The Prince’s Countryside Fund, the charity which aims to improve the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life across the UK, has announced a grant funding pot of over £600,000 to support vital rural initiatives.

Rural enterprise projects across the West and South West that range from enhancing community services, provide training opportunities for young and unemployed people and projects that focus on developing stronger, more sustainable farm businesses can apply for a grant of up to £50,000.

Across areas including Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, over £1.2 million has been donated over the last six years to projects including:

• Cosmic – delivering training on digital technologies to farmers and rural businesses across the South West through workshops and one to one sessions.

• Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West – supported 100 farmers in dealing with financial hardship, complex regulations and how to plan properly for retirement.

• Farm Cornwall – provides crisis support, farm training, computer training and debt management.

• Royal Bath & West of England Society – developed an advice and support package throughout the Levels and Moors catchment, to encourage land use that stops or slows water from entering river courses and maximises natural flood management.

As part of its vital role in responding to countryside crises, the Fund is also opening up specific funds to help support the winter flood recovery. Organisations that are supporting farmers, rural businesses and communities following the severe storms in December 2015 across Cumbria, Lancashire, Herefordshire, Northumberland and North Yorkshire, Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland can apply.

Submissions open on Monday 19 September and close on Thursday 13 October and applicants can visit to check their eligibility and found out how to apply.

Reflecting the growing need in rural communities, the Fund released its greatest number of grants to date earlier this year with 21 projects funded. Since being founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010, the Fund has distributed over £7 million to 182 projects across the UK, helping more than 200,000 people.

Clare Crookenden, grants manager for The Prince’s Countryside Fund, said: “Since 2010 our grant programme has provided a vital boost to people and grassroot organisations who are working hard to protect and enhance the countryside. We’ve been able to support innovative and diverse projects, ranging from inspiring young people to develop their skills and pursue a rural career to strengthening rural businesses who have been hit hard in recent years.

“Our grant programme has been made to available to help improve the lives of people living and working in the countryside. Community shops, libraries and pubs and the people that support them add vibrancy and strength to rural communities and we are committed to help. Action is needed to give rural communities the chance to provide the vital services that they rely on and to ensure all of us benefit from retaining a vibrant countryside.”