Is bidding worth the paperwork?

Bidding for money wastes more time and energy than almost any other activity.

I have no figures to back that up, but if you wanted to set up a project to unearth such statistics, you could probably bid for Lottery money to fund it. It would be a waste of time and energy, but that’s the way the world goes round.

Not literally, of course, unless you believe that the time and effort expended in bidding is somehow channelled into reinforcing gravity – and that is so unlikely that even the European Union would find it hard to justify.

But say you have lots of time and energy, and you would like to set up a project to benefit the community. Say, further, that your project involves working with children or vulnerable adults. Quite reasonably, you would like about £5000 to pay for it. It’s not much, and it’s available in a fund somewhere. Unfortunately the only way you can proceed is to bid for the money.

If you go ahead in your normal headstrong way you will receive a mere 15-page application form and 21 pages of guidance. And this is not fun reading. It is serious stuff. Oh yes. The sort of thing that saps most people’s will to live. The sort of thing that stops you working with children and vulnerable adults altogether.

It is not just a question of filling in the form, though that is debilitating enough. Before making your request for funding you need to “have safeguarding policies in place that are appropriate to your organisation’s work” – policies that have to be reviewed “at least every year”.

You must also “complete a rigorous recruitment and selection process for staff and volunteers … including checking criminal records and taking up references”. Criminal record checks, which I think I am safe in saying are totally unfit for purpose, unless the purpose is extracting money from innocent people, must be renewed “at least every three years”.

In addition, and among other things, you must “provide child protection and health and safety training or guidance for staff and volunteers”.

So in addition to your creative and exciting project, you now have to write tedious safeguarding policies and review them, introduce a rigorous bureaucratic process involving references and CRB checks, and provide crippling health and safety training and guidance – oh, and a risk assessment. Did I mention that?

All that is all on one page of the 15-page form which, happily, is quite good for making paper aeroplanes, so all is not lost. You could give them to children or vulnerable adults. As long as you have safeguarding policies in place.