£10m boost for volunteering in disadvantaged areas

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Sarah Colombini

UK Community Foundations is working alongside Arts Council England and Historic England to fund 167 organisations to create additional volunteering activities across the country.

10,000 people are set to benefit from £10 million UK Community Foundations funding in nine areas throughout England, thanks to a partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

From beach cleans to volunteer information vans, a wide range of projects have been funded to increase volunteering and tackle loneliness

More than 10,000 people are being supported by UK Community Foundations into volunteering and opportunities to build social connections thanks to the Government’s Know Your Neighbourhood Fund.

Over £10 million has been allocated by UK Community Foundations (UKCF) to create high quality volunteering opportunities and support people experiencing, or at risk of loneliness, in Wolverhampton, South Tyneside, Kingston-Upon-Hull, Blackpool, Stoke-On-Trent, Great Yarmouth, Fenland, County Durham, and Barrow-in-Furness. This will support over 10,000 people with access to opportunities such as befriending services, parent and toddler groups, lunch clubs and gardening activities.

Civil Society Minister, Stuart Andrew, said: 

“Loneliness is something anyone can experience, at any time. We know that volunteering can help people connect, as well as improving mental wellbeing and helping people develop new skills.

“This funding will mean those in some of the most disadvantaged areas across the country are able to volunteer in an area that interests them. From arts groups to skills development workshops, there are thousands of ways for people to get involved, meet new people and try new things.”

One of the organisations to benefit from the £10 million funded by community foundations is All Saints Action Network (ASAN) a community-focused enterprise that was awarded £99,000 by Heart of England Community Foundation from the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund. This funding enabled ASAN to hire a Volunteer and Community Involvement Officer who organises outreach programmes and opportunities for people from the community to volunteer in various activities, to support ASAN Wood Saints woodworking classes and a therapist who helps volunteers on a 1:1 basis.

Marie, a local resident and volunteer at ASAN Wood Saints, said:

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“My house got burned down, I got shot, I got stabbed, so I locked myself in my house for two years. I wouldn’t come out. Then I spoke to someone here. I was asked to come in as a volunteer. It’s built my confidence back up. I love the woodworking. I tend to come in on my day off as well, sit down and have a chat. It’s helped me with my PTSD and my mental health. I even started as a caretaker in August, which I get paid for.

“It’s brought my trust back up with people, knowing they trust me as well. Now, I get on my bike and I go for rides, and it’s all because of the help of ASAN. I can speak with people and I’m back to my old self. I can wake up now and get on with things instead of locking myself away all the time.”

Recent research has found that those living in the most deprived areas are more likely to report feeling lonely, as well as being less likely to volunteer. Research has also shown that loneliness is closely linked with mental health and wellbeing, and that certain types of volunteering opportunities can help connect communities and help people develop skills and grow their networks.

This article originally appeared in therooftop.news

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