Funding News

Big Lottery Fund Invites Applications to New Fund to Tackle Loneliness

The much anticipated Building Connections Fund has opened for applications for current projects in England that are tackling loneliness by building strong social connections and welcoming communities.

The £11.5 million Building Connections Fund is a partnership between Government, Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op Foundation which was set up in response to the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness to support projects that prevent or reduce loneliness.

Building Connections Fund

Status: Open to applications

Application Deadline: 24 August 2018


Grants are available for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to support projects that prevent or reduce loneliness and help people, communities and local services connect in a variety of different ways in England.


Maximum Value: £100,000

Minimum Value: £30,000

Value Notes

Nearly £9 million is being made available for this fund.

Grants of between £30,000 and £100,000 are available.

Projects do not have to be a set length of time but must be finished by March 2021 and start by January 2019.

Extended Description

The £11.5 million Building Connections Fund is a partnership between Government, Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op Foundation which was set up in response to the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness to support projects that prevent or reduce loneliness.

The fund aims to:

  • Increase social connections, helping people form strong and meaningful relationships and creating a sense of community and belonging, and helping people feel more connected.
  • Support organisations to build on their existing work, eg by reaching more people, or working in a new area or with a different method or group of people.
  • Encourage organisations to join up with others locally.
  • Improve the evidence base and use learning to inform longer term policy and funding decisions.

The fund is split into two strands:

  • The Main Fund is made up of close to £9 million, which will be distributed by the Big Lottery Fund, making grants of between £30,000 and £100,000. It is open for applications now.
  • The Youth Strand is made up of £2 million, which will be distributed by the Co-op Foundation, making grants of up to £80,000. It will open for applications in August 2018.

Latest Information

The deadline for applications is 24 August 2018 (12 noon). Awards will be made by December 2018 and projects can be funded until March 2021.

Key Criteria

Applications will be considered from:

  • Charities.
  • Community and voluntary sector organisations.
  • Social enterprises.
  • Community interest companies (with two or more directors).
  • Groups or organisations working in partnership (as long as they are led by a voluntary and community sector organisation).

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • The value of the grant requested in each financial year is not more than 50% of their annual income.
  • Be applying to extend or increase the reach or impact of an existing project.
  • Grants cannot be used to deliver existing work currently being funded by anyone else.
  • Have a UK bank account in the organisation’s name.
  • Have at least two unconnected people on the board or management committee (not related by blood or marriage or living at the same address). Unregistered organisations should be constituted.
  • Spend a minimum of 20% of the organisation’s whole budget before 31 March 2019 and give evidence of the spend by mid April 2019.
  • Be committed to working with the fund’s evaluator and implementing a shared measurement approach, and sharing the resulting evidence, data and learning.

Eligible Expenditure

The funding is for projects that:

  • Make the best use of community assets and joining up local services to connect people in different local places, from urban to rural, in the workplace, community hubs or pubs or facilitating social mixing in local buildings, indoor and outdoor spaces, and parks. Or in different ways, using digital or technology, transport and travel, participating in sport or volunteering.
  • Enable communities to bring people together and build connections, helping people across all ages, who may be more likely to feel lonely, and encouraging those who are at highest risk of loneliness to participate. If groups are working specifically with young people, they may be eligible to apply to the Youth Strand of the fund.
  • Understand more about the individual benefits of preventing loneliness and what works, resulting in benefits to people's health and well being, so that they live longer, healthier, more independent lives and improve their opportunities for employment.

The funding must be spent on activities that will directly prevent or reduce loneliness and help to build connections between individuals and communities.

Revenue costs could include (but are not limited to):

  • Staff salaries.
  • Training and organisational development.
  • Equipment to facilitate activities.
  • Venue hire.
  • Communications campaigns.
  • Marketing.
  • Project activities and other resources to help run the project or intervention.
  • Resources to implement or develop the project.
  • Costs for learning and evaluation (recognising that applicants will be working with an evaluator as part of their funding).

Capital costs – applications can be made for up to 30% of their funding of capital costs to buy, maintain or improve fixed assets that are linked to transport and travel. Applicants will need to secure competitive quotes on all purchases, keep a record of any assets acquired or improved with the funding, and may be subject to additional conditions.


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Individuals or sole traders.
  • Applications made on behalf of another organisation.
  • Organisations aimed at generating profits primarily for private distribution.
  • Organisations that are mainly fundraising bodies or fees for professional fundraisers.
  • Schools, colleges and hospitals.
  • Statutory duties, or services run by state or public authorities, however applications are welcome for projects joining up with statutory organisations and involving both voluntary and public sectors, provided they are led by and funding is only received a voluntary organisation.
  • Advocacy or appeals.
  • Debts, loans or any type of retrospective funding.
  • Political activities or religious activity (although religious can be funded if they are providing benefit for the wider community).

Application Procedure

The online application form and guidelines can be found on the Big Lottery Fund website.

Contact the Big Lottery Fund for further information.

Addresses and contacts

Application forms may be available to download on this site - please see the downloadable files on the right hand panel at the top of this page - or alternatively please check the funding body’s own website.

Contact details: Big Advice Line

Big Lottery Fund
Floor 6
No 1 Kingsway
CF10 3JN

Telephone: 0345 4 10 20 30


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