Plymouth wins bid to tackle social isolation and improve health

A new project to tackle social isolation and the effects it can have on health has been given the green light following an initial £50,000 funding and support from the King's Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF).

It is one of only six successful bids in the UK following more than 270 applications for grants.

The three year project is part a local Healthy Communities Together programme and will be led by the Plymouth Octopus Project (POP) in partnership with Plymouth City Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group, University Hospitals Plymouth, Livewell Southwest, and a number of local charities and social enterprises.

The first year of the project will see POP speak to community groups to establish the best ways of increasing social connections and combating isolation to improve health and wellbeing. POP will talk to people to identify what prevents them from feeling connected to their community and the impact this can have on their health. Further funding from the King's Fund and TNLCF will be available for future stages of the project.

Councillor Kate Taylor, Plymouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “Health inequality is a big issue for our community and this has been really highlighted by the current pandemic. Feeling isolated and not connected to their community can have a significant negative impact on a person’s health and their ability to seek help. 

“Funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and development support from The King’s Fund will help us with this long-term project to build greater social connection and improve health outcomes across Plymouth. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.” 

Matt Bell, CEO, Plymouth Octopus Project said: "Feeling connected to people around you is so important for your health. Evidence shows the significant detrimental impact of social isolation and we know people in poverty, experiencing mental health conditions and other issues are at greater risk. At POP we like to hope just as we are harmed by social isolation, our health actually improves when we're better connected. 

“Over the last nine months we have seen the amazing work of community to support those in most need - we want to sustain this momentum. This is why, at POP, we are excited to be leading on a project that will start a city-wide conversation about what we can all do to connected better with one another."

The King's Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund have joined forces to support genuine partnership-working in local areas between the voluntary and community sector, the NHS and local authorities to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities. The Healthy Communities Together programme offers up to £3 million of grant funding and £850,000 of leadership development support to place-based partnerships. In addition to funding, The King’s Fund will provide sustained support to partnerships throughout the Healthy Communities Together programme.