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Fresh grant funding for projects as loneliness identified as biggest issue in East Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 16:30 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:42 21 April 2020

Age UK's Chinwag sessions in East Suffolk have received some support through the council's Hidden Needs grant programme. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Age UK's Chinwag sessions in East Suffolk have received some support through the council's Hidden Needs grant programme. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Plans to relaunch a support programme for isolated people in East Suffolk are in development, after loneliness was identified as the district’s biggest problem.

A map of the eight Community Partnerships in east Suffolk Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCILA map of the eight Community Partnerships in east Suffolk Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Six of East Suffolk Council’s eight community partnerships – smaller committees of public services featuring police, councillors, parish councils and healthcare services – identified loneliness and social isolation as a top priority.

MORE: Eight community partnerships to help solve local problems

A report published by the council revealed it was planning a relaunch of its Hidden Needs grant programme to address the problem.

The existing £40,000 pot has already been topped up with £20,000 in February, and will be bolstered by a further £40,000 to bring it up to £100,000.

Projects which help to reduce isolation and loneliness – particularly for older and vulnerable people in the community – can bid for up to £10,000 in support.

The report said: “A significant amount of work has already been undertaken on social isolation in East Suffolk, including the ground-breaking hidden needs mapping and associated Hidden Needs grant programme, which has to date enabled eight innovative community projects to tackle social isolation and loneliness among older people or families with limited resources in the hidden need ‘hot spots’ identified.

“However, the community partnership workshops clearly indicated that there is more to be done.

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“It is proposed to expand and relaunch the Hidden Needs grant programme, which currently focuses on older people and families with limited access to resources, based upon the updated mapping and the priority groups/areas identified for 2020.”

It is not yet clear when updated hot spot maps will be completed.

Projects to have been funded to date include he Everyday ActivEast sessions in Leiston, Felixstowe and Woodbridge; dementia friendly screenings at Bungay’s Fisher Theatre and new Age UK Chinwags groups in Aldeburgh, Beccles, Wickham Market and Woodbridge.

Alongside that programme, a new small grants fund will be established where each community partnership will be given £2,500 to help kick-start small scale projects which help reduce loneliness in grants of up to £500.

A series of issues were put to the eight community task groups to determine which was the priority, with others including availability of community buildings, mental health and wellbeing, and sustainable transport others to feature highly.

MORE: Approval given for East Suffolk community partnerships

Councillor Letitia Smith, cabinet member for communities, leisure and tourism, said: “A lot of work has already gone into tackling social isolation in East Suffolk, including the ground-breaking hidden needs mapping and associated Hidden Needs grant programme, which to date has enabled eight innovative community projects to help tackle social isolation and loneliness amongst older people or families with limited resources.

“I am delighted that the community partnership board has agreed to invest additional funding in the programme, as this will enable us to continue working with partners and local organisations on vital projects designed to tackle and prevent loneliness and social isolation in East Suffolk.”

More information on the scheme and how to apply can be found on East Suffolk Council’s website here.


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