New fund for frontline organisations tackling loneliness

Let's Talk Loneliness
  • Government launches £2 million grant fund for organisations tackling loneliness
  • New funding comes one year since publication of landmark Loneliness Strategy
  • Builds on existing £11.5 million Building Connections Fund and support for community space and tech projects

A new £2 million fund is being launched to help organisations at the frontline of tackling loneliness across the country, Minister for Civil Society Baroness Barran announced today.

The funding aims to support frontline, grassroots organisations that bring people together and help them build social connections. These could include community cafés, street parties, coffee mornings or local walking groups.

The investment will help small organisations promote themselves more widely, help fund the use of suitable venues and accessible transport, and bring established groups together to best serve local people at risk of loneliness.

The funding marks one year since the publication of the Government’s landmark Loneliness Strategy which outlined almost 60 commitments to end loneliness.

This included funding 126 projects through its £11.5 million Building Connections Fund – the first Government fund ever dedicated to reducing loneliness, jointly funded with the Co-op Foundation and National Lottery Community Fund.

Baroness Barran, Minister for Loneliness, said:

Loneliness is one of the biggest public health challenges our country faces and we are committed to tackling it head on. This new fund is a fitting way to mark one year since the launch of our landmark strategy and will help grassroots organisations address the issue in their own communities.

I have had the privilege of meeting so many people, young and old, who are unsung heroes and heroines in their communities, bringing people together through cafés, reading groups, arts and crafts, gardening, sports and more. They have told me how they want a chance to celebrate their work, together with other local groups, so they can raise awareness and encourage more people to be involved.

This new investment shows how much we value their work and our continued commitment to beating loneliness.

The commitments in the Loneliness Strategy also included:

  • Social prescribing: supporting all local health and care systems to implement social prescribing schemes that can refer patients to support programmes to inspire social connections across the country by 2023;
  • Building a network of employers to take action on loneliness: more than 30 local and national organisations have signed up to an Employer Pledge to provide help and support to lonely people;
  • Working in partnership with Royal Mail to trial ‘Safe and Connected’: An innovative pilot was launched to enable postal workers in Whitby, Liverpool and New Malden in Kingston-upon-Thames to help lonely older people on their usual delivery rounds.

Over the past year, the Government has also:

  • Launched the #LetsTalkLoneliness campaign, which aims to raise awareness of loneliness, recognise the signs and tackle the stigma surrounding it. The campaign was developed through a partnership between Government, business and charities, including the Co-op Foundation, the British Red Cross, the Campaign to End Loneliness, Mind, Public Health England, the Jo Cox Foundation and the Marmalade Trust;
  • Launched the £1.6 million Space to Connect fund in partnership with the Co-op Foundation, to unlock community spaces where people can come together such as community cafés, art spaces, or extending opening hours of community buildings; and
  • Invested £1 million in the Nesta Tech to Connect Challenge Prize, to encourage the design of solutions to tackle social isolation and promote community cohesion.

    The announcement comes ahead of the Minister visiting ‘Body and Soul’, an expansion project based in Hackney, which is using a grant from the Building Connections Fund to deliver a dialectical therapy skills group, trauma yoga sessions and weekly creative spaces – reducing social isolation in the process.

Since her appointment, the Minister has travelled across the country to chair a number of events with representatives from charities, sports and youth clubs, social enterprises, responsible businesses and local groups to build on the positive work of the Civil Society Strategy and Loneliness Strategy. This has been with a particular emphasis on building stronger connections between people and helping to develop their sense of belonging.

These relationships will help to inform the Government’s future work, including its first loneliness annual report, highlighting achievements and next steps, which will be published at the end of 2019.

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