National Lottery funding to support the UK-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic has exceeded £1 billion according to new figures released today.
As the one year anniversary of lockdown approaches, the funding package has boosted the arts, heritage, sport and community/charity sector and helped protect the future of thousands of organisations across Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the last year.
The £1.2 billion awarded has gone towards thousands of initiatives and programmes designed to tackle loneliness and isolation, provide support for the elderly and vulnerable young people, and those promoting physical and mental health in the community.
This comes on top of the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which has been supported with an additional £300 million for Britain's globally renowned arts, heritage and cultural industries, £750 million package of support for charities to ensure they can continue their vital work, and more than £500 million to protect elite and grassroots sport.
This is on top of the multi-billion pounds worth of business support that has been made available, including the furlough scheme, business rates relief and business interruption loan scheme that has helped many organisations to survive.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "The National Lottery has contributed enormously to the whole country building back better from the pandemic. This massive £1 billion contribution has made a significant difference to the lives of so many by providing critical financial support for our communities in need."
Ros Kerslake, Chair of The National Lottery Forum said: “Thanks to The National Lottery’s players, we have been able to offer comprehensive packages of support to thousands of projects throughout the UK over the last year.
"This funding has helped alleviate some of the significant and unprecedented challenges faced by the community, arts, heritage and sports sectors as a result of the pandemic. None of this would have been possible without the important work of amazing and dedicated people throughout the UK who keep these projects going.”
One such project to have benefited from the £30 million raised by National Lottery players every week is Scottish Youth Theatre, Scotland’s national youth theatre who provide training to young, creative talent across the country.
The company, who are based in Scotland but operate across Scotland, received a National Lottery grant from Creative Scotland of almost £50,000 and have used the much-needed injection of cash to expand their digital presence.
Many young people needed somewhere to turn to more than ever during lockdown, with Scottish Youth Theatre’s ever-increasing nationwide presence providing a crucial outlet of creative support. The funding has enabled them to run four programmes including their first ever digital festival – called Making Space – and Jacky Hardacre, Chief Executive at Scottish Youth Theatre, thanked National Lottery players for enhancing their reach and handing young people a vital lifeline.
Jacky, 54, said: “National Lottery players’ contribution really makes a difference. The theatre industry has been hit really hard, and we’re working with young people who want to follow a creative career.
“What I hope we’ve continued to do is give them some optimism and a pathway into the industry so they can shape it in future. And how good is that? National Lottery funding, through our Creative Scotland grant, has certainly been a big part of [what we’ve done]. It’s funded a programme of activity for six months of the financial year.
“National Lottery funding has enabled us to develop our company priorities, work digitally and reach further across the whole of Scotland.”
One sports club supported through the National Lottery is the North Wales Crusaders Wheelchair Rugby League & Disability Sports Club. Their National Lottery grant from Sport Wales enabled them to find new wheelchair storage space after their Deeside base was turned into a hospital.
North Wales Crusaders’ revenue streams dried up overnight when lockdown struck but thanks to National Lottery support, their additional storage costs were met and they could afford crucial PPE so they could carry on training and playing.
The club provides a vital sporting outlet for disabled people across North Wales and Stephen Jones, Head Coach and Trustee, believes National Lottery players were crucial to the transition.
Stephen, 54, who lives in Wrexham, said: “We’re not the only club who have suffered through Covid, but because of The National Lottery, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel with funding for us. Without the initial funding we got, we would have seriously struggled to be able to afford to store our equipment.”
In England, another project to have been boosted by money raised by National Lottery players is Leicester-based Community Interest Company HQ Can – who received a recovery grant of £37,577 from The National Lottery Community Fund.
HQ Can work with unemployed and disadvantaged adults looking to gain employment in the creative sector and provides them with industry-related employability skills, experience and confidence. National Lottery funding has enabled them to further enhance the skills of the East Midlands’ creative talent and Yasin El Ashrafi, founder and CEO, says the support has made all the difference.
Yasin, 41, said: “I’d just say thank you to National Lottery players. Without the National Lottery, there would be so many projects like mine that just wouldn’t be able to continue. The National Lottery has been a complete lifeline for us. Having that funding, and the National Lottery being flexible enough to let us adapt the way we were, has been a game-changer. Without the National Lottery, we potentially would have ended up closing down. It has been literally a complete lifeline for me and the young people we support.”
One project in Northern Ireland to also benefit from a significant grant was Newry-based Head Injury Support, a charity support group who work with adults who have acquired brain injuries that prevent them from returning to employment.
Head Injury Support received a grant of £447,984 from The National Lottery Community Fund, enabling them to run the ‘My Day, My Way’ project that will allow them to engage with an increased number of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) survivors over the next four years.
The charity have distributed a range of engagement packs – including bingo books – and run three Zoom sessions every week during lockdown and Paul Murphy, a two-time head injury survivor supported by Head Injury Support, knows it wouldn’t have been possible without National Lottery players.
Paul, 56, said: “I’m always thankful. Thanks very much to National Lottery players for what they do.
“None of this would happen without funding. We are very grateful, and the money from The National Lottery is creating an atmosphere of community. The funding is fantastic and we’re very appreciative of it – and that comes from the heart.”
To find out more about how The National Lottery supports good causes throughout the UK, visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
National Lottery players are encouraged to play online at national-lottery.co.uk or by downloading the National Lottery app and only buy their tickets in retail as part of their essential shop.