PM announces £20 million funding for projects to tackle ‘devastating’ impact of loneliness

Twenty million pounds is to be pumped into projects that tackle the “profound and devastating impact” of loneliness, Theresa May has said.

The funding for community projects and charities that bring people together is part of the legacy of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox (pictured), who was killed by a white supremacist two years ago, the Prime Minister said.

It comes ahead of the Great Get Together from June 22 to June 24, which will see events take place across the country to celebrate Mrs Cox’s “more in common” philosophy on what would have been her 44th birthday.

Mrs May said said: “Feeling lonely or isolated can have a profound and devastating impact on people’s lives – it can affect anyone of any age and from any background.

“But just as loneliness can affect any of us, so any of us can help to overcome it.

“The new funding set out today will make a big difference, helping more people to establish and maintain connections.

“This will build on work already going on, including through the second Great Get Together this weekend, which will see people up and down the country celebrating the strength of their communities.

“This is just part of Jo Cox’s legacy, and I am determined we continue to take this forward.

“That’s why we need to do all we can to tackle loneliness, and our forthcoming strategy will build on today’s funding.”

More than half the money, £11 million, will form the Building Connections Fund, which will help open up spaces for community use and support projects that use technology to link people in remote areas and improve transport links to help people get together in person.

The Government has pledged £5 million towards the fund, with the same amount coming from the Big Lottery Fund and a further £1 million from the Co-operative Foundation (£1 million).

The rest of the £20 million comes from The People’s Postcode Lottery topping up existing grants to loneliness charities with £5 million, and £4 million from the Health Lottery to charities that “improve social links in disadvantaged areas across England”.

Last week saw the second anniversary of the killing of Mrs Cox, who was slain by neo-Nazi terrorist Thomas Mair in her Batley and Spen constituency on June 16 2016.

The Great Get Together was set up in her memory to encourage people to stage a range of activities designed to bring communities closer together, from dog walks to street parties.

Kim Leadbeater, Jo’s sister and part of the Jo Cox Foundation, said loneliness was a key issue to the late MP.

She added: “She would be so proud to see how much progress has been made in recognising the importance of building stronger and better connected communities to help reduce the terrible damage done by loneliness.

“I’m particularly pleased that this significant funding announcement is being made in the week that we remember my sister’s murder two years ago and celebrate the values she lived by with The Great Get Together this coming weekend.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jo Cox Foundation / PA Wire.