Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
11:36 AM 9th May 2021

Over 800 Organisations Receive New Funding To Tackle Loneliness

Over 840 charities, community groups and small grassroots organisations across England to benefit
Announcement comes one year on from Government relaunching ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign
Minister for Loneliness visits Cultivating Community in Somerset to see how grant funding will help them tackle loneliness
WhatsApp among more than 70 organisations that pledges new measures

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.

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.

Baroness Barran, Minister for Loneliness, said:

"As we emerge from lockdown, it’s critical to remember that some people will remain isolated, and loneliness will not simply go away. This is why the Government is committed to continuing to tackle loneliness as a national priority.

"The local organisations benefiting from these grants are a powerful way of connecting small groups of people across communities in England. I’m delighted that the Local Connections Fund is giving people an opportunity to do things they enjoy, whilst helping tackle loneliness.

"It is a privilege to have worked alongside the organisations in the Tackling Loneliness Network to produce our action plan, and I am confident that the commitments we’ve made will be a positive step towards ending the loneliness that has blighted so many lives in the past year."

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:

"Throughout the pandemic we’ve continually seen the impact that grassroots groups and charities are having on their local communities. The grants made through the Local Connections Fund have empowered small organisations across England to make a huge difference – supporting individuals to build connections, reducing feelings of isolation and helping communities to thrive.

"We are proud to have distributed this funding on behalf of DCMS, and now look ahead to the summer when a further £2 million of National Lottery funding will be made available – through the Local Connections Fund - to help charities and community groups address loneliness and create social connections in their local areas."

Sophie England, Public Policy Programmes Manager UK at Facebook, said:

"It has been a real privilege to represent Facebook on the Tackling Loneliness Network over the past year and to work with such an inspiring network of companies, organisations and individuals. While there are many fantastic resources and services open to those impacted by loneliness, it can be really difficult to know where to go to find them. The WhatsApp chatbot messaging service will provide a free and simple way to access this information, ensuring that anyone impacted by loneliness can find the support they need."