Youth clubs, mental health charities and social enterprises are among the organisations to benefit from up to £30 million to create volunteering opportunities and help reduce loneliness.

Know your neighbourhood graphic
  • 27 disadvantaged areas, from Wakefield to Wolverhampton, will be supported to create new volunteering opportunities for local residents to help their communities
  • The new Know Your Neighbourhood Fund will support charitable projects to connect communities backed by up to £30 million
  • Projects set to benefit include initiative to help parent carers take part in volunteering, and training for young people to become accredited sports coaches

Launched by the government working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund, Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and UK Community Foundations (UKCF), the ‘Know Your Neighbourhood Fund’ will support local organisations in (27 areas) to increase their offer of projects that enrich lives to help improve wellbeing and social connections.

View the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund Projects (ODS, 27.4 KB)

Recent research has revealed that adults were more likely to report feeling lonely if they lived in a deprived area, and that areas with higher rates of unemployment tend to have higher rates of loneliness.

Volunteering opportunities help to connect communities, help people to develop skills and grow their networks; and help public services serve local communities.

With locations including Barnsley, Middlesbrough and South Tyneside, funding will help develop volunteering programmes, provide 1-1 support for vulnerable residents, fund new activities such as arts and crafts, sport and coffee sessions, and support social community events amongst other projects.

Examples of the beneficiaries include:

  • Groundwork is a federation of charities aiming to create vibrant, green, neighbourhoods. Thanks to funding of £25,000, more volunteering opportunities have been created in the garden, café, reception and library at their Grange Park Community Hub, Blackpool. This offers volunteers the chance to develop skills, socialise and connect with their local community, with funds providing training and 1-2-1 support.
  • Motive8 Youth C.I.C is a non-profit organisation ​​using the power of sport to engage and empower young people in Wolverhampton. £20,000 funding has been used to recruit 20 young people to undertake an eight-week challenge, including training to become an accredited sports coach, mentoring, undertaking volunteering sessions, and delivering a social action campaign.
  • A Stitch Different CIC is a social enterprise made up of parent carers of young people with autism, ADHD, sensory and other disabilities in Barrow-in-Furness, who create weighted, compression and sensory products. With a fund of nearly £4,000, the organisation is working with older adults who have mental health issues, encouraging parent carers to volunteer to reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Age UK Hull is a charity working in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire offering support and services to older people. The project has received nearly £27,000 to widen its Home Befriending Service in Kingston upon Hull, expected to support over 170 individuals suffering from isolation by providing regular home visits to older individuals.

Civil Society Minister Stuart Andrew said:

During the Covid-19 pandemic, dedicated volunteers and charity workers came together to support our communities in a real time of need – from taking time to check in on neighbours to delivering prescriptions.

We are determined to capture this brilliant spirit and see it continue, which is why I’m delighted to announce the launch of the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund. With funding already being allocated, this will create more opportunities for people to volunteer, learn new skills and connect with their communities across the country.

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO, UK Community Foundations said:

Loneliness can impact anyone at any time in any community, and the work of voluntary organisations to reduce isolation and loneliness has been in higher demand since the pandemic.

The Know Your Neighbourhood Fund has enabled community foundations to provide vital support to initiatives that encourage impactful volunteering and community connectivity in some of the country’s most vulnerable areas. Over the next three years, the insights we learn will help us to understand the issues impacting volunteering and social inclusion, and we’re so grateful to the Government for this opportunity.

Elsewhere, the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund will create volunteering opportunities in local museums, voluntary arts groups such as community choirs, music and drama clubs, and connect communities through projects related to their high streets. This work will be supported by £5 million to creative arts and cultural organisations through Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.

A number of projects will be expanded following support from the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund, supported by up to £10 million from The National Lottery Community Fund. Examples of where this funding will go include:

  • Rochdale Connections Trust has worked to support local people living across the Borough of Rochdale for over 20 years. Know Your Neighbourhood funding will enable the organisation to utilise a social prescriber to re-engage those who have become isolated, detached and lonely by developing a range of activities that meet the needs of the local community.
  • Jack Drum Arts in County Durham aims to deliver an inter-generational project bringing people of all ages together to participate in regular weekly activities, culminating in a community carnival. Activities include arts and wellbeing sessions such as drumming, singing, dance, carnival costume and prop making, with participants volunteering to support the delivery of activities and organising of the community carnival.
  • Centre 81 is a skills and activities centre for people with disabilities in Great Yarmouth. Funding will allow the project to create a supportive place for people to socialise within the newly refurbished Yare House, providing a welcoming coffee and lunch space with the opportunity to take part in a range of different activities such as crafts, cooking and woodwork.

This funding builds on the almost £50 million the government and its partners have invested in tackling loneliness since 2018, including over £34 million in response to COVID-19 as part of the £750 million voluntary and community sector funding package. This is in addition to the £4.6 million Volunteering Futures Fund launched in 2022, which will allow more than 160 community organisations to support 7,800 new volunteering opportunities.

Notes to editors

  • The Know Your Neighbourhood Fund will be distributed within 27 areas identified as being disadvantaged. These are: Barnsley, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, Bolsover, Burnley, Cannock Chase, County Durham, Doncaster, Fenland, Great Yarmouth, Halton, Hartlepool, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Kingston upon Hull, Knowsley, Middlesbrough, Rochdale, Sandwell, South Tyneside, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Tameside, Tendring, Thanet, Torridge, Wakefield, and Wolverhampton.
  • Funding from UKCF will be distributed within 9 local authority areas: Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, County Durham, Fenland, Great Yarmouth, Kingston-upon-Hull, South Tyneside, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton. Further rounds of funding will follow later in 2023 and in 2024.
  • Local community foundations will contribute at least an additional £1.5m of funding to their funded projects.
  • Details of how to apply for this funding.
  • DCMS is backing the country’s powerhouse sectors to grow the economy and make a difference where people live.
  • The civil society sector is worth at least  £16 billion to the UK economy. There are 951,000 jobs in the sector, over 50,000 more jobs than in 2019 before the pandemic.

Additional quotes

Rebecca Blackman, National Director for Engagement and Audiences and Area Director for the Midlands, Arts Council England said:

We’re delighted to be working with the Government and our partners Libraries Connected, Association of Independent Museums, and Creative Lives to strengthen the amazing work already being done by Libraries, Museums, and Voluntary Arts Groups in bringing creativity and culture to communities throughout England. During the pandemic, we saw how participating in creativity and culture can help alleviate loneliness and isolation, and foster connections. This programme will offer even more exciting opportunities for people while they connect with others, meet new people, and make a positive impact in their community through volunteering.

Eilish McGuinness, CEO, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

I am delighted that the Heritage Fund is working in partnership with Historic England to deliver an additional investment of £572,368 from DCMS, through the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund.

The funds will be used to demonstrate the role of heritage in revitalising local high streets by delivering impactful volunteering, tackling loneliness and increasingcommunity wellbeing, in places where it’s really needed.

Phil Chamberlain, England Director, The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

Addressing issues of loneliness and mental health have long been priorities of ours at The National Lottery Community Fund, particularly through the current cost of living challenges and the impact of the pandemic. The Know Your Neighbourhood Fund will provide increased opportunities for volunteering, bringing people together, and supporting communities to thrive. Thanks to National Lottery players raising over £30 million each week for good causes across the UK, we’re able to support great initiatives like the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund.

Published 9 March 2023