Barnsley CivicCreative Lives is managing a major new grants scheme for voluntary creative groups in England, as part of ‘Know Your Neighbourhood’ – a new fund created by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The pilot round of funding for this two-year programme has just been announced, with Creative Lives distributing four project awards and six partnership awards to organisations in five priority areas across England, totalling £154,450.

(Applications for round two have now closed and we will shortly be distributing around 50 more project and partnership grants across all 27 of the ‘Know Your Neighbourhood’ areas - see below for details of these areas. More information on who has received these grants will be available soon.)

We were very impressed by the quality of applications in this pilot round, and have awarded grants to creative projects that will tackle loneliness head-on through a diverse range of imaginative and well-thought-out projects. 

Click here to read full details, with photographs, of all the pilot projects listed below

Round One - Project Awards

Barnsley Civic - Eating Art Project (£9,950) - A community engagement project using design, craft and communal food sharing to bring together five disparate communities in Barnsley.

Great Yarmouth Centre for Community Writing - Language, People, Place (£9,997) – A weekly creative writing/reading group set up to develop creativity, counter isolation, and improve literacy skills and confidence while exploring topics through poetry, short stories and scriptwriting.

Freestyle Community Projects - Community Mosaic (£9,468) – A project to transform an underused public space in Middlesbrough through the creation of a community-curated mosaic.

Rideout - The Social Agency Arts Factory (£8,469) - An arts-based support group for autistic adults and adults with non-specific learning disabilities in Stoke-on-Trent.

Round One - Partnership Awards

Creative Recovery - Transformation Station (£20,000) - Creative Recovery supports people in Barnsley who are struggling with their mental health, offering a safe place to use creativity to find meaning and connection. In this project, participants will work with artists to create wearable art that voices something about the individual wearer.

Original Projects - Yarmakers: Crafting Connections in the Community (£19,715) – Based in Great Yarmouth, this project will focus on making and addressing themes of human and environmental resilience, featuring free creative workshops, socials, talks, screenings, exhibitions and events.

North East Opera - My Great Folk (£20,000) – A project to bridge social divides, create a sense of community and belonging and an understanding of everyone’s connection to Middlesbrough.

Father Hudson’s Care - The 4 C’s Project (£20,000) -  Four community organisations working with older people in Stoke, using creative activities to reduce loneliness and strengthen resilience and wellbeing in ageing communities.

Margate Pride bandstandDiscovery Planet CIC - Creative Learning Hub (£19,919) - Linking two high street shops in Ramsgate to create a hub offering open sessions led by community arts practitioners to explore lived experiences of health/wellbeing. 

Margate Pride - Queer Youth and Teatime Socials (£16,932) – A project to celebrate, make visible and provide year-round social occasions for LGBTQ+ people and allies to combat discrimination and isolation. 

These, and future projects soon to benefit from a Know Your Neighbourhood grant, will be closely followed to evaluate the impact of everyday creative activity on combating loneliness and increasing wellbeing. Creative Lives will be sharing the important learning and robust evidence gathered from this fund across the sector in due course.

Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Creative Lives said: “Creative Lives is a national charity that celebrates, encourages and champions people expressing themselves creatively in their everyday lives and practising their creativity socially with other people. We are excited to see how our Know Your Neighbourhood Awards will deepen public understanding of how and why being creative with other people can decrease loneliness and increase wellbeing.”

The Creative Lives ‘Know Your Neighbourhood’ grants are part of a wider fund which will see up to £30 million of UK Government funding distributed across 27 disadvantaged areas. The fund aims to create volunteering opportunities and support people who are experiencing, or at risk of, chronic loneliness. Grants will support volunteers and participants to take part in a wide range of activities such as talking cafes, skills-sharing sessions, arts and crafts groups and environmental conservation. 

Recent research has found that those living in the most deprived areas are more likely to report feeling lonely, as well as being less likely to volunteer. Research has also shown that loneliness is closely linked with mental health and wellbeing, and that certain types of volunteering opportunities can help connect communities and help people develop skills and grow their networks.

In a recent DCMS review, capturing the effectiveness of loneliness interventions, they found that arts and culture was the second most effective, topped only by psychological interventions. You can read more about the DCMS review here.

The 27 areas that the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund is being distributed within are: Barnsley, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, Bolsover, Burnley, Cannock Chase, County Durham, Doncaster, Fenland, Great Yarmouth, Halton, Hartlepool, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Kingston upon Hull, Knowsley, Middlesbrough, Rochdale, Sandwell, South Tyneside, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Tameside, Tendring, Thanet, Torridge, Wakefield, and Wolverhampton.

You can read more about the Know Your Neighbourhood fund on the UK Government’s website here.

[Photo credits: Top Right - Barnsley Civic by Lucy Dewsnap; Bottom right - Margate Pride by Mia Pollak]