People Awards

People Awards have been replaced by the Public Engagement Fund.

Previously, People Awards supported public engagement projects that encouraged the public to consider and debate issues raised by health and wellbeing research. 

Scheme at a glance

This scheme is now closed

Project stage:

Production and project delivery

Where your audience is:

UK, Republic of Ireland

Level of funding:

Up to £40,000

Duration of funding:

Up to 3 years

Who can apply

Your project team must include the right expertise to develop and deliver the project, including a scientific expert (ie, a research scientist, clinician, ethicist or medical historian). The scientific expert can lead the project, be a collaborator or take on an advisory role.

In most cases, your team should be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. The primary public audience must also be in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

The person leading the project team can apply as an individual, but the project must be administered through an organisation.

We can fund:

  • small to medium one-off projects
  • projects that pilot new ideas and aim to reach larger audiences after the award
  • parts of larger projects.

You can use the award to fund activities such as:

  • workshops, events, debates and discussions
  • exhibitions and museum outreach
  • educational films, games, websites, and projects that work across these media
  • performance or theatre projects involving existing work, or work that may be more illustrative than artistic
  • discussion, debate and opinion-gathering projects that feed into policy making
  • creation of teaching materials
  • working with the collections of the Wellcome Library and Wellcome Collection at the Science Museum.

Who can't apply

You can't apply if your proposal is mainly about:

  • a health promotion or campaign
  • art for therapeutic purposes
  • academic research (apart from when it’s integral to the project’s development eg action research).

What we're looking for

People's Awards aim to support projects that:

  • provide evidence of audience need
  • stimulate interest, excitement and debate about science and the history of medicine
  • reach audiences with a wide geographical spread across the UK and/or Republic of Ireland
  • support formal and informal learning
  • inform, inspire and involve audiences of all ages and from all walks of life
  • bring together the right team members and disciplines
  • investigate and test new methods of engagement, participation and education.

People Awards are for up to three years and offer support up to £40,000. This support can include any costs directly associated with delivering the project, such as:

  • You can ask for salary costs for yourself if you’re:

    • part of a small or independent organisation
    • a freelance artist or engagement professional.

    You can’t ask for salary costs for yourself if you’re:

    • an academic on a permanent funded post.

    You can ask for salary costs for staff if:

    • they are essential to your project.

    You can’t ask for salary costs for staff if:

    • they already have a salary for the period of the grant
    • they’re employed by someone else.

    Team members could include project management staff and artists employed on your grant.

  • research/teaching buy-out leave to cover the costs of a temporary replacement lecturer or teacher

    materials, consumables and equipment if they're appropriate to the project and you can justify them

    production costs, including marketing of the work

    travel and subsistence relevant to the project

  • We'll pay for all of your project evaluation costs, including independent evaluation if justified.

    The evaluation costs should be 5-10% of the total project costs you're requesting.

  • You can ask for all costs associated with delivering your project up to a total of £40,000. You will need to justify these and include a breakdown in your application.
    We cover:

    • venue hire and access charges
    • Disclosure and Barring Service checks
    • contingency costs, up to 5% of the total costs you’re requesting
    • administration costs that aren’t already covered by other funding
    • access support including, but not limited to, British Sign Language interpretation and PA support.

    We don’t cover:

    • salary costs for staff who are already funded by their organisation
    • core overheads of the organisation administering your grant that aren’t related to the project eg heating and rent
    • academic courses such as Master’s degrees or PhDs, and other tuition fees
    • expenses incurred submitting your application
    • costs incurred before your project starts.

What we don’t offer

We don't provide funds for directly allocated or indirect costs unless they're included on this page.

People Awards have been replaced by the Public Engagement Fund.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.


Production and project delivery
Republic of Ireland

Contact us

For general queries about grants, contact

People we've funded

Lindsay Keith

Dr Lindsay Keith CEO of The Refinery and creator of SMASHfest UK People Awards

Dr Lindsay Keith

When I applied for a People Award, I knew Wellcome was an organisation that will take risks and that believes in true public engagement.
More case studiesList of grantholders