The Government has launched a major effort to tackle loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing.
When launching the plan, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“Coronavirus and social distancing has forced all of us to look loneliness in the eye. So recognising the signs and tackling the stigma has never been more important.
“We are launching this plan now to help ensure no one needs to feel lonely in the weeks ahead. It will help everyone understand the role they can play in looking after each other, and empower our expert charities and volunteers to reach more vulnerable people.”
The plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.
As part of this plan, national organisations working to tackle loneliness and build social connections are invited to apply for a share of £5 million of funding, which the government is investing to help them to continue and adapt their critical work.
We believe that the answers to problems like loneliness are usually held within communities. We have already announced several funding streams, including a microgrants fund which will be directed at hyperlocal organisations, as well as funding provided to the National Emergencies Trust and The National Lottery Community Fund. These will support local organisations working with vulnerable people affected by Covid-19, including in relation to loneliness.
However, we also believe there is a need currently to expand the capacity of some organisations with a national reach and who have trusted relationships in communities. For example, this could include services adapting to allow digital delivery, expansion of helpline or volunteer capacity, or to allow for face to face contact in line with social distancing guidance to reach those currently isolated from friends and family.
We welcome applications from umbrella organisations who wish to give funding to local organisations underneath them.
Purpose and Aims of the Fund
The expected outcomes of the fund are:
- effective, targeted relief for those most at risk of loneliness as a result of Covid-19
- contributing to the evidence base on Covid-19 and loneliness. This includes the impacts that measures such as self-isolation and social distancing are having on loneliness, particularly amongst vulnerable groups, as well as identifying ways that charities can adapt to manage social distancing requirements while still supporting social connection
This funding is for services that:
- can demonstrate their ability to reach people in ‘cold spots’ where informal neighbourly support and small local charities are not able to fully meet needs around social connection, both via digital (telephone and online) and face to face provision, while respecting social distancing guidelines *serve the needs of groups particularly at risk of loneliness, including those noted in ONS analysis and Community Life Survey and Active Lives Survey data
- continue, adapt or expand existing provision where there is a track record of successful delivery. We are not looking to fund innovations through this programme, although we are interested in adaptations of existing approaches in line with social distancing rules, particularly where these will build longer term resilience in a community (eg by equipping older people to use digital services), will benefit from the work of volunteers and/or involve collaboration in the interests of beneficiaries.
- cannot be provided without this additional funding. The final stage of assessment of applications will include looking at the financial position of those applicants that meet all criteria, to judge where government funding is most needed. The award is subject to scrutiny of your full and complete accounts as part of due diligence to assess long term sustainability coupled with the requirement for imminent need.
Services must meet all of these aims to be eligible for this funding.
Reporting and Learning
Due to the nature of this funding organisations will be required to report monthly on spend and provide monthly updates on key output data, which will be defined at the grant offer letter stage.
As one of the aims of this fund is to gather learning on both the effect of Covid-19 on levels of loneliness and the effectiveness of measures taken to address them, organisations will need to build evidence gathering and learning into their processes.
At a minimum we would expect grant-holders to do the following:
- provide monitoring information – to be defined at grant offer letter stage, but likely clear monitoring information about how the money is being spent (what activities, who has benefitted)
- conduct evaluation activity in line with the five ethical principles of Government Evaluation see p76 of Central Government guidance on evaluation
We recognise that we are not funding new projects. However, we would be interested in learning how you will assess the effectiveness of your activity. For example:
- what outputs you expect to deliver as a result of funding, and how these will be monitored
- how you will measure what effect outputs have for example, by using the ONS loneliness measure where relevant and/or through qualitative methods
- how you expect to contribute to the wider evidence base on loneliness and social distancing / isolation measures
- how you will conduct evaluation activity in line with the five ethical principles of Government Evaluation see p76 of Central Government guidance on evaluation
Can I Apply?
- we will fund charities or benevolent and philanthropic organisations providing frontline services
- applications from consortia are not eligible for this funding
- we will not fund more than 20% of an organisation’s turnover through direct grants (and not more than 50% through grants made by umbrella organisations), as we do not want to destabilise charities through providing relatively short-term funding that requires them to scale up very quickly without sustainable funding to sustain this longer term
- we can only fund activities in England
What can I apply for?
- between £500,000 and £1,000,000 of grant funds to provide immediate targeted relief to those most at risk of loneliness, and to contribute to the evidence base on Covid-19 and loneliness
- 80% of funding must be spent by 31st October 2020, and all funding must be spent by 31st December 2020
Are you receiving/expecting to receive any additional support from other funders to support you through the crisis? We cannot fund any costs that will be covered from other funding, including government funding responding to the Covid-19 crisis, but we can match other grants which have a common purpose. Where an recipient has performed an Event of Default1, we reserve the right to clawback this funding.
Eligible and Ineligible spend
We will fund:
- frontline services which provide immediate, targeted relief for those at risk of or suffering from loneliness due to Covid-19
- proportionate costs associated with the activity around increasing the evidence base around loneliness and Covid-19, and sharing best practice
- proportionate administrative costs associated with the activity
- costs for delivery of the activity, including salaries and on costs2
- proportionate costs for IT equipment and training to encourage digital inclusion and permit digital delivery of services, up to the limit for capital assets within your accounts
- umbrella organisations who wish to give funding to local organisations underneath them
We will not fund:
- academic research or desk based projects
- campaigning and awareness raising
- capital assets (defined as: anything classified as a capital asset within your accounts)
- core costs – other than for those that can be evidenced as directly related to the project outlined in the application
- debts or loans
- fees for professional fundraisers
- major capital projects related to premises or buildings, including building purchase and refurbishment
- onward grants. However, we welcome applications from umbrella organisations who wish to give funding to local organisations underneath them
- party political organisations
- projects outside of England
- promotion of religious beliefs
- retrospective funding
- schools, colleges or hospitals
- services run by statutory or public authorities
How should I apply, and when is the deadline?
Completed applications should be returned to the Loneliness Fund team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is 12pm Friday 29th May 2020.