As communities ease out of Covid restrictions, loneliness and isolation will continue to be a major issue with knock on impacts on health.

While many eagerly await the return to a form of normality, such as returning to offices and the reopening of social spaces, countless others will continue to struggle with the physical and mental health issues* resulting from isolation due to the pandemic. Behind the official statistics, thousand more lives will have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

NHS Charities Together is funding projects to help at-risk groups access vital support and information, to ease pressures on teams and hospital services, improve access to quality care and reduce health inequalities.

Vulnerable groups

NHS Charities Together has recently awarded more than £4.8million for a range of projects to reduce health inequalities and readmissions to hospital.

A recent Ipsos Mori study** has found one in five people are concerned about isolation and its impact on mental wellbeing. While older people*** are particularly vulnerable, funds will also go to other at-risk groups including carers and ethnic minorities.

Projects to benefit from our latest round of funding include community outreach with ethnic minority communities known to be at increased risk of Covid-19 and befriending services for carers and disabled people, to reduce the knock-on effects on their health and wellbeing.

Supporting communities

Nottingham Hospitals Charity is among the many charities to have been awarded funds in the latest grants round. The charity has been granted more than £300,000 to fund a range of partnership projects including the expansion of South Notts Befriending Service, which saw an 84% increase in calls from June to November 2020, projects supporting vulnerable people to re-engage socially after shielding through a ‘Walk and Talk’ service and the recruitment and training of volunteers.

Barbara Cathcart, Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said:

“This funding from NHS Charities Together will make such a difference to help reduce feelings of isolation in our local community. Expanding these befriending services will have a hugely positive impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our local community at a time when they need it most. We will continue to support communities, during the pandemic and beyond.”

Ellie Orton OBE, CEO of NHS Charities Together, said:

“Thanks to our supporters, NHS Charities Together is helping individuals to rebuild their lives and communities to thrive. The toll of the Covid-19 pandemic has been vast and we have only scratched the surface in terms of understanding its long term impact on the health of the wider community. We know that by working in partnership with others we can help tackle issues like isolation and help take pressure off an overstretched NHS. So much more needs to be done which is why we are supporting the NHS through this period of recovery.”

Other charities we are supporting with funding for a range projects including those with a focus on tackling isolation include:

  • The Difference (Borders Health Board Charity) which has been awarded more than £50,000 to fund a range of initiatives including support for carers through collaborative partnerships between the charity and other third-sector organisations.
  • Fife Health Charity is supporting 12 projects thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together totalling over £80,000 to fund a range of schemes including conversational cafés with the Roma community and social activities with a partner charity in the community.
  • Leicester Hospitals Charity has been awarded more than £500,000 for seven projects including cookery workshops, group exercise, outdoor activities and social activities to support isolated individuals as well as adults living with a disability and those with poor mental health.
  • Swansea Bay Health Charity has been awarded nearly £170,000 to support a number of projects including those focused on tackling isolation in ethnic minorities by providing remote support, home visits, weekend resources, activities, counselling, and befriending services, particularly for older people with complex needs and adults experiencing poor mental health.

Support our work

Millions of people will continue to experience isolation long after Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, which is why we need your support to continue funding this vital work.

NHS Charities Together has so far allocated £125 million in a range of projects supporting staff, patients and volunteers.

Through its 240 NHS member charities covering the UK, grants have been awarded for projects include counselling services and helplines to help support the mental health of staff, bereavement support for families who have lost loved ones, long-Covid research, funding thousands of emergency volunteers and support in the community. Funding has also supported staff with practical needs like food, drink and a place to rest, enabling staff to continue with their vital life-saving work.

With the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS workforce, the threat of a third wave and clinics busier than ever, NHS Charities Together needs to continue to be there for the NHS and wider communities, which is why continued support from the public is so vital.

Help us to continue making an impact where it’s needed most.

*The campaign to end loneliness

**Ipsos Mori study ‘Covid-19 and mental wellbeing’

*** NHS article ‘Loneliness in older people’