The National Lottery is distributing up to £300 million to support the most vulnerable across the UK during the coronavirus crisis.
The initiative will see charities and voluntary organisations receive funding over the coming months in what the National Lottery described as “the UK’s biggest non-governmental contribution to the efforts in local communities to combat Covid-19”.
The news comes as the National Lottery is expected to end the financial year with record ticket sales.
The funding will be donated to organisations such as food banks and charities that help combat loneliness and isolation and support the elderly, as well as projects that support health in the community.
Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “The fund has always supported projects that help people and communities across the UK thrive.
“And now, the fund is switching its focus for the foreseeable future on supporting charities seeking to mitigate the unprecedented pressure communities are coming under as the country rallies to overcome the virus.”
Nigel Railton, chief executive of National Lottery operator Camelot, said: “Week in, week out, National Lottery players make a huge difference to the lives of people and communities across the UK.
“Just by buying a ticket, players in every nation have helped raise over £40 billion for good cause projects, from supporting our athletes to repairing Scout huts.
“Now, more than ever, the National Lottery can play a critical role in supporting our communities as we all face this challenge together.”
Camelot said it will achieve record sales at the end of the current financial year, with the official announcement to be made in May.
Speaking on the impact of Covid-19 on lottery ticket sales, a Camelot spokesman said: “Like many businesses, we have begun to see some impact on sales – particularly due to retail disruption – but it’s too early to say what effect Covid-19 will have on National Lottery sales over the medium to longer term.
“However, we’re completely focused on continuing to run the National Lottery as safely and responsibly as we can because we know the importance of the work it does in raising over £30 million every week for good causes around the UK.
“As well as our employees, we’re continuing to support our players and our retailers, and are encouraging people to play online or only buy their lottery tickets in stores as part of their essential shop.”