Building Connections Fund

Status: Open to applications
Deadline: 24th August, 2018


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.


Max Value: £100,000
Min Value: £30,000

Extended Description

The fund is split into two strands
All grants will be made by December 2018 and can run until March 2021, by which time all money must be spent. You can apply to both strands, however you cannot receive funding for the same project. We will share information between the strands to ensure we make informed decisions in cases where we have received similar applications.
Main fund strand
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.
We’re offering funding to organisations with existing projects that are already helping to build connections to prevent or reduce loneliness and want to do more to build on this work. We are interested in funding projects that could reach more people and / or join up with others and include ways of utilising existing expertise in the sector, increasing geographical reach and improving impact.
Youth Strand
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 – find out more on the Co-op Foundation blog.
The Youth Strand will be open to organisations with existing youth-focussed activities that could be effective at helping young people avoid long-term loneliness. Successful applicants will receive funding to explore youth loneliness in greater depth, test youth-led innovations within their existing provision, and share their learning as part of a national network. You will be supported to evaluate your activities and capture your impact, which will add to the evidence base.

Key Criteria

We’re interested in funding 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 you are working specifically with young people, you may be eligible to apply to our 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.

Eligability Expendeture

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

Revenue Costs

These 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 you will be working with an evaluator as part of your funding).

Capital Costs

We've had feedback that transport is fundamental to people’s ability to make social connections, particularly in isolated areas.

Because of this, you can apply for up to 30% of your funding of capital costs to buy, maintain or improve fixed assets that are linked to transport and travel.

You 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.

We can't fund:

  • advocacy or appeals
  • debts, loans or any type of retrospective funding
  • political activities or religious activity (although we are able to fund religious organisations if they are providing benefit for the wider community).


We can fund:
  • 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).
We can’t fund:
  • 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 we welcome applications 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.
  • You must also meet the following criteria:
  • The value of the grant requested in each financial year is not more than 50% of your annual income.
  • You are 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.
  • You have a UK bank account in your organisation’s name.
  • Your organisation has 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.
  • You will spend a minimum of 20% of your whole budget before 31 March 2019 and give evidence of your spend by mid April 2019.
  • You’re committed to working with our evaluator and implementing a shared measurement approach, and sharing the resulting evidence, data and learning.

Addresses and contacts 

Application forms may be available on their website.

0345 4 10 20 30

18001 plus 0345 4 10 20 30 (for those with a hearing or speech impairment)