applying for a Pay It Forward grant please include a detailed breakdown of costs, so the panel of young evaluators can see exactly what the money intends to be spent on. Screenshots of online shopping baskets and cuttings from catalogues are very useful and give the panel a good idea of what the money will be used for.

If possible, make the application as visual as possible for the panel. This helps the project come to life. The panel of young evaluators welcome evidence of research and planning such as photographs, videos, mind-maps, surveys and captions from the young people involved in the application process.

The following rounds will follow after decisions have been made on these grant applications so look out for emails and newsletter posts to make sure you’re aware of further opportunities.


After you apply, HeadStart Kent’s Speak Out group of young evaluators will decide on the application, using a specific criteria to assess each application. They are trained to evaluate each application and will make the final decisions regarding the successful applications. You will hear back from us within two months of the deadline of that round.

Each project will need to provide dates as to when HeadStart Kent Young evaluators or members of the HeadStart project team can visit to evaluate the project.

If you are holding an event as part of your project we would wish to be invited so that we can celebrate with the young people. We will want to speak with the young people leading the project as well as some of beneficiaries of the work. The successful projects will be contacted by HeadStart Kent to arrange this.

If you have any questions about the grant, contact Amy Cunningham (Participation Worker for HeadStart Kent) by calling 07815 524788 or email