Voluntary Action South West Surrey wins Building Connections Big Lottery funding to help combat isolation and loneliness

VASWS Staff and Volunteers

Voluntary Action South West Surrey (VASWS) has been awarded a large grant from the Big Lottery Fund to help create a community hub in Guildford town centre. The new centre which will be called Community Point will help people find out about local activities that reduce and prevent isolation and loneliness.

The chief officer of Voluntary Action South West Surrey, Carol Dunnett, said: “Securing the Big Lottery Fund is fantastic for the community. We know from feedback and from other projects we run that there is a huge need for an easy, friendly accessible way to connect people to services.

“With this funding we will be able to offer support to a far wider range of people and the centre will be able to take referrals from a far greater range of agencies including Adult Social Care, GPs and other health professionals. People will also be able to self-refer.

“We are immensely proud to have been awarded this funding. It was a highly competitive process and to have been successful is a real endorsement of what we are trying to achieve.”

Isolation and loneliness is a serious issue in the UK that can severely affect mental wellbeing. A study by the Co-op and British Red Cross shows more than nine million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely.

Thanks to funding from both Her Majesty’s Government and National Lottery players, the Big Lottery Fund will enable VASWS to help improve these issues, by building on its existing volunteer centre to become a recognised source of information in the community.

As a community hub, VASWS will have trained volunteer advisers who will engage with people who are experiencing isolation or loneliness explore activities they would like to do in the area, identify what is manageable for them and signpost activities and others that could help them if they are lacking confidence.

Those in need of advice can either drop into the centre or contact the advisors by telephone, text message or the website.

Judith Segal, a VASWS trustee and volunteer adviser, added: “I am really excited about this new project. It will enhance the great services we already offer and make the Guildford and Waverley communities even more welcoming and supportive than they are now.”

VASWS will launch the community hub in early 2019.