Grants for 19 projects from our Winter Loneliness Round - read the results

  • Audio Content Fund issues another £297k in special round to combat Winter loneliness
  • 19 projects will reach an estimated 7 million listeners on more than 100 radio stations
  • Projects include short-form, comedy, fitness and wellness content, and artistic projects
  • All projects will be produced and broadcast before the end of March 2021

The Audio Content Fund has announced the recipients of grant funding for 19 special projects designed to combat loneliness this Winter, which it estimates will be heard by more than 7 million listeners.

Jump straight to the list of results

The new funded projects will broadcast across more than 100 different radio stations, and will be produced by 19 different independent production companies.  The fund, which is financed by the UK Government, has allocated £297k to the projects, after an additional grant from DCMS and the Office for Civil Society was announced in December.

The brief for the special round asked bidders to demonstrate how their idea would make listeners feel less lonely, and empower them to combat any loneliness they might be feeling due to lockdown restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The funded projects include a number of initiatives for younger audiences, including KISSfest Stories, a series of short-form packages celebrating the power of friendship and togetherness in the run up to the KISS Network’s virtual festival over the Easter Weekend, while I Have A Dream will present the heartfelt conversations of young people in Greater Manchester, The Midlands and Yorkshire on a network of community radio stations.  Targeting even younger listeners, Sharing Our Stories will encourage the young listeners of Fun Kids to beat loneliness by exploring their own family histories, while Soundlife will present radio made by young people for young people, to encourage expression, reduce stigma, and help listeners to develop coping strategies.

Exercise and wellbeing are the focus of several of the funded projects.  The Hits Radio Network in England and Wales will run a daily show throughout March all about running, entitled Hit The Streets.  Hosted by Gemma Atkinson, it will combine beat-matched soundtracks with inspiring content from motivational leaders and athletes.  Meanwhile, on the Union Jack network, The Running Punks Radio Show will present an alternative, counter-cultural running club with humour, music and support for all.  The Wellness Workout will be a “Joe Wicks workout for the mind” with mindfulness experts helping listeners to focus their thoughts across a network of community radio stations.  And Smooth Radio in the North East, North West and East Midlands will present Don’t Worry Be Healthy, a series of short-form advice packages from local athletes, sports stars, and fitness professionals about how to keep a fit body and mind.

The Nations are well represented in this funding round, with content broadcasting in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  U105 will broadcast Voices of Hope, a short-form series offering a range of support for isolated and lonely listeners, while Capital in South Wales and in Scotland will present You’re Not On Your Own, targeting listeners from 16-24 who may be feeling loneliness related to remote learning, social media anxiety, and separation from family, friends and colleagues.

Major stars will front a range of the projects in this round.  For the week beginning 15 February, to coincide with the Half Term week, Giovanna Fletcher will present We’ve Got This every lunchtime at 1pm, aiming to support parents struggling with the impact of the pandemic.  Homeschool Helpers, hosted by Helen Skelton, will help parents discover the best ways to manage home schooling their children, on a large network of Community Radio stations.  And, Gaydio will broadcast Call Me Mother, a series of conversations with LGBTQ+ luminaries to foster a sense of community across generational lines.

In another project on Magic, the 23rd March will see a Day of Reflection, exactly one year since the first of the national lockdowns began.  Stories from recognisable names and listeners will be shared across the day, with a national moment of reflection at 11am. This round also features the first ACF-funded project on Times Radio, with Lessons from Lockdown being shared across a week of output, from listeners and leading voices in entertainment, the environment, religion, business, politics and comedy.  And the builder’s station Fix Radio will present What Did Ya Do Last Night?, a short-form comedy and advice strand for tradespeople, offering humour and support based on NHS strategies.

Community Radio projects make up the remaining grants, with a range of ideas targeting different audiences.  Lightning Birds will be a game of “sonic tag” with 30 artists from around the UK combining to make a short radio feature on International Women’s Day.  House Rules will ask the audience to share their most negative thoughts, and then combat them with the help of experts and other listeners.  Companions will unite stations across East Anglia to support people suffering from loneliness with the help of local organisations.  

Sam Bailey, Managing Director of the Audio Content Fund, said:

“Once again, the UK audio and radio sector has shown its ability to mobilise quickly to develop brilliant ideas to support their audiences.  With these 19 projects, the industry is proving how much it loves and understands its audiences, and how good radio is at being a companion, a catalyst and a campaigner. More than 7 million listeners will benefit from this content, at one of the hardest times of the year, compounded by pandemic conditions.”

Results in full

(This list was updated in Sept 2021 to include links to all of the completed projects)

KISSfest Stories (working title)
We Are Grape Ltd, for KISS Network
52x 1min, from 29 March

A short-form series, broadcast every hour for a week (approx 06.00-18.00) across all three KISS networks (KISS, KISS Fresh and KISStory).  Featuring listeners, each package will celebrate the power of friendship and togetherness. They will talk honestly about how COVID restrictions have affected them, reminisce about shared fun times and, importantly, look to the future to leave the listener on a positive note. The series points to the return of KISSfest over the Easter weekend, which aims to create a shared dancefloor and connect listeners who cannot physically be together.

The Running Punks Radio Show
EatSleep Media Ltd for Union Jack National
8x 45min plus short-form, from 6 March

A twice-weekly radio show, bringing people together to get exercise and have a laugh.  Imagine a running club: slender people, expensive training gear and hi-tech watches. Now forget all of that! Running Punks is the counterculture running club for anyone who feels like a running club isn’t for them. You may be out of shape, hairy, tattooed, or not able to run – it doesn’t matter. The Running Punks Radio Show will pair group founders Jimmy or Rhodri with a different club member for a safe run as they present the show and talk about how they’ve been coping with the pandemic, and the biggest challenges in their lives.  With supporting material online, and packages broadcast across the week to involve as many listeners as possible.

What Did Ya Do Last Night?
Bingo Productions Ltd for Fix Radio
12x 4mins, from 22 February

Short-form comedy sketch and advice strand, supporting tradespeople struggling with loneliness as they remain working through the pandemic.  Hosted by comedy characters Lee & Dean, with Lee supporting Dean through a difficult period of isolation and loneliness.  Via their daily, chats, Lee gives Dean ideas for coping with his feelings of loneliness. Lee offers his usual brand of help, with additional support drawn from published NHS strategies. Dean’s struggle will be realistic, as will the help, but heightened for comic effect, with humour used to deliver a vital message to some of the hardest working people in the UK.

Voices of Hope
Visionworks (Television) Ltd for U105
10x 2mins, from 18 February

Innovative short-form series of perspectives on health, resilience and well-being, offering comfort, support and encouragement to listeners who may otherwise feel isolated and/or lonely in these challenging times. We will offer a platform for a variety of personal experiences which reflect cultural and community diversity, as well as the urban and rural characteristics of Northern Ireland. These will offer listeners practical tips and techniques to build resilience during Covid19 restrictions. The project is aligned to the objectives of the Northern Ireland Mental Health strategy.

Don’t Worry Be Healthy
Anything But Footy Ltd, for Smooth Radio North East, North West, East Midlands
15x 1min, from 15 March

Short-form series providing advice from local athletes, sports stars, gym instructors and performance directors on how to keep both body and mind fit and healthy on your own, with easy to follow hints to stay active.  Never before has the need to keep fit and healthy at home been more required than during successive lockdowns. Don’t Worry Be Healthy will help people maintain personal fitness and wellbeing, as getting physical can reduce levels of anxiety and distress by more than a quarter. 

You’re Not On Your Own
Bengo Media, for Capital Scotland, Capital South Wales
10x 5min (five packages on each station), from 22 March

A week-long short-form series to support Capital listeners in the Nations understand and tackle the loneliness they’re experiencing due to the Covid 19 pandemic.  Loneliness is currently a huge issue for the 15-24s. Remote learning, social media anxiety and separation from family, friends and colleagues is having a corrosive impact on young people’s mental health.  This series, contained with the Nations drive-time shows, will provide information and support based around a daily interview on both stations where local experts will provide context and help build listeners’ resilience to loneliness. 

Hit The Streets
Audio Always Ltd, for Hits Radio UK and Hits Radio Network in England and Wales
20x 30min, from 1 March

A daily Running show, broadcast every weekday in March, across the Hits Network. Hosted by Gemma Atkinson, the show will feature a meticulously beat-matched soundtrack mixed with motivational contributions from leading athletes and celebrities. Group physical activity is a great way for those who feel lonely to meet other people, meaning restrictions on social sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated isolation across the UK. Hit The Streets aims to be the UK’s most inclusive socially-distant running club so those who are lonely can feel part of a supportive, active community, encouraging listeners of all abilities to put on their headphones and listen as they run or jog. 

Lessons From Lockdown
Loftus Media Ltd, for Times Radio
20x 3min, from 21 March, and 1x 60min compilation episode

Rich audio montages broadcast across one week, as Times Radio focuses on what we’ve learn from the lockdowns of the pandemic.  What has lockdown taught us? That we miss pubs more than people, family more than friends, that we have a gift for making things, or a gift for doing nothing?  Listeners will share their stories about isolation, community and creativity, while personal stories from the worlds of entertainment, the environment, religion, business, politics and comedy deliver jumping-off points for presenter and audience interaction. 

We’ve Got This, with Giovanna Fletcher
EighteenSixty Ltd, for Magic Radio
5x 1hr, from 15 February

A half-term week of supportive programmes for Magic aimed at parents who might be struggling through a difficult winter – hosted by podcaster, author, mum, and winner of I’m A Celebrity 2020, Giovanna Fletcher. Each lunchtime (the new peak, for Magic’s locked-down audience) Gi will share advice and support combined with her own personal experiences on being a parent to young children, and dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.  We’ll hear from other parents, and take the opportunity to encourage, embolden and inspire action with plenty of laughs and smiles along the way.

Day of Reflection – 23rd March
Ultimate Sound and Vision Ltd, for Magic Radio
13x 2min, on 23 March

A series of features across an entire day, with both celebrity and listener contributions, reflecting on the past year as Magic marks the one-year anniversary since the first of the national lockdowns. With loneliness affecting people of all backgrounds, the ‘Day of Reflection’ offers a chance to unite listeners through the power of the human voice.  Stories from recognisable names and listeners will be shared across the day, with a national moment of reflection at 11am.

Sharing Our Stories
Woolyback Productions Ltd, for Fun Kids
20x 4min, from 15 March

Listeners of Fun Kids will take part in the loneliness-busting activity of gathering and sharing stories that help illustrate the multi-cultural landscape of the UK.  Coached in interviewing their parents and grandparents, and with the help of professional producers, storytellers and musicians, our young listeners interview and glean stories from their relatives, helping them to explore and share their own heritage, and alleviate the loneliness that particularly older family members may be feeling.

Sound Communities CIC, for a network of 7 Community Radio Stations
6x 10min

A six-part series of short radio features, made for and by young people about youth loneliness. The aim of the features will be to: connect young people; encourage the expression of feelings and vulnerability; reduce the stigma around loneliness; help young listeners to recognise if and when they are lonely; and to develop coping strategies to help them if they do. The features will support creativity, inspire social action, be entertaining and help young people to feel part of a community of listeners across the UK.

Lightning Birds: A Game of Sonic Tag
Stellaria Media Ltd, for a network of 13 Community Radio Stations
1x 1hr, on 8 March

A unique, fast-paced radio production challenge, responding to the 2021 International Women’s Day theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’. 30 artists from around the UK will make a short radio feature in a day. Creating meaningful connections through remote, artistic collaborations, this format is designed to fit with women’s overstretched lives and the increased pressures of being isolated at home during lockdown. The format asks 30 women from a network of artists and community radio practitioners to each make a two-minute, original piece from their own home. Each will have heard only the piece that comes before hers – and won’t hear the others until the broadcast.

House Rules
Opportunity Knox Ltd, for a network of 5 Community Radio Stations
20x 13min, from 1 March

Every morning for a month, House Rules will highlight issues and negative thoughts that might be going through the minds of listeners, and respond to them with ideas for ways to cope. Each day will present a different topic, followed by short, sharp, practical tips, with an underlying message of positivity.  Bored of the same four walls?  We’ll show you that you’re not alone, and invite interior designers to give advice.  Not sleeping well?  You and millions of others – we’ll bring a sleep specialist on air to help.  The style and format will be short, exciting and motivating, incorporating advice from experts, and success stories from relatable individuals.

The Wellness Workout
C60 Media Ltd, for a network of 6 Community Radio Stations
24x 4min

Imagine a Joe Wicks workout for the mind.  The Wellness Workout will be a two-week series of twice-daily features with mindfulness experts at breakfast and in an evening or weekend spot. Highly produced packages, designed to absorb the attention and focus the mind for a few minutes each day, will act as a talking point for presenters and bring mindfulness, mental health and wellbeing into the soul of each station.

Trevor Dann’s Company Ltd, for a network of 6 Community and Commercial Stations
22x 10min plus short-form, from 22 March

A 7-day audio campaign to reach local people suffering from loneliness during the pandemic, including short-form advice capsules and longer features about community groups.  The project will work with local organisations including Samaritans, schools, colleges, universities, faith groups, GPs, hospitals, care homes, arts groups, and music groups.

Homeschool Helpers
Listening Dog Media Ltd, for a network of 25 Community and Commercial Stations
15x 3min, from 15 February

Presenter and mum-of-two Helen Skelton is joined by different education and home-schooling experts, to help parents discover the best ways to manage home schooling their children. The series of features is designed to give very clear, practical help and advice to support home-schooling during this difficult time, when many parents are feeling isolated with the challenge of full-time parenting and teaching. Expect tips and tricks to keep your kids focused, alongside guidance on how to look after your own mental health during this challenging time.

Call Me Mother
SPG Productions Ltd, for Gaydio UK
8x 30min, from 7 March

A series of conversations with LGBTQ+ luminaries designed to foster a sense of community across generational lines. Each episode will tell the fascinating story of a remarkable, unsung queer pioneer, giving younger listeners in particular a tangible sense of the history and richness of queer culture. Coronavirus restrictions have isolated many of us, and with the physical aspects of the queer scene set to remain shuttered for the foreseeable future, many LGBTQ+ people are untethered from the community that is a vital part of their identity. Each episode will also invite candid observations about the queer experience and fascinating anecdotes about how the LGBTQ+ community has evolved over the decades.

I Have A Dream
Rising Stars NW CIC, for a network of 6 Community Radio Stations
20x 3min

A series of honest and heartfelt conversations with young people sharing their goals, dreams, aspirations, influences and hopes for the future, as way of connecting listeners across long distances at a time of isolation that challenges livelihoods and mental health.  The project will target college and university students, musicians, creatives, writers, radio presenters, artist managers, event promoters, DJs, notable figures and personalities across Greater Manchester, Midlands, and Yorkshire, all sharing what steps they are taking to realise their dreams in challenging conditions.