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New fund tackling loneliness opens to applications

Charities and community groups in England can now apply for a share of close to £9 million aimed at tackling loneliness by building strong social connections and welcoming communities.

The money is from the £11.5 million Building Connections Fund announced on 19 June by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and lead Minister for Tackling Loneliness, Tracey Crouch, in response to the Jo Cox Commission’s recommendations on Loneliness.

Almost £9 million will be distributed by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, and will support projects already working to prevent or reduce loneliness to increase their impact.

Grants of between £30,000 and £100,000 will be 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.

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.

Applications open Monday 16 July and will close on Friday 24 August. Guidance and criteria are available on the Big Lottery Fund website.

Minister for Loneliness, Tracey Crouch MP, 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.”

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.”

The remaining £2 million from the £11.5 million Building Connections Fund will be distributed by the Co-op Foundation, the UK’s leading funder of projects tackling youth loneliness.

Grants of up to £80,000 will be available for youth organisations already helping young people avoid long-term loneliness.

Successful applicants 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. Guidance and criteria are available on the Co-op FoundationGoes to different website website.

Groups should apply to the strand which is most appropriate to support their work.

All grants will be announced in December 2018, with funding available to support projects until March 2021.


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Notes to editors

  1. The £11.5 million Building Connections Fund was created as part of a new partnership between Government, led by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op Foundation.
  2. It is made up of £5.5 million from Government Departments, £5 million of National Lottery funding contributed by the Big Lottery Fund, and £1 million provided by the Co-op Foundation.
  3. Around £300,000 of the £11.5 million will go towards evaluation, helping to increase evidence and understanding about what works to tackle loneliness.Application criteria and guidance for the £9 million main strand of the Building Connections Fund is available now on the Big Lottery Fund’s website:
  4. Application criteria and guidance for the £9 million main strand of the Building Connections Fund is available now on the Big Lottery Fund’s website:
  5. Application criteria and guidance for the £2 million youth strand of the Building Connections Fund will be available on the Co-op Foundation’s website from Monday 16th July. It will open for applications in August:
  6. The government departments contributing to the Building Connections Fund are:
    • Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
    • Department for Education (DfE)
    • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
    • Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
    • Department for Transport (DfT)
    • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
    • Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG)

Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, our funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 we have awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.

Co-op Foundation is a charity set up by the Co-op, helping disadvantaged communities work together to make things better. It has three set goals for the next three years: to champion young people’s ability to contribute positively to their communities and help strengthen their sense of belonging; to invest in disadvantaged communities’ capacity to overcome social, economic or environmental challenges; and to build our reputation as a trust charity with a co-operative difference, uniting with others to make sustainable impact in communities. For more information, visit Co-op Foundation is a working name of Co-operative Community Investment Foundation, a charity registered in England, Wales (1093028) and Scotland (SC048102)


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