Organisations at the forefront of tackling loneliness across the country may be eligible to receive a grant from a new £2million fund.
Baroness Barran, the minister for civil society, announced the launch of the fund which comes a year after the publication of the Loneliness Strategy, which outlined almost 60 commitments to end loneliness.
The funding is designed to support frontline, grassroots organisations that bring people together and help them build social connections; from community cafés and street parties to coffee mornings and local walking groups.
Small organisations will be able to use the investment to promote themselves more widely, afford suitable venues and accessible transport, and bring established groups together to help avoid loneliness.
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 Loneliness Strategy was launched last year to fund 126 projects through its £11.5million Building Connections Fund. This was the first Government fund ever dedicated to reducing loneliness, jointly funded with the Co-op Foundation and National Lottery Community Fund.
Over the past year, the Government has also launched the #LetsTalkLoneliness campaign which aims to raise awareness of loneliness and tackle the stigma that comes with 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.
The Government has also launched a Space to Connect fund, at a cost of £1.6million, in partnership with the Co-op Foundation, to provide more community spaces where people can come together including community cafés and art spaces.
The minister has travelled across the country to chair 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, to develop stronger connections between people and their sense of belonging.
These relationships will help to inform the Government’s future work, including its first loneliness annual report which will be published at the end of the year.