Community First Yorkshire has secured £99,555 from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Building Connections Fund, which it will use to help support and inspire more local action to ‘turbo-charge’ the county’s response to tackling loneliness.

People, of all ages and from all walks of life in North Yorkshire experience loneliness. The project aims to ‘connect’ people to the many activities provided by voluntary and community organisations and help people make new friends.

The funding comes from Her Majesty’s Government and National Lottery players, through a competitive bidding process at the end of last year.  

Community First Yorkshire is working with voluntary, NHS, local authority partners and private businesses to develop a North Yorkshire wide, all ages, Strategy for Tackling Loneliness and series of campaigns.

The project will use recommendations and examples of what has worked well elsewhere. Existing research will be used including Healthy Transitions, Growing Old in North Yorkshire[1], to learn more about the issues which the campaigns and organisations need to tackle. The North Yorkshire strategy will focus on the specific needs of the county, and mirror the national strategy for tackling loneliness.[2] The campaigns will encourage people, communities, public bodies and employers to think about, talk about and act on loneliness.

Leah Swain, Chief Executive at Community First Yorkshire, said: “Loneliness can come in many forms and we want to use this fund to work with partners to make sure support is reaching as many people across North Yorkshire as possible.

“Our aim is to get people thinking about loneliness and the easy things we can all do to help ourselves and each other connect with someone. Just making a cup of tea for someone can be that first important step to making connections.

“One area we’re keen to explore is to put ‘social’ pension planning alongside other plans which people might be making for their retirement, how will people maintain and develop new contacts and networks. We have financial plans for retirement but how many of us have considered our future social health? Meeting people through volunteering and learning can play a vital part in securing our mental and emotional resilience as we grow older. The same approach can also be taken for young people moving from one education setting to another, moving home or moving into work. 

“We’re excited to have been awarded this grant and I believe we’ll be able to make a positive difference to the lives of lonely people in North Yorkshire.”

The National Lottery Community Fund’s Building Connections Fund is the first ever government fund dedicated to reducing loneliness in England and will target people from all age groups and backgrounds.

The Building Connections Fund was created earlier this year through a partnership involving the government, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Co-op Foundation. The project will run until March 2021.