Charities can now apply for a share of almost £9m of funding from the Big Lottery Fund, which is to be used for tackling loneliness by ‘building strong social connections and welcoming communities’.
The money forms part of the £11.5m Building Connections Fund, which was announced last month by the Prime Minister Theresa May and Tracey Crouch, the lead minister for tackling homelessness and also the minister for civil society.
The fund was created in response to the Jo Cox Commission’s recommendations about loneliness.
BLF is distributing almost £9m of the fund, with grants of between £30,000 and £100,000 available for projects which “reach out to people of all ages who feel lonely or isolated, and encourage them to take part in activities, helping them to feel more connected”.
It said that this could include making the most of community spaces, improving access to transport, using digital technology, or joining up local services to have a bigger reach. The money will also support the collecting and sharing of evidence and learning to increase “understanding about what works to tackle loneliness”.
Crouch said: “Loneliness is a serious issue that can affect anybody. Communities suffer when people feel disconnected or alone, but by working together we can reduce its stigma and build on the legacy of Jo Cox.
“I encourage charities and community groups across the country to help us tackle loneliness. This fund will help improve people’s lives and build stronger communities.”
Applications open today and will close on Friday 24 August. Guidance and criteria are available on the Big Lottery Fund website.
Funding for young people
A further £2m from the £11.5m Building Connections Fund will be distributed by the Co-op Foundation, with grants of up to £80,000 available for youth organisations already helping young people avoid long-term loneliness.
Successful applicants to this part of the funding will “receive funding to explore youth loneliness in greater depth, test youth-led innovations within their current services, and share learning as part of the Co-op Foundation’s national Belong network of youth partners”.
Applications to this youth-focused strand of the Building Connections Fund will open in August 2018, with guidance and criteria are available on the Co-op Foundation website.
Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Feeling connected to the people around us can have a profound impact on our wellbeing, encouraging a sense of belonging and helping to prevent loneliness.
“That's why we’re proud to be launching this new fund in partnership with Government and the Co-op Foundation. Thanks to funding raised by National Lottery players, it will help inspire community spirit and spark new friendships between people of all ages.”
Around £300,000 of the £11.5m in the fund will go towards evaluation, helping to "increase evidence and understanding about what works to tackle loneliness".
All grants will be announced in December 2018, with funding available to support projects until March 2021.