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UK communities supported through turbulent 2020, thanks to £650 million of National Lottery funding

New figures released today reveal that over £650 million has gone to communities across the UK throughout 2020*, thanks to National Lottery players. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 this year, vital National Lottery funding has supported communities to keep going up and down the country and helped local good causes to respond at pace.

The money, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, has been used by thousands of community projects to overcome some of this year’s obstacles, to deliver crucial support and bring a sense of togetherness to people while they have had to remain apart.

The money has reached more than 13,000 community groups this year, funding activities ranging from radio shows for patients in hospital to aid their recovery, to online music sessions for children and young people, helping tackle lockdown loneliness.

Whether small grants to local projects or long-term investments into systemic change, National Lottery funding has made it possible for groups to find innovative ways of keeping their communities connected and to reach those who need the most help.

Doncaster Community Arts in the North East of England was awarded an emergency grant of £27,000, so it could continue to support adults with mental health problems during the pandemic. Staff have been able to telephone people regularly for a friendly chat, as well as create art activity books, which have been hand delivered by the group’s Participation Co-ordinator, Jamie, to over 50 people every month – often involving a socially distanced catch up on the doorstep. The group also designed monthly visual art activities that people could do at home and provided all of the materials needed to complete them.

Lucy Robertshaw, Assistant Director at Doncaster Community Arts, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have received this funding. Thanks to National Lottery players, those who have been feeling increasingly anxious and isolated as a result of the pandemic have been able to reconnect and find a new purpose. The funding has provided regular human contact and creative challenges for people to focus on. As a result, they feel a sense of achievement and motivation, and more positive overall.”

Thanks to £10,000 of National Lottery funding, Rookwood Sound in Cardiff, Wales has been brightening up the days of patients and staff at Rookwood and Llandough Hospitals by expanding its radio programmes. The group has been providing over 50 hours of entertainment each week, including competitions and sport coverage. With hospital visits from loved ones restricted during the crisis, these radio shows have been vital in aiding patients’ recovery by boosting their mental health and mood during a difficult time.

Autonomie in Belfast, Northern Ireland was awarded almost £200,000 earlier this year to run its ‘Family Voice Hub’, which will continue over the next three years. This new drop-in support service is offering a helping hand to families with children and young people who have a disability. Parents and siblings will be able to connect with others who are experiencing similar situations, increasing their knowledge to make informed decisions and enhancing their coping skills. An outreach service, including home visits and telephone support, is also being provided for those unable to travel and leave their homes.

Thanks to more than £9,000, Bury Asian Women’s Centre in the North West of England, has been able to offer members of the local BAME community a taste of home with a food delivery service, which provides culturally appropriate meals. The group set up Bury’s first halal ‘Fusion Foodbank’ earlier this year to provide comfort and help reduce feelings of loneliness, as well as created a befriending service to keep people connected and less isolated whilst social distancing.

Ama-zing Harmonies in Edinburgh, Scotland has been bringing children and young people together through singing and music during the pandemic, thanks to almost £10,000 of National Lottery funding. Online music sessions have been taking place via Zoom to spread happiness, improve health and wellbeing, boost confidence and create friendships in the community, reducing isolation and loneliness.

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