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‘We had to catapult ourselves into the unknown’: How one Bristol charity cooked over 17,000 meals for those hit hardest by COVID-19

New figures released yesterday reveal that nearly £7.5 million has gone to community groups across Bristol this year*, thanks to National Lottery players. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, vital National Lottery funding has enabled inspiring local good causes to carry on their amazing work and bring glimmers of hope to their communities.

The money, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, has helped communities 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.

Heart of BS13 is a community organisation in South Bristol that takes an environmental approach to addressing health inequalities, such as mental illness and food insecurity. It does this in-part through the development of social enterprise opportunities in Hartcliffe and Withywood. The organisation was just beginning to consider widening its services to provide free or low-cost meals to people who were struggling with food poverty, when COVID-19 struck.

Kristjan Bigland, Chef and Nutrition Enterprise Lead at Heart of BS13, yesterday said:

“When I started working with Heart of BS13, I was running cooking workshops for small groups of men, to help them build confidence and develop skills. When we went into lockdown it was clear that those could no longer happen in the same way. When Georgina asked if I could lead on an emergency food response for those who were vulnerable and shielding – I said yes!”

Thanks to a £78,500 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, Kristjan and his co-chef, Luke, estimate that they’ve now cooked over 17,000 meals, delivered by volunteers and by another local organisation, FixX Bikes Bicycle Shop. Thanks to the funding, they were able to turn their small space, only fit for small workshops and demonstrations, into a fully functioning commercial kitchen.

Kristjan added:

“We used every square inch of space, every pot and every pan to get as many meals out as possible”

“Every week we received food donations from Morrisons and Fair Share and Luke and I had to go through the ingredients to try and figure out what to make. It was a bit like Ready Steady Cook!”

Georgina Perry, Executive Director of Heart of BS13, yesterday said:

“The National Lottery Community Fund has been so supportive. The funding has accelerated our ability to build and deliver a food response that we can now transition into a sustainable initiative for the local community.

“The Real Meal store, launched just last week, ensures that delicious pre-cooked meals are available to purchase across Bristol, with the understanding that every meal that you pay full price for goes towards a discounted or free meal for low-income families. Without National Lottery players, we wouldn't have been able launch this sustainable approach as quickly. It’s been a game changer for us."

With lots more plans in the pipeline, Heart of BS13 is just one of many community-led charities in Bristol adapting their services to meet the ever-evolving needs of those who have been hit worst by the COVID-19 crisis.

Bristol isn’t alone in benefiting from vital National Lottery funding. It was yesterday announced that over £650 million has been distributed to more than 13,000 community organisations across the UK throughout 2020*.

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.

Rowan Miller, Head of Funding for the South West of England at The National Lottery Community Fund, yesterday said:

“I am incredibly proud that we have distributed over £7.5 million across Bristol in what has been an extremely difficult year, helping communities to take action when it has been needed most. We’re delighted we could fund so many groups, volunteers and community workers to provide vital support across the city.

“Heart of BS13’s work epitomises what we seek to support at The National Lottery Community Fund - they have done an amazing job adapting to difficult circumstances. I am inspired and reassured by the strength we have seen in Bristol’s communities throughout this turbulent year, demonstrating that communities are more important than ever.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for the UK’s good causes, and £41 billion has been distributed to 565,000 good causes across the UK since 1994.

Last year, we awarded over half a billion pounds (£588.2 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK. Over eight in ten (83%) of our grants are for under £10,000 – going to grassroots groups and charities across the UK that are doing great things to support their communities through these challenging times.

To find out more visit

Notes to Editors

* These figures cover the period of 1st January – 25th November 2020.

About us

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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