‘Charity sector can lead the way in bringing people together’

Real-life insights and examples from the community and charity sectors are highlighting the ways in which people can build new connections across communities, according to a report from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

The Learning & Insight Report, published for Loneliness Awareness Week this week, was launched last Friday at a roundtable event for sector leaders working to bring communities together across the UK to address loneliness. The focus of the event was on opening up conversations around connecting people, sharing good practice and working collaboratively.

As a responsive funder, The National Lottery Community Fund supports hundreds of projects that address loneliness and social isolation across the UK. Just last week it announced almost £88 million awarded to over 3,000 projects across England this quarter, with many taking innovative approaches to bring people together.

The new report collates key learnings and insights from a diverse range of projects and shows that supporting people to improve their mindset, take small steps to build new connections with others, build confidence and develop a new sense of purpose, can have a big impact in reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

At last Friday’s event, speakers from National Lottery-funded projects – Bromley-by-Bow Centre and Fun Palaces – and other sector leaders came together to discuss the approach to connecting people across the UK. Other organisations in attendance at the event included Campaign to End Loneliness, the British Red Cross and Co-op Foundation.

The National Lottery Community Fund’s focus on connecting people is taking place alongside the Government’s own ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign, which will facilitate a national conversation with the aim of reducing the stigma of loneliness and raising awareness of the importance of social connections.

At the event, The National Lottery Community Fund also announced its new thriving communities model. Developed with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing to underpin all the Fund’s work, the model identifies the main elements that allow communities to thrive as supporting individuals to lead fulfilled lives, connect with one another and develop places and spaces they can use to make good things happen.

As part of a longer-term focus on bringing people together, the National Lottery Community Fund plans to produce a follow-up policy report later this year, using the thriving communities model to contribute to the ongoing discussion already taking place around the issue.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“As a funder, we see thousands of imaginative projects that bring people together and build connections. From knitting penguins in Scotland to building friendly benches in Leicestershire and beyond, people are connecting to people with small acts of kindness and generosity, having fun on the way. It’s inspirational and at the National Lottery Community Fund we are looking forward to supporting more brilliant ideas and activities in this space.”

To see the report, please click here.