By Ben Hart, Storybeat

A mum-of-two from Llanbister says her and her children’s mental wellbeing has been revolutionised thanks to a vital National Lottery-funded project supporting communities bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living pressures.

And new research announced by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, this week shows people across the country are predicting mounting difficulties for local services due to the impact of the current economic climate.

Wilna Evans, who is expecting her third child in June, used to attend as many as six different playgroups a week but now only visits two, admitting she feels at home at Llanbister Town Hall-based project Ti a Fi in Powys.

Ti a Fi has received £8,000 of National Lottery funding to purchase new toys, crafting materials, and equipment for their play group and to create a toy library for families that are rurally isolated or affected by the cost-of-living pressures.

Many of the toys had not been replaced since the playgroup started in 1998, discouraging families from attending due to the condition of the toys.

As a result of the poor take up from families in the surrounding area, Ti a Fi came close to folding in the autumn but is now thriving again thanks to an injection of National Lottery funding.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the money has helped some of the most vulnerable people impacted by cost-of-living pressures in our communities. 

And new figures released this week through The National Lottery Community Fund’s latest **Community Research Index shows that over half of people in Wales (54%) believe that supporting people with the rising cost-of-living is most important for the wellbeing of their local community, with half in Wales (50%) intending to volunteer in 2023 with young people (18 to 24) leading the way (74%).

Evans said: “Ti a Fi is a godsend, to be honest. It sounds a bit silly, but it's a warm environment for us too as my house is freezing - we live in a really old, school farmhouse.

“It's really nice to go there knowing that it’s warm and that it’s safe for the kids. It’s all one hall, so the kids are free to go wild and there’s hot coffee for us.

“It's nice for the kids to have different toys because I would loved to have bought a lot of the toys but I can't afford it, so it's nice that once a week they've got the option to pay with different toys, like scooters and ride ons.

“I realised that my mood was so low all the time and the more you’re stuck at home in the middle of nowhere, the more you just want to stay home.

“I know a lot of mums in the same position, who have said they have been stuck in a rut – most of us are married to farmers, my husband works seven days a week, 12 hour days. I see him after eight o'clock at night if I'm lucky.

“It can be very lonely in the countryside, but with the playgroup back running again it makes a huge difference.”

National Lottery funding distributors - encompassing sports, arts, heritage, and community - collectively awarded over £1 billion pounds to support communities throughout the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, to help them cope and recover.

And now the £30 million raised each week by National Lottery players for good causes is at the forefront in supporting communities who need it the most in the face of cost-of-living pressures.

Organisations throughout the UK facing increased demands, challenges, and hardships as a direct result of the pressures are being supported in various ways, as National Lottery funders throughout the UK have responded with new priorities to help communities with an approach that centres around flexibility and support. 

Many existing funding programmes have been adapted by National Lottery funders to prioritise cost of living support. The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, alone is making an initial £75 million available UK wide to help those most in need – providing community groups with greater certainty at this critical time. All funding will be kept open and available, and ready to adapt, as part of its We’re Here for You commitment.

Whether it’s funding to improve the thermal efficiency of heritage sites, providing energy efficient floodlights for community sports clubs faced with the burden of increased costs, providing thousands of free hot meals and food parcels, warm places for the community to come together during the winter months, or supporting with money management and mental health initiatives  - The National Lottery is making life that little bit easier by providing a wide array of support across sports, arts, community and charity, heritage, education and environment  sectors during these challenging times. 

And Evans believes that if it were not for The National Lottery’s support, Ti a Fi would have ceased to exist.

She said: “We wouldn't be running without it, I don't think.

“We needed a grant this year, we just didn't have the money to be spending money on toys and the whole thing needed updating.

“We had one week where just one person turned up, just before Christmas we had 39 kids at one party.

“We’re running different themed weeks now, it’s fresh and exciting. Throughout Christmas my daughter was constantly saying, ‘can we go to playgroup now mummy?’.

“We did a little post on our Facebook page saying, ‘thanks to The National Lottery we’ve just got this grant,’ and we had a lot of comments on there saying, ‘wow, this looks amazing, we can’t wait.’”

National Lottery players raise more than £30 million a week for arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport, and voluntary projects across the UK; see the difference it’s making near you at

** NB: Research conducted on behalf of The National Lottery Community Fund by Savanta ComRes between 2nd and 28th November 2022, amongst 8,968 UK adults, including 1,285 in Wales, weighted to be representative of UK adults by gender, age, region, social grade and ethnicity. 8,059 UK adults were previously surveyed between 7th and 22nd September 2021 and 7,009 UK adults were interviewed between 27th November and 8th December 2020.