Over 840 charities, community groups and grassroots organisations tackling social isolation have received a share of £4m to tackle loneliness, as the country continues to build back better from the pandemic.
Projects across England, including songwriting workshops in Devon, dance classes in Bedfordshire, and online chat services in Durham, have been awarded grants ranging from £300 to £2,500.
The funding is designed to help local organisations with an annual income of less than £50,000 bring people and communities together.
The grants will be used to tackle loneliness and isolation in different ways – from covering the costs of technology and equipment to bring people together in a safe and secure way, to strengthening their services through training and development to provide long-term impact.
The Minister for Loneliness marked the announcement with a visit to Cultivating Community in Somerset, who have benefited from The Local Connections Fund.
Thanks to a grant worth £1502, the organisation is running a programme called ‘Planting Seeds of Connection’. The programme enables the elderly and isolated to grow plants and flowers, and whilst doing so connecting with others, to help tackle loneliness.
Baroness Barran, Minister for Loneliness, said:
The Local Connections Fund is made up of £2 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and £2 million from The National Lottery Community Fund. The second round of funding for the Local Connections Fund will be provided by The National Lottery Community Fund and applications for this will launch in the summer of 2021.
The funding coincides with one year since DCMS relaunched its long-running campaign, Let’s Talk Loneliness, to remind people that there is no shame in asking for help. To mark this milestone, the Loneliness Minister has released Emerging Together: the Tackling Loneliness Network Action Plan, to recognise that tackling loneliness will remain a national priority for the Government.
The action plan has set out key themes and actions decided by the Tackling Loneliness Network, which includes over 70 organisations. Members of the network have committed to self-funded actions which will help local communities tackle loneliness, including:
- WhatsApp will develop a chatbot messaging service that will offer anyone impacted by loneliness a simple and secure way to find information and support services.
- JCDecaux has committed to look at how relevant content to help signpost young people to loneliness support and services could be included on their network of free, fast wifi spots on high streets across the UK.
- The Association of Convenience Stores will produce a guide for its members on wellbeing and tackling loneliness
Since the beginning of the pandemic, over £34 million of the £750 million charity funding package has gone directly towards reducing loneliness, and a further £50 million to organisations supporting people with their mental health. In total, over 14,000 charities have benefited.
Elly De Decker, England Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: