More than 840 organisations across England have received a share of a £4m government fund to tackle loneliness.
The charities, community groups and grassroots organisations will use the money to tackle social isolation.
This comes one year on from the government relaunching the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign, to remind people that there is no shame in asking for help.
Baroness Barran, minister for civil society and loneliness, has also released Emerging Together: the Tackling Loneliness Network Action Plan, to recognise that tackling loneliness will remain a national priority for the government.
The £4m Local Connections Fund is designed to help local organisations with an annual income of less than £50,000.
It is made up of £2m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and £2m 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.
A range of grantees
Organisations have been awarded grants ranging from £300 to £2,500 for things like covering the costs of technology and equipment to bring people together, and funding services including songwriting workshops and dance classes.
The minister marked the announcement with a visit to Cultivating Community in Somerset, which has received £1,502 to run a gardening programme for elderly and isolated people.
Barran 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.”
She added: “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.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than £34m of the £750m charity funding package has gone towards reducing loneliness.
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 £2m 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.”
Zoë Abrams from the British Red Cross explores what a connected community looks like in reality and examines the role played by charities, now and into the future