By Ben Hart, Storybeat

Struggling Ayrshire residents are receiving much-needed extra access to food thanks to a vital National Lottery-funded project supporting communities bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living pressures.

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.

North Ayrshire Foodbank, which launched in 2012, was award £10,000 of National Lottery funding to provide a space for local people to come together during the coldest months of the year.

In addition, they will provide hot drinks and meals, while the foodbank's welfare rights officer and other agencies will be on hand to provide advice and advocacy to help people maximise their income and reduce household expenditure. Plans to set up a community bakery are also in the pipeline to offer further assistance to the 9,000 who regularly use the foodbank.

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 six in ten people in Scotland (59%) believe that supporting people with the rising cost-of-living is most important for the wellbeing of their local community, with almost half of Scots (49%) intending to volunteer in 2023 with young people (18 to 24) leading the way (60%).

Craig Crosthwaite, coordinator of the North Ayrshire Foodbank, says that the requests for basic food have soared throughout the winter.

“From the basic foodbank perspective, the numbers requesting food are going up and up,” he said.

“Over the period of Covid, we worked with the local authority to help establish a network of larders with a view that to pull down the numbers being referred to us, those with a bit of money could go to the larder project and those who are devastated financially would still be sent to us, with an aim that the 9,000 coming to us would maybe drop to 2,000.

“All that's happened with the cost-of-living pressures is our numbers have stayed up and the larder requests are growing as well.

“We’re also seeing a drop in donations because the very people that used to donate are the ones now finding themselves having to make a request.

“Our doors are open so that we can carry the burden of paying people’s electricity and gas, and they can come in, keep warm and eat at the same time.”

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 and are facing 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 or tailored by National Lottery funders to prioritise cost of living support. The National Lottery Community Fund 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.

Crosthwaite fears that poverty in the area would worsen rapidly were it not for the foodbank.

“Households would be devastated without this support, they just wouldn't cope,” he said.

“Although people are coming to us for food, our network of referral partnerships is such that we're referring them for gas and electricity interventions, we're referring them for clothing, we're referring them for debt, we're referring them for budgeting assistance, it just goes on.

“The National Lottery funding is crucial. It’s very well-organised, insightful, they’ve got a depth of understanding of the impacts of deprivation.

“They are very flexible. They’re always engaging, they listen, give feedback and that's important because with a lot of grant systems, it goes in and you just don't know what's happening.

“I think it's brilliant.”

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 1,197 in Scotland, 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.