NHS Charities - Loneliness and Isolation - guidance notes

1. Background and purpose of the scheme

NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) has made £400k funding available across Staffordshire and Stoke Integrated Care System (ICS) footprint to support community partnerships in recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on the wider community. The Staffordshire and Stoke ICS covers both health and Social care organisations and partners operating across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. NHS organisations, Local Authorities and lead Voluntary sector organisations are working together to develop the Tackling Loneliness and Social Isolation Fund. We are also seeking Expressions of Interest to be part of this bid from wider community and voluntary organisations and this EOI is your opportunity to demonstrate that you wish to be considered as part of this bid. If successful you will be expected to work with the partnership to meet the requirements as stipulated by NHS Charities.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how resourceful and resilient our communities are. The Covid-19 pandemic impacted on Voluntary and Community organisations large and small and we have seen established organisations step up and new organisations form. The demand on the local voluntary and community sector has been significant during the pandemic with may reporting their support to reduce loneliness and isolation through the pandemic.  

However, the issue of loneliness and social isolation had been identified as a key priority pre pandemic and something that can affect people of all ages at any time in their lives regardless of where they live or where they’re from. Staffordshire research identified at a district level, residents aged 65 and over in Cannock Chase have a higher probability of feeling lonely and individuals in Lichfield have the lowest predicted prevalence of loneliness. The national data taken from the Community of Life survey 2019/20 (which can be found on the Government's website) found the following:

  • 47% of adults (16+) experience some degree of loneliness. 
  • 6% of adults reported they often or always feel lonely. 
  • Men were more likely to say that they never felt lonely than women (25% compared with 18%).
  • People aged 16 to 24 were more likely to say they feel lonely often/always (10%) than age groups of 35 years and over (4-6%).
  • People with a limiting long-term illness (LLTI) or disability were more likely to say they felt lonely often/always than those without (14% compared with 4%).
  • Those living in the most deprived areas were more likely to feel lonely often/always than those living in the least deprived areas (9% compared with 4%).
  • No significant variability was seen between the different ethnic groups or region. 

National and local research has shown the pandemic has exacerbated the impact of loneliness and social isolation across different groups and it’s too early to know what the long-term impact will be. A report can be viewed on the Parliament website (PDF). 

The House of Commons Briefing paper on Tackling Loneliness identified evidence of local action that can work to tackle this issue - this can be found with a Google search. This can be categorised into 4 themes as follows: 

  • Foundation Services: using existing services to reach people at risk of loneliness and isolation
  • Direct Interventions: maintain and enable social connection through interventions such as group activities and befriending services.
  • Gateway Services: help to keep people engaged and connected, including through technology and planning.
  • Structural Enablers: create the conditions for social connection, including asset-based community development and positive ageing.

Through the funding made available via NHS charities we want to support local groups, community and voluntary sector organisations to identify projects that will focus on reducing the impact of social isolation and loneliness across Staffordshire and Stoke ICS.

2. The amount available

The partnership can bid up to £400,000 across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent ICS.  If successful, the partnership bid will identify our intention to distribute the funding to local community groups and voluntary sector organisations operating in the ICS who can meet the needs of those at risk of being lonely or isolated. Based on local and national insight there are some to groups that are at higher risk of loneliness and social isolation that we wish to target.

  • Older People - widowed and living alone
  • Young People (16-34-year olds)
  • People with Long term conditions            
  • People with learning difficulties  
  • People with multiple disabilities

These residents are some of the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to ensure the community and voluntary sector will be there to support them.

The support you provide should be available for 12-24 months from grant award and your group / organisation will need to provide evidence of how you will reduce loneliness and social isolation. The available funding covers a two-year period, released in two tranches, with the second tranche dependent on receipt of a preliminary report. Successful EOI applicants will therefore be required to submit a report (times to be confirmed) to support the Partnerships overall preliminary report submission. Second year funding will only be released to successful applicants if the Partnership receives funding for year two and applicants have submitted a report.

If successful with the bid the partnership is looking to fund 3 projects up to £50,000. This will include one project in each place-based area. In addition, at least 9 projects of up to £25,000 will be allocated for bids in each district/Borough. The three place-based partnership areas are indicated below alongside the 9 district/borough/city council, areas: 

  • North place based partnerships
    • Stoke Council
    • Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council
    • Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
  • South east place based partnerships
    • East Staffordshire Borough Council
    • Tamworth Borough Council
    • Lichfield District Council
  • South west place based partnerships
    • Cannock Chase District Council
    • Stafford Borough Council
    • South Staffordshire Council

Expression of interests will be reviewed by panel members using a set criterion: 

  • Identification of need
  • Methodology and evidence of intervention
  • Monitoring and evaluatiion methods

3. How to apply for an expression of interest and timescales

The intention is to submit a bid to the NHSCT by December 2021. If successful we anticipate funding will be released in the New Year 2022. The earliest anticipated start date for the programme will be April 2022.

To apply for an expression of interest, please apply using our online form. The form will only be available for 4 weeks, the deadline is 8am on Monday 8 November 2021. 

You will be informed if we have included your EOI in the application and the process of how funding will be released if the Partnership bid is successful. 

Decisions will be based on how well the applications meet the criteria.  All decisions are final, and the panel will be looking for a good geographical spread of applications.

Please note: the support that groups will provide because of a successful bid will be promoted on Staffordshire Connects and Stoke Community Directory and other partner organisations will be signposting residents to your project.

4. Who can apply and what can the grant be used for?

We are looking for EOI from Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire local community and voluntary sector groups only. You don’t need to be a registered charity, but the work you want us to fund must be legally charitable and a non-private bank account must be made available. Match funding is not essential, but we would encourage groups to seek funding from multiple sources where they can. Groups are encouraged to seek support, where appropriate, e.g. from Support Staffordshire/VAST prior to submitting their proposal.

5. What will we fund?

EOI must show how they meet the focus of the fund and detail how they will work to combat Loneliness and social isolation. This could include things such as:

  • Using existing services to reach people at risk of loneliness and isolation
  • Maintain and enable social connection through interventions such as group activities and befriending services.
  • Help to keep people engaged and connected, including through technology and planning.
  • Create the conditions for social connection, including asset-based community development and positive ageing. 

6. What won't we fund?

  • EOI is not open to business or statutory organisations.
  • The fund is not intended to directly fund commercial activities but can be used to signpost people to local businesses and organisations

7. Evaluation

We will ask each successful applicant to measure the impact and outcomes and prepare a preliminary report prior to the end of year 1 of the project. If further funding is released for year two, we will expect successful EOIs to submit regular performance report. (to be determined).

8. Publicity

The Partnership will want to promote and publicise successful EOI and will encourage partners to signpost to your scheme. We will do this in partnership with you.

All successful organisations, where possible, should also register and share details of their project on Staffordshire Connects and Stoke Community directory.  


This guidance has been developed alongside with the partners for the programme: 

  • NHS Charities together
  • NHS University Hospitals of North Midlands
  • Support Staffordshire
  • Stoke on Trent City Council
  • Staffordshire County Council 
  • NHS North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare
  • NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Vast 
  • Together we're better
  • UHNM charity
  • The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Charity

Contact us

If you require any further assistance, please contact Michaela - Michaela.Quinn@uhnm.nhs.uk

Evaluation bid weightings

Evaluating responsesJudgement
Meets all requirements and offers some added value Excellent
Meets all requirements Good
Generally meets all requirements with minor issues Fair
Meets some requirements with a few major gaps / issues Doubtful
Meets few requirements; serious concerns Poor
Does not meet any requirements or fails to answer Reject

NumberCriteria and weighingYes / No question?Sub-category weighting (%)
1 Organisation - 0%
1.1 Organisation meets required criteria Yes N/A
 2 About your project - 40% 
2.1 Project title N/A  N/A 
2.2 When would the project start?  Yes  N/A 
2.3 How long will the project run for? Including key milestones  No  10 
2.4 Short summary including aims and objectives of the project  No  25 
2.5 Barriers to mobilisation of the project  No 
3 Evidence of need for the project - 10% 
3.1 Specific needs that have been identified  No  5
3.2 Overcome loneliness and isolation  No  5
4  Project beneficiaries - 25%
4.1 Geographical areas (s) (for information only)  N/A  N/A 
4.2 Communities / groups targeted  No  10 
4.3 Price per person  No  10 
4.4 Marginlised and vulnerable groups are included  No 
5 Project costs - 15%
5.1 Level of funding  No 
5.2 Costs and breakdown  No  10 
6 Evaluation - 10%
6.1 Measure improvements in the wellbeing  No  2.5 
6.2 Outcome measures and KPIs  No  2.5 
6.3 Continuation beyond potential funding, sustainability  No  2.5 
6.4 Policies and insurance  No  2.5 
7 Declaration - 0%
7.1 Declaration (for information)  N/A  N/A 
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