Large grants are available for national organisations working to tackle loneliness and build social connections in England so that they can continue and adapt their work.

Fund Information
Funding body: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Maximum value: £ 1,000,000
Application deadline: 29/05/2020

The £5 million Loneliness Covid-19 Fund is provided and administered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Objectives of Fund
The funding is for national organisations working to tackle loneliness and build social connections so that they can continue and adapt their critical work.

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.

Value Notes
The total funding pot is £5 million.

Grants of between £500,000 and £1 million are being made available.

The Government 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 it does 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.

80% of funding must be spent by 31 October 2020, and all funding must be spent by 31 December 2020

Who Can Apply
Applications will be considered from charities or benevolent and philanthropic organisations providing frontline services.

To be eligible, services must meet all of the programme’s aims:

  • 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. The Government is not looking to fund innovations through this programme, although it is 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.
  • Services 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 the applicant’s full and complete accounts as part of due diligence to assess long term sustainability coupled with the requirement for imminent need.


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Applications from consortia.
  • Academic research or desk based projects
  • Advocacy
  • Appeals
  • Campaigning and awareness raising
  • Capital assets
  • 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
  • Individuals
  • Major capital projects related to premises or buildings, including building purchase and refurbishment
  • Onward grants. However, applications are welcome 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
  • Costs that will be covered from other funding, including government funding responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

Eligible Expenditure
The scheme 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 costs.
  • 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 applicant’s accounts.
  • Umbrella organisations who wish to give funding to local organisations underneath them.

How To Apply
The deadline for applications is 12pm Friday 29 May 2020. The funder aims to have decisions made by mid June 2020.

Guidance notes and the application form are available on the GOV.UK website.

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