THE new organisation Oldham Cares is launching a new “social action fund” to tackle isolation and loneliness in communities across the borough.

This follows the move to bring local health and social care systems closer together under the banner ‘Oldham Cares’, as NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, Oldham Council and a number of their partners and providers - including Bridgewater NHS, MioCare, Northern Care Alliance and Pennine Care Foundation Trust.

Around 10 per cent of local residents across all ages currently self-identify as being lonely.

That is a figure mirrored nationally and leads to impacts on health and mortality which are as important as other risk factors like high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

That’s why Oldham Cares’ thriving communities programme is now making £850,000 available to fund two to four projects over a three-year period that will help people to become more socially connected.

Applications are sought from the voluntary, community and faith and social enterprise sector (VCFSE) and partners who can show how their proposed project will improve residents’ lives.

The projects will need to reduce social isolation and loneliness, as well as meeting one or more of Oldham Cares’ priorities for health and wellbeing which are: Reducing waiting times at A&E; improving mental health, tackling child obesity, preventing diabetes, and improving out of hospital care and support.

Full details and an expression of interest form are available now on the Oldham Cares website.

A “Meet The Funder event” is also being held on December 10 from 9am to noon at Oldham Civic Centre enabling interested parties to find out more and help us to shape and develop ideas leading into the next stage of the fund process.

Cllr Zahid Chauhan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said “Social isolation and loneliness is on the increase and that’s why we are making a real commitment to tackling this in Oldham with a community-led approach.”

“This is just one way we are tackling the issue and we’re looking forward to working with successful applicants to build on the strengths that already exist within our communities.”

Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding added: “This is a really exciting opportunity that can help to make a real difference to many people’s lives across our borough.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming applicants to the Meet The Funder event where we can share innovative ideas about how we can connect people to each other, and help them to enjoy everything their community has to offer.”