Skip to main content

Formerly homeless Strictly star hails impact of half a billion pounds of National Lottery funding awarded to homeless projects in the past decade

15th December 2021

Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones, who struggled with homelessness as a teenager, is highlighting the incredible support National Lottery-funded homeless projects have provided to people all over the UK in the last 10 years.

Strictly star, Neil Jones

The 31-year-old professional dancer is now a regular fixture on screens across the UK, but a few years ago he was in a very different position and, for a brief time, he even found himself sleeping rough on the streets.

With Christmas fast approaching, Neil is helping to highlight the extensive funding and support The National Lottery has provided to homelessness projects over the last decade.

Since 2010, more than half a billion pounds (over £576 million) has been awarded to more than 3,000 projects that involve or support homeless people or help tackle homelessness throughout the UK.

Many people sadly won’t be spending the holidays in comfort and safety this year, and charities have warned that the “double threat” of coronavirus and cold weather is likely to prove fatal for some homeless people this winter.

With the support of National Lottery funding however, many organisations and charities are providing immediate and much needed help for thousands of homeless people throughout the year, including this critical time of year.

National Lottery funding helps to support homeless people in countless vital ways, whether it’s providing them with essentials such as shelter and food, helping them onto the employment ladder, or providing crucial services to improve their mental health and well-being.

A man, Raymond Longville, Case Worker at The St Giles Trust, smiling.
Raymond Longville, Case Worker at The St Giles Trust

One incredible project that has benefitted from National Lottery funding is The St Giles Trust.

Their Peer Advisor Programme was first developed in 2002 at HMP Wandsworth to train serving prisoners to give advice and guidance to fellow inmates. It has since expanded to 30 prisons and youth offending centres across the United Kingdom. National Lottery funding has allowed the model to be rolled out to help those in the community, particularly ex-offenders, addicts and homeless people, through a system of Peer Hubs.

We spoke to Raymond and Jamie-Lee, who have both been able to transform their lives, thanks to the support of the St Giles Trust.

Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones said: “With winter upon us and Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time of year to spare a thought for those who don’t have a home to go to or have somewhere safe, comfortable and warm to sleep over the festive period.

“It’s tough to think about the difficult things they’re going through at this time of year because it’s such a time of joy for most of us, but it’s important to recognise that there are so many people out there who really do need our help.

“Thankfully, there are countless incredible charities and organisations doing some really incredible work supporting homeless people across the UK with National Lottery funding.

“Having experienced homelessness myself, I know just how crucial that kind of support is. I’m incredibly thankful to have made it through that dark period in my life, but this Christmas I hope people will take a moment to think about those who are still experiencing such challenges.”

A woman, Jamie-Lee McMillan, Former Peer Advisor Participant at St Giles, in Southbank, London.
Jamie-Lee McMillan, Former Peer Advisor Participant at St Giles

David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to provide much-needed funding to incredible organisations that are making an important difference to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Whether supporting people experiencing homelessness to improve prospects for employment, supporting with mental health or providing a safe place where people can build their confidence and self-esteem, dedicated groups and their volunteers are working tirelessly with the homeless community, so that they are better able to overcome challenges and hopefully go on to prosper and thrive.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, alone has awarded more than 600 grants worth around £80 million to projects that involve homeless people since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the UK every week, which in turn helps charities and organisations which support homeless people in our communities. To find out more about National Lottery funding go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/funding

Notes to editors

For further information, please contact Harry Gold on harry.gold@lotterygoodcauses.org.uk or call 07583040622.

About The National Lottery

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised more than £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK - the equivalent of more than 225 lottery grants in every UK postcode district.

The National Lottery has awarded more than £576 million to over 3,000 projects that involve or support homeless people or help tackle homelessness throughout the UK over the last decade.

For more information about projects funded by The National Lottery visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk or on Twitter at @LottoGoodCauses.

Stay up to date with the latest news

By clicking Sign up, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.