Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Community funder brings charity workers together to reduce loneliness

THE National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, is helping to reduce loneliness amongst charity workers in the South West by launching an initiative to connect staff from community groups across the region.

Over 200 of The National Lottery Community Fund’s grant holders, from Gloucestershire to Cornwall, took part in the first ‘Coffee Club’. They were paired up at random to have a friendly chat over the phone or video, giving them the opportunity to share ideas and seek advice from their peers across the sector. 

For many charity workers now working from home, managing the increased pressure COVID-19 has placed on their services over the past few months has been particularly isolating.

Bev Price, Centre and Projects Manager at All Saints Church Community Centre, lives and works in rural Cornwall. She said:

“I was quite shocked to realise that the person I spoke with was the first person in six months I had spoken to that was not suicidal or a new client in crisis or in need of help. I have been the only worker running crisis lines, as well as the usual centre and office phone number, throughout lockdown, and it was really nice to be able to share ideas and chat to someone running a similar project.”

Her experience highlights a problem that is affecting people across the UK:

  • According to a survey conducted during the pandemic by the Office for National Statistics, around 2.6 million people across Great Britain said they feel lonely ‘often or always’
  • In another survey, undertaken by The National Lottery Community Fund, 47% of the 7000 UK residents surveyed cited ‘reducing loneliness and isolation’ as a priority for 2021.

Further National Lottery research shows that charity workers want to stay connected, share experiences, and seek advice from their peers about everyday issues that affect them. The Coffee Club aims to help them do just that.

The feedback was incredibly positive: 

  • Nine in ten (88%) people came away feeling ‘less isolated, understanding others are facing similar challenges’.
  • Three quarters (73%) came away with ideas that could help their organisation, and in turn the people it supports. 

Cassie Tait, Head of Creative Learning and Community Engagement at Wiltshire Music Centre, said:

“I really do love this initiative! It was great to connect with someone working in a very different setting and discuss common areas of youth voice, health and wellbeing and continuing our programmes through COVID-19. This was good for Wiltshire Music Centre, but also for me personally.”

After its success, this pilot scheme looks set to be the first in a series of Grantholder Coffee Clubs for The National Lottery Community Fund, and the groups it supports, nationwide. 

Rowan Miller, Head of Funding for the South West at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“We are so pleased that our first Grantholder Coffee Club has been such a success. It illustrates the importance of community and keeping the inspiring people working and volunteering for charities and organisations connected across the South West. So many of them have had to adapt to difficult and isolating working conditions, whilst also providing life-changing services to those in need. I am delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to help community leaders make new connections and share ideas.”

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Last year, we awarded over half a billion pounds (£588.2 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised each week for good causes throughout the UK.

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