£650 million of National Lottery, Government and third-party funding has been invested in community infrastructure over the past five years, with a new report released into the impact of this investment.
Published by the National Lottery Community Fund, the Connections Make Communities report shows what this money, awarded by the Fund, has helped achieve during the time period of 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2021.
The funding has supported 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.
Funding has also helped to ensure places are fully inclusive. Through £100,000 of National Lottery funding for example, Community First has brought together more than 350 village hall committees across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, to help these spaces remain at the heart of communities. In a bid to reduce isolation and loneliness, the group has also 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.
1,500 village halls and community centres have received 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. 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.
Local residents in Norwich for example 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, 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.”