Our Report on the Social Isolation and Loneliness Winter Fund 2023

Wed 3 May 2023

“This is an extra layer of support. A few of us (patients) have swapped numbers and will be meeting up for coffee. This doesn’t take away from the support from our befrienders but its extra support for each other.” – Befriendee of project granted fund


In 2023, Befriending Networks were thrilled to be in partnership again with the Scottish Government, a collaboration designed to support projects within Scotland who are tackling social isolation and loneliness. Working as a respected partner of the Scottish Government, Befriending Networks managed a small grants programme which was available to our Scottish members in January 2023. Befriending Services have been a crucial part of the third sector response to tackling loneliness, but limited resources and rising costs remain a key challenge in meeting the needs of the many referrals they have received and some of the people they support.  Many of these service users are also those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Our aim was to direct funds to trusted and experienced befriending projects and to gather direct feedback of the impact of befriending to help inform the National Implementation Group and delivery of A Connected Scotland. 25 Befriending Projects in Scotland were awarded grants, spanning across 13 local authority areas, delivering projects to community members who were: Young People 16-24; Disabled People; Young Carers; Young Parents; and People aged 75+.

On average, the Social Isolation and Loneliness Winter Fund 2023 granted £1647 to projects. This SIAL Befriending Fund allowed projects to enhance support; expand support; provide volunteer expenses; provide meals; cover support and activities. 

“I sometimes have hot soup and a sandwich it is really nice and when it was cold the room was really warm and I didn't have to worry about my own heating bill, my son said I shouldn't worry but I do because I only get my pension. I feel a lot happier now.” – Befriendee of project granted fund
“Being able to share experiences and learn from each other about how to cope with day-to-day living and offer emotional support to each other is a vital part of support for many people like me.” – Befriendee of project granted fund


To read the full report on the Social Isolation and Loneliness Winter Befriending Fund, click here.