Connections make communities: our role in local infrastructure funding

Wereham Village Hall

Common space

  • Our funding has contributed to the building or improvement of 10,000 community spaces over the past five years, helping to make places and spaces more sustainable, accessible, comfortable and welcoming. And we’ve supported 1,550 community hubs in England and Wales – that’s an average of four per local authority. In Northern Ireland, our Energy Efficient Venues programme saw 403 community hubs funded to become more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. Boho Cross Community Association, for example, used a £50,000 grant to install a photovoltaic energy system on the roof of a local venue.
  • Of the building and improvement projects we’ve funded over the past five years, 900 were to make shared spaces more accessible – an investment of £86 million. We helped Our Lady and St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Selkirk to add disabled and baby changing toilet facilities, opening the venue up to a wider section of the community.
  • Community spaces bring people together to form and strengthen bonds. We funded Larne Community Care Centre to support older people in the local area who might otherwise be isolated geographically or through ill-health. Within two years, the project had attracted 1,000 people to events such as breakfast clubs and choir practices, and it was well-placed to support its target demographic when Covid-19 struck, making over 500 support interventions such as delivering food parcels and making check-up calls.

Community enterprises boosting local economies

  • We supported 1,282 community businesses, funded the construction of 889 community-owned homes and invested £40 million in community energy through Power to Change between 2015 and 2020. At £149 million, this trust is our largest investment in community enterprise. Norwich Mustard raised £6,000 to keep mustard production in the local area after the Colman’s factory closed in 2018; Power to Change matched this, and it now has 140 member-shareholders and works to employ people who struggle in the job market.
  • Local businesses are often the bedrock of small communities. In Broughton in the Scottish Borders, the local shop closed in 2018, which meant residents had to take a two-hour round trip to go shopping. Through a £95,000 Scottish Land Fund grant, community members were able to open Broughton Village Store in 2019. The shop offers discounts for those facing financial hardship and employs nine residents.
  • In 2020, we supported 302 community enterprises through the Covid-19 Community Led Organisations Recovery Scheme, helping them to keep running and provide essential services during the pandemic. Of these, 69% were led by members of ethnic minority communities and 86% supported those communities, in line with the programme’s aim of sustaining those most at risk during the pandemic. Back on the Map in Sunderland helped local tenants who weren’t able to pay rent during lockdown, and moved its rental and viewing process for community-owned properties online, so people could still find places to live.
Our funding has supported 10,000 projects to build or improve community spaces

Community leadership

  • In the past five years we’ve put 589 assets into community ownership, helping people develop locally led solutions to their challenges and fill gaps in private-sector and council provision of services. We gave £798,202 to Towy Community Church Trust to acquire a disused cheese packing plant in Carmarthenshire. By converting the facility into a community hub, the organisation has created 39 jobs, hired 100 volunteers, and distributed 700 pieces of clothing and furniture.
  • We put 163 communities in England and Wales in control of the future development of their local infrastructure through the Big Local and Invest Local programmes. Affordable community housing is major part of this; North Ormesby Big Local brought six vacant local houses into community ownership, and has worked with partners to renovate 160 other local properties through cleaning, painting and repair work, making the neighbourhood a better place to live.
  • The Scottish Land Fund supports local groups to purchase land and buildings for the community. From 2012 to 2016, the programme funded the acquisition of 83,829 acres of land, and the most recent round invested £38.9 million, with the majority of applications coming from remote rural areas. Staffin Community Trust on Skye was awarded £231,700 so that it could acquire land for build affordable houses, business units and a shop, boosting local amenities in a remote part of Scotland.
We've invested £119 million to support over 1,500 community hubs in England and Wales