We are pleased to announce that we will be managing part of a new government programme that will fund library projects reducing loneliness and widening volunteering opportunities.
The scheme is part of the Know Your Neighbourhood (KYN) Fund, a £29 million package of funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), designed to widen participation in volunteering and tackle loneliness in 27 disadvantaged areas across England.
We are one of three delivery bodies working in partnership with Arts Council England to deliver £5 million of the KYN Fund to arts and culture organisations. The other organisations are the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and Creative Lives.
Examples of projects that could be funded in libraries include employing a volunteer co-ordinator, providing additional pre-school activities, offering games for older people or extending opening hours to provide social activities. A key focus of the programme will be to generate and share learning on how people in disadvantaged areas can be supported to volunteer and improve their social connections, which will help to support sustained action beyond the lifetime of the fund and in other areas of the country.
The KYN Fund will run until March 2025, with successful projects starting in 2023-24 after a period of development.
Here you can find a link to the DCMS website explaining how the areas were chosen.
Isobel Hunter MBE, chief executive of Libraries Connected, said:
We’re thrilled that public libraries will have access to this funding, which will make a real difference in their communities. Libraries are all about improving connections so it’s natural that they should play a key role in delivering the Know Your Neighbourhood objectives. We’re especially pleased that the programme will focus on gathering evidence and sharing learning, so that library services across the country can benefit.
Rebecca Blackman, Director of Engagement and Audiences at Arts Council England, said:
We're delighted to be working with DCMS and our partners Libraries Connected, Association of Independent Museums, and Creative Lives to strengthen the amazing work already being done by Libraries, Museums, and Voluntary Arts Groups in bringing creativity and culture to communities throughout England. During the pandemic, we saw how participating in creativity and culture can help alleviate loneliness and isolation, and foster connections. This programme will offer even more exciting opportunities for people while they connect with others, meet new people, and make a positive impact in their community through volunteering.
We are in touch with libraries in the 27 eligible areas to support their engagement with the project. If you have any queries, please contact Tessa.Blades@librariesconnected.org.uk.