Community spirit shines in London as local communities prepare for the year ahead


As London heads into 2024, new research from The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest community funder in the UK – reveals that local people’s sense of community spirit and desire to support others is in good health.

Across the region, three quarters (75%) say it’s important to them to feel part of their local community and six in ten (60%) say community spirit is strong where they live. Encouragingly, many (65%) say they feel part of their local community, with all the benefits that this entails.

These include feeling safer (53%), having more awareness of what is happening (50%) and a greater sense of belonging (48%) in their local area. Others rate the opportunity it provides to build friendships and connections, with 43% saying that having an opportunity to meet people is a benefit of being part of their community.

A majority (67%) are willing to work with others to improve their local community, but only around half feel they have the opportunity (52%) or ability to play a role (48%).

Despite this, over half (60%) intend to take part in volunteering activities in their local community in 2024, with almost two in ten (18%) planning to volunteer for the first time.

Among those who intend to volunteer this year, food banks (35%), the environment (20%), supporting older people (34%) and working at charity shops (33%) are where they plan to focus their community-minded efforts.

The findings come from The National Lottery Community Fund’s latest Community Research Index, an annual survey of over 8,000 people across the UK that finds out how people feel about their local community, and what their ambitions and priorities are for their community both longer-term and in the year ahead.

When it comes to the wellbeing of their local community, dealing with the impact of the cost of living remains people’s top priority in 2024. Almost three quarters (72%) of adults in the region predict continued rising demand for local food banks, along with greater local need for mental health support (68%), housing charities (68%) and debt advice (67%). This makes it even more important that community spirit and people’s involvement and desire to volunteer remain strong.

Looking to the longer-term future and people’s aspirations for their community, a third of the region’s adults (33%) identify improved access to affordable housing among the top three changes they would like to see for the next generation.

The National Lottery Community Fund has four key missions, which are to support communities to come together, be environmentally sustainable, help children and young people thrive and enable people to live healthier lives. It invests most in places, people and communities experiencing poverty, disadvantage and discrimination.

David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “It’s clear that 2024 will be another year where communities pull together to tackle shared challenges and to support each other. A continued sense of community spirit and belonging, and a desire to be involved (including volunteering) are welcome bright spots that set the tone for the year ahead.

“Local people know what their community needs and have the passion, energy and know-how to make it happen. This year they will have even more grassroots funding support as we have doubled the amount and term of our small grants programme, National Lottery Awards for All. It’s a key part of our drive to use our funding to strengthen society and improve lives across the UK in 2024 and beyond.”

London’s top community priorities for 2024 (% ranked among top 3)
Physical environment
Safety on the streets (62%)
Supporting people with the rising cost of living (27%)
Keeping the area looking nice (41%)
Preventing youth violence (23%)

Community activities that bring people together (37%)
Helping the local economy (22%)
Having access to natural, green spaces (36%)
People caring and looking out for each other (19%)
Young people having places to go and things to do (36%)
Reducing loneliness and isolation (19%)
Source: The National Lottery Community Fund’s Community Research Index

Agreeing with the findings, Sam Sainsbury, Sports Manager at Single Homeless Project, said: “As this data shows, people want to respond to and see change on the pressures the cost of living are placing on their community.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, and through the medium of sport, we’re creating vital employment opportunities to help people out of homelessness, supporting over 1,200 individuals across 13 London boroughs.”
Based in London, the Single Homeless Project is providing life-changing opportunities to the homeless community through sport, thanks to £500,000 of National Lottery funding. The project aims to improve mental and physical health and create employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.
The award-winning team behind it also work within the homelessness and community sectors, developing a greater understanding of the benefits of physical activity for marginalised communities and providing expertise on how best to do this.
National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes across the UK. Thanks to them, last year The National Lottery Community Fund awarded over half a billion pounds (£615.4 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK.

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