800 small charities and community groups share £4m fund to tackle loneliness

More than 800 small charities and community groups have been handed grants from a £4m government fund to combat loneliness.

The first recipients of the Local Connections Fund, which is made up of £2m from the Department for digital, Culture, Media and Sport and £2m from the National Lottery Community Fund, have been announced.

The grants range from £300 to £2,500 and are aimed at supporting charities and community groups with an income of less than £50,000.

Songwriting workshops in Devon, dance classes in Bedfordshire and an online chat service in Durham are among good causes to benefit.

A second round of funding is due to launch this summer.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve continually seen the impact that grassroots groups and charities are having on their local communities,” said Elly De Decker, England Director at The National Lottery Community Fund.

“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.”

The funding announcement has come as the government announces it is relaunching its Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign to tackle social isolation.

In addition, the government has made a commitment to combat loneliness in its Emerging Together: the Tackling Loneliness Network Action Plan.

This sets out plans including developing a chatbot messaging service through WhatsApp.

“The local organisations benefiting from these grants are a powerful way of connecting small groups of people across communities in England,” said charities minister Baroness Barran in announcing the Local Connections funding.

“I’m delighted that the Local Connections Fund is giving people an opportunity to do things they enjoy, whilst helping tackle loneliness.”

She added: “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.”

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