The National Lottery Community Fund has distributed more than £650m to communities across the UK throughout 2020 (January 1 to November 25), thanks to National Lottery player spend.

The figures indicate that despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 this year, vital National Lottery funding has supported communities up and down the country to keep going and helped local good causes to respond at pace.

The money, distributed by the community fund, has been used by thousands of community projects to overcome some of this year’s obstacles, delivering crucial support and bringing a sense of togetherness to people while they have had to remain apart.

More than 13,000 community groups have received support this year, funding activities ranging from radio shows for patients in hospitals to aid their recovery, to online music sessions for children and young people, helping tackle lockdown loneliness.

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

Places that have received funding include Doncaster Community Arts in the North East of England, Rookwood Sound in Cardiff, Wales, Autonomie in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Bury Asian Women’s Centre in the North West of England, and Ama-zing Harmonies in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “I am incredibly proud that we have distributed £650m across the UK in what has been an extremely difficult year, helping to boost community spirit when it has been needed most.

“Our communities are more important than ever, so we’re delighted to see that thousands of groups have stepped up to provide support – we want to thank the many amazing volunteers and community workers for making this happen.”

Earlier this month, the community fund announced it had awarded over £19.5m in grants to help tackle the climate emergency across the UK.