Covid-19: UK's minister for loneliness funds new plans to tackle isolation

London - British government allocates Dh20.53m for series of projects to help bonding.

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Sat 8 May 2021, 5:25 PM

Diana Barran, who is the third minister for loneliness in the United Kingdom (UK) since the portfolio was carved out in January 2018, has allocated £4 million (m) (Dh20.53m) to tackle the modern scourge of isolation and loneliness, as Covid-10 restrictions ease following a considerable decline in new viral infections.

The Boris Johnson government said on Saturday that the fund would support a series of projects to bring people together.

Officials said the amount would be shared among charity and community groups and grassroots organisations involved in tackling social isolation. Projects across England, include songwriting workshops in Devon, dance classes in Bedfordshire, and online chat services in Durham, are in the works.

The numbers of new Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths have continued to fall in the UK in recent days and weeks, prompting the Boris Johnson government to reopen foreign travel for holidays from May 17 to 12 countries, including Portugal and Israel.

The funding is designed to help local organisations with an annual income of less than £50,000 (Dh256,837.40) to bring people and communities together, and help tackle loneliness and isolation in various ways.

It would cover the costs of technology and equipment to bring people together in a safe and secure way, besides seeking to strengthen their services through training and development to provide long-term impact, officials said.

Barran said: “As we emerge from lockdown, it’s critical to remember that some people will remain isolated, and loneliness will not simply go away”.

“This is why the government is committed to continuing to tackle loneliness as a national priority. The local organisations benefiting from these grants are a powerful way of connecting small groups of people across communities in England… I am confident that the commitments we’ve made will be a positive step towards ending the loneliness that has blighted so many lives in the past year”, she added.

The new funding coincides with one year since the Department for Culture, Media and Sport relaunched its long-running campaign, Let’s Talk Loneliness, to remind people that there is no shame in asking for help.

Officials said that since the beginning of the pandemic, over £34m (Dh124.89m) of the £750m (Dh2,754.90m) charity funding package has gone directly towards reducing loneliness, and a further £50m (Dh256,837.40) to organisations supporting people with their mental health issues.

In total, over 14,000 charities have benefitted.

They added that the world’s first government loneliness strategy was published in October 2018, containing 60 commitments from nine departments.


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