Time to invest ethically



Improving the recruitment and retention of SAR volunteers and the quality of service.


The aim of the UKSAR Volunteer Training Fund is to assist Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteering, by providing support for the costs of volunteers' operational training, to help improve safety and the quality of UKSAR services.


Search and rescue organisations use available personnel and facilities to locate persons in distress, potential distress or missing. They also recover them, providing initial medical or other needs and deliver them to a place of safety.

Search and rescue organisations must be recognised as viable SAR assets by the relevant statutory bodies (either the Police or the Coastguard).


An operational SAR volunteer is a person who, of their own free will, and without expectation of profit, gives their time, effort and skill in responding to emergencies by carrying out lifesaving SAR operations, as required 24/7, as part of an organisation recognised by the statutory authorities.


UK charitable SAR organisations seeking support to train their volunteers.

Eligible organisations may be either well-established or newer teams, but are those which:

  • provide both search and rescue services as part of their core activities
  • can show their activities are tasked by the relevant statutory authority or, for flood, are on the national or community asset register
  • provide this on a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week basis (where appropriate)
  • can prove that their training requirements reflect a confirmed operational need in their local area
  • are a constituted organisation in the UK with a charitable governance document

Umbrella organisations may make global applications to the Fund for their affiliated groups.

  • Association of Lowland Search and Rescue
  • British Cave Rescue Council
  • Scottish Mountain Rescue
  • Mountain Rescue England and Wales
  • Royal Lifesaving Society UK

If you are affiliated to one of these SAR bodies, you may wish to contact them to discuss how they can incorporate your training needs into the application for funds, or review your application prior to the deadline.  If you are not affiliated to one of these SAR bodies, and meet the eligibility criteria for application, you will be able to apply on an individual organisational basis.


The UKSAR Volunteer Training Fund will prioritise applications for support which demonstrate:

  • strategic and sustainable training opportunities for their volunteers
  • high quality operational search and rescue training
  • good value for money
  • collaborative approaches – ie several organisations/branches can apply within one application
  • innovative, replicable approaches to training with high community and organisational impact
  • incorporate wellbeing into the training activities provided, as appropriate

Strong applications will demonstrate how the training will impact both the capability of the organisation and its volunteers, and reflect the proven operational need in the local area.

Organisations should prioritise their training needs into 3 different categories. This will be specific to the SAR team and should reflect the operational needs in the geographic area. One way of considering this is:

  • Existing: essential volunteering training to meet existing SAR needs
  • Developing: essential for the skills development of the volunteer team
  • Innovating: training that is not essential to maintain current SAR activities, but would enable teams to innovate their practice or develop their scope

Training must be within 12 months of the payment of the grant in April, unless there is a specific justification for a longer timeframe.

Further specific details of what the Volunteer Training Fund can and cannot support are included in the Guidance Notes. Please read these carefully.


Applications are now closed.

Those who have applied will be notified of the outcome by end of November 2019.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the CAF Grantmaking team on 03000 123 334 or email UKSAR@cafonline.org