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New report reveals benefits of £650 million investment into community spaces over past five years

A new report published yesterday by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, reveals the huge difference made to people’s lives by improving the accessibility of vital community spaces.

  • £650 million of National Lottery, Government and third-party funding has been invested in community infrastructure over the past five years
  • This funding has supported the voluntary and community sector to undertake 10,000 building renovations and 900 accessibility infrastructure projects
  • 1,500 village halls and community centres have received £120 million of National Lottery funding in the past five years – that's four per local authority
  • The National Lottery Community Fund has helped communities acquire 600 spaces that were important to them and may otherwise have been lost in the past five years
  • 300 community businesses received emergency funding from The National Lottery Community Fund during the pandemic.

The report, named Connections Make Communities, explores the impact of £650 million in National Lottery, Government and third-party funding awarded by The National Lottery Community Fund in the past five years*. This has seen charities and community groups improve community spaces across the UK, from village halls and community centres to community-owned leisure centres and shops.

This investment has funded almost 10,000 building renovations to make these spaces greener and more accessible and comfortable for local communities, as well as nearly 900 accessibility infrastructure projects, providing improvements like lifts and ramps, so that all members of a community can enjoy their local facilities.

While making buildings more physically accessible is essential, the funder also recognises the importance of considering a wider range of adaptations to ensure places are fully inclusive. Thanks to £100,000 of National Lottery funding, Community First has brought together more than 350 village hall committees across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, ensuring that these spaces remain at the heart of communities. In a bid to reduce isolation and loneliness, the group has created a guide for dementia friendly village halls, which includes advice on how to make the design and layout of a building welcoming for people living with dementia.

“Village halls are lifelines and can often be one of the few places people can come together and participate in activities”, says Mark Herriott, General Manager at Community First. This is why 1,500 village halls and community centres have received crucial National Lottery funding in the past five years* across England and Wales. On average, that’s four community buildings per local authority area, totalling almost £120 million.

Power to Change is the funder’s largest investment in community enterprise – a charitable trust established with a £150 million endowment in 2015 to accelerate the growth and impact of community businesses. In its first five years, over £85 million has been awarded to nearly 1,300 community businesses including shops, pubs and factories. Two thirds (67%) of this went to the 30% most deprived areas of England, making an extraordinary difference to people’s lives in neighbourhoods where community buildings are fast disappearing.

Local residents in Norwich responded to the closure of the Colman’s Mustard factory in 2018 by setting up a campaign to start Norwich Mustard, a community-led business, aiming to keep mustard production part of the city’s identity. £6,000 was raised in crowdfunding, which Power to Change matched. The community-owned enterprise now has 140 member-shareholders and prides itself on making Norwich a better place to live and work - employing those furthest from the job market and developing their skills and experience.

The report also reveals that, over the past five years*, the funder has helped communities acquire nearly 600 assets that were important to them and may otherwise have been lost, from village halls and pubs to energy stations and housing developments. To address local needs and build community resilience in the face of economic challenges, the funder gave out emergency funding to over 300 community businesses during the pandemic, so they could keep running and continue providing essential services.

Faiza Khan MBE, Director of Engagement and Insight at The National Lottery Community Fund, yesterday said:

“This report highlights the impact money invested into community assets has on people’s lives across the UK. Places like village halls, community cafés and leisure centres are at the heart of our communities and provide a focal point for people to come together, make connections and build friendships and support networks. These spaces play a vital role in helping communities to prosper and thrive and will be more important than ever as communities rebuild from the pandemic.”

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players, who raise £36 million** each week for good causes throughout the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players last year, it awarded over half a billion pounds (£588.2 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK. To find out more visit


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