Tender opportunity: Somerset Community Foundation is currently inviting tenders from suitably qualified and experienced agencies to deliver an accessible consultation that will help shape its £1 million Discover Community Fund (deadline for tenders: 16 April 2021):

Somerset Community Foundation is currently inviting tenders to design and deliver an accessible consultation with adults with learning disabilities and/or autism in Somerset to help shape its £1 million Discovery Community Fund. Many thanks to Andy Ridgewell, Senior Programme Manager at Somerset Community Foundation, for asking us to circulate details of this opportunity. Please forward details to anyone in your network who may be interested in submitting a tender. 

The Tender invitation reads:

“CALL TO TENDER – Discovery Community Fund: delivering an accessible
consultation with adults with learning disabilities and/or autism in Somerset.


o Closing date for tenders:  Friday 16th April 2021.
o Bidders notified by: Friday 23rd April 2021.
o Project start from:  Saturday 1st  May 2021.
o Project end by: Friday 30th July 2021.


To design and deliver a consultation in a way that is accessible and adapted to the needs of adults with learning disabilities and/or autism as well as their families, friends and carers across Somerset.

The aim is to engage these groups in a way that allows them to get their voices heard and then draw together these voices to help us understand:

  • how people feel about their lives today
  • what is working well
  • what changes are needed
  • why they are needed
  • and what might be the unintended consequences of making a change.

This in turn should help us shape the Discovery Community Fund, which has been set up to support improvements to the health and independence of people with learning disabilities and/or autism across Somerset.

This is an opportunity for you to have a real impact on the delivery of a £1 million fund. Those who stand to benefit from this fund are among those disproportionally affected by the coronavirus outbreak and we want you to help us understand how this money can be used over the coming years, as society recovers.

As a guide we expect this work to cost no more than £15,000 (inclusive of VAT) but may consider more if there is an exceptional case made in a tender. In addition, we expect the project to take up to three months.

Eligibility criteria

Bidders must:

  • be insured (£250,000 professional indemnity, £5 million public liability, £10 million employers liability)
  • provide up-to-date financial information showing a going concern
  • provide privacy, safeguarding, equality, diversity and inclusion, and GDPR policies.

Skills and Experience

You must have experience of:

  • delivering accessible consultation exercises
  • involving adults with learning disabilities and/or autism in the design and delivery of a consultation plan
  • working in partnership with a range of public, private, and charitable organisations.

Project overview


Health inequalities and lack of independence for people with learning disabilities and/or autism are longstanding.

The 2018 Learning Disabilities Mortality Review found the difference in median age of death between people with a learning disability and the general population is 23 years for men and 27 years for women. Meanwhile, Public Health England recently reported that the death rate for adults with learning disabilities was up to 6 times higher from coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic than the general population.

We created the Discovery Community Fund in 2019 to support improvements to the health and independence of people with learning disabilities and/or autism across Somerset.

To date we have distributed around £250,000 to charities, social enterprises and community groups to advance these aims.

But for various reasons, including the coronavirus outbreak, we have not been able to use the fund to have a strategic impact on the lives of people in Somerset.

We now want to take a more ambitious approach, beginning with a clearer understanding of the challenges people are facing in 2021.

This project has emerged, in part, from a number of campaigns that have been running independently of the fund, focusing on Changing Places, the accessibility of primary care settings, and hate crime.

Expected outcomes of this project

1. Design and deliver a method of collecting a diverse range of views from adults with learning disabilities and/or autism as well as their families, friends and carers across Somerset. We would expect this to involve:

1.1.   the use of accessible communication formats.
1.2.   close partnership working with the service provider network.
1.3.   engagement with existing self-advocates as well as those who have so far not had their voices heard.

2. Responses collated and reported to stakeholders. We would expect this to involve:

2.1.   a written technical report that outlines the methods, findings and insights
2.2.   a written Easy Read report presenting the same information in an accessible way.

3. Recommendations and evidence for the best way to use the Fund. We would expect this to involve:

3.1.   a presentation to stakeholders
3.2.   a written conclusion to the above reports.

We will work with the successful bidder to decide some appropriate key performance indicators.


We expect this work to cost no more than £15,000 (inclusive of VAT). In addition, you will have up to £1,500 to pay £250 a day for the time of non-profit organisations to engage in the consultation.

Payment will be in two equal instalments. The first payment will be made when the contract is signed and the second at the midpoint in the project and subject to performance against agreed milestones.


Discovery supports people with learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs throughout Somerset. Discovery is part of Dimensions, one of the country’s largest not-for-profit organisations, which has been at the forefront of national best practice in support provision for more than 40 years. Discovery reinvests 50% of any surplus income into community initiatives across Somerset. 

Somerset Community Foundation is a charity that helps passionate people in Somerset change the world on their doorstep by funding local charities and inspiring local giving and philanthropy. We aim to build stronger communities in Somerset where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We provide rewarding and impactful ways for donors to give through us, to the causes and places they care about most. Together, we fund amazing organisations and the passionate people that change lives every day. Since Somerset Community Foundation was founded in 2002 we’ve awarded more than £15 million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset.

The partners will be available to offer support to access groups and networks in the county in order to undertake the consultation.

How to apply

This is a competitive tender.  To apply you need to submit two things. Firstly, you must provide the following documents evidencing that you are eligible:

  • Insurance policies.
  • Most recent published accounts and current management accounts.
  • Privacy, safeguarding, equality, diversity and inclusion, and GDPR policies

Secondly, you must present a project proposal. This should include the following sections:

  • Your organisation: organisation name, charity/company registration numbers, website address, contact details, and brief overview of your activities.
  • Your approach to this project: your plan for achieving the project outcomes, key milestones, problems to be solved and risks identified, and your experience of delivering similar work.
  • Your people: your team’s full names, job titles and responsibilities and your team’s knowledge and skills to deliver this project.
  • Your budget: your labour costs, including a breakdown of individual team members’ day rates and number of days worked, other direct costs, and VAT (if applicable).

We want adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to be involved from the very beginning. You will need to provide a written proposal covering the main points above, but you can also present information in an accessible format.

All tenders received before the deadline will be assessed by our team and we will then notify both successful and unsuccessful bidders. Tenders received after the deadline will not be considered.

We will assess each tender against the following criteria:

  • Appraisal of your approach and how it has been developed.
  • Skills and experience of the team.
  • Value for money, including costs and added value.

If you have any questions, please contact Andy Ridgewell at andrew.ridgewell@somersetcf.org.uk or call 01749 344949

Closing date for tenders: Friday 16 April 2021


Is this a fixed timeframe or is there some flexibility around it?

We would like this work to begin promptly and take around three months to deliver, as indicated above. However, we would be willing to consider a longer lead-in time if a bidder wishes to make a case for this.

Is there already a database for consultation or would the successful candidate be expected to develop this?

There is no existing database to conduct the work, but the successful bidder would be supported by the partners listed above to access existing networks. However, an element of the work would involve creating new relationships with intermediary organisations and individuals.”