Building a picture of what is important to communities across Wales

Rob Roffe, Head of Knowledge and Learning
Rob Roffe, Head of Knowledge and Learning

As Wales emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic into an uncertain future, our latest review of The National Lottery Community Fund’s funding priorities in Wales has never been more relevant. Rob Roffe Head of Knowledge and Learning at The National Lottery Community Fund shares our plans to identify how National Lottery funding can best support Welsh communities to adapt, recover and thrive: 

COVID19 has irrevocably changed our lives in a way we never thought imaginable. As we collectively try to chart a path towards recovery, it has left behind huge challenges for Communities across WalesWith squeezed public finances and an unprecedented third sector funding crisis, the role to be played by National Lottery funding has never been more crucial. 

Of course, we haven’t stood still during the pandemic. We moved quickly to focus our funding offer on addressing the immediacy of the crisis, supporting organisations through tough times and funding projects that delivered community responses to COVID-19More recently, we’ve changed those priorities to include a focus on the future, supporting communities and organisations to become stronger and more resilient in the face of this and future challenges. 

Its against this backdrop that we are conducting the latest review of our funding in Wales, and while COVID-19 is significant in our thinking, it is not the only consideration that will define the review. Our commitment to putting people in the lead is as strong as ever. We recognise that communities understand their needs better than anyone else, so our commitment to funding people-led, strengths-based and connected projects is undiminished. 

We will be looking at both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ when it comes to future funding. What issues require a specific funding focus? How much funding should be targeted and how much should be allocated to demand-led programmes that respond directly to the specific concerns of communities? Do some communities need more help than others? How can our commitment to addressing climate change be best reflected in our approach? These are big questions without easy answers and, while significant, our funding can never address every need that we identify. There will be some hard choices to be made along the way. 

Whatever the priorities we identify, we want our funding to be for everyone. Of course, we do not need the insight of a funding review to know that much inequality across Wales remains unchallenged, harming both individuals and society at large. We want equality, diversity and inclusion to be front and centre in all our funding decisions and our review will seek out opportunities to make sure that this is the case. 

We are already taking steps to ensure that we are inclusive, both as a funder and as an employer and are starting to see encouraging signs that we are supporting more Black, Asian and minority ethnic led community groups. However, we cannot stand still, and we know that there is more we can do to ensure that every community in Wales feels that our funding is for them. We recently appointed a Head of Funding Equity and Inclusion to take this forward across the UK. 

Without a thriving third sector to act as a strong focus for community activity, our funding would be unable to act as a catalyst for positive change. Our review will also consider how we can ensure that community organisations are thriving, diverse and fit for the future. Building on the recent support that we have made available to make organisations more resilient through our People and Places grant programme, we will look at ways in which our funding can help organisations and the communities that they support to develop the skills, capacity and assets that they need to achieve their ambitions. 

Later this year, we will be engaging with a broad range of stakeholders, organisations and the general public to help shape and define how and what we fund with money raised by National Lottery players in the future. The pandemic will inevitably impact on how we engage, but we hope that through a blend of conversations, events, surveys and focus groups, we can gather different perspectives and build a picture of what is important to communities across Wales. 

If you have some early thoughts to share, or would like to find out more about our review, please contact me at robert.roffe@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk.  

If you would like to find out more about applying for National Lottery funding to help your community to adapt, recover and thrive, visit our website or speak to us by emailing wales@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk or by calling 029 2168 0214. 

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