£4m fund for community groups tackling loneliness

Book clubs, walking groups and other community projects will be able to apply for a £4 million fund designed to help reduce loneliness in the coming months.

The Local Connections Fund – made up of £2 million from the Government and £2 million from The National Lottery Community Fund –  will be used for hundreds of small grants worth between £300 and £2,500.

These investments are designed to help local organisations bring people and communities together as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran, said:

“A great way to reduce loneliness is to do something you already enjoy with like-minded people, whether that’s walking, volunteering or joining a book club. During the pandemic I’ve been so impressed with the way community groups have adapted their work to bring people together in new and innovative ways.

“By investing directly in local charities and organisations, the £4 million Local Connections Fund will get support to where it’s needed quickly and help bring people together through shared interests, so that no one needs to feel isolated in the months ahead.”

Elly De Decker, Director of England Funding at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: 

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen charities and community groups be a powerful force for good, tackling loneliness. 

“Small organisations are making a big difference, often on only small sums of money – supporting individuals to connect, reducing feelings of isolation, and helping communities thrive.”

Su Moore, Stronger Communities Director at the Jo Cox Foundation, said:

“The power of connection is a thread that runs through the work of the Jo Cox Foundation. Throughout 2020, we’ve seen our Great Get Together and More in Common community organisers mobilise to support their neighbours, to tackle loneliness. Local people understand the issues in their communities, and by supporting them, we can make a real difference.”

This announcement builds on previous work by the Government to reduce loneliness during the pandemic. Over £24 million of the £750 million charity funding package has gone directly towards reducing loneliness, and a further £45 million to organisations supporting people with their mental health.

And in June we relaunched our long-running campaign, Let’s Talk Loneliness, to remind people that there’s no shame in asking for help. The website has lots of useful advice on how to help yourself and others safely.

Throughout December, the Let’s Talk Loneliness advent calendar is sharing practical advice, inspiring stories, and support routes to encourage people to take the first steps to alleviate loneliness in themselves and others.

The Local Connections Fund will be split into two rounds of funding – each with its own application window, one in January 2021 and one in the summer 2021. 

Funding will be available to small charities and community groups in England with an annual income of £50,000 or less, which are working to reduce loneliness by helping people feel more connected.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will provide the first round of funding, totalling £2 million, and this will open for applications on 5 January 2021. Organisations should apply via The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Grants from this round will be distributed and spent by the end of the financial year.

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