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 across Wales in the last 10 years.

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.

And has joined forces with Welsh homeless charities Nordoff Robbins and Street Football Wales to shine a light on issues surrounding homelessness.

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.

Hillingdon Times: Strictly star Neil Jones is praising National Lottery projects after experiencing homelessness as a teenagerStrictly star Neil Jones is praising National Lottery projects after experiencing homelessness as a teenager

“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.”

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.

In 2020, as part of their Covid-19 response strategy, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, the UK’s largest music therapy charity, funded an eight-week pilot project at a hostel for people experiencing homelessness in Swansea, in partnership with The Wallich, Wales’ leading homelessness and rough sleeping charity.   

Following the success, and with the support of National Lottery funding, a Nordoff Robbins music therapist delivered ongoing weekly group and individual music therapy sessions during the pandemic to meet the increased need for support for people experiencing homelessness.

While Street Football Wales is a social inclusion charity that delivers football for excluded and socially isolated people throughout Wales, offering opportunities for them by providing an open, inclusive, and safe environment to play football, make friends, and build self-confidence.

Jo Humphreys, Nordoff Robbins music therapist at Ty Tom Jones, said: “Music therapy can be life enhancing for so many people, including those experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges. 

“Nordoff Robbins as a charity is able to supply subsidised services, but the grant from The National Lottery has been enormously helpful in allowing more people to benefit from music therapy.”

Street Football Wales Project Manager Scott Jeynes, 24, said: “We're not your usual 'sat across the table counselling'. That's not what we do. All our work is done through football and building an individual's confidence.

“There's a stat that says you're potentially only two pay checks away from being homeless, but I think everyone always thinks it's nothing to do with them or always to do with drugs and alcohol – we’re grateful to The National Lottery.”

Hillingdon Times: Music therapist Jo Humphreys has been able to help people experiencing homelessness overcome their trauma, thanks to funding from the National LotteryMusic therapist Jo Humphreys has been able to help people experiencing homelessness overcome their trauma, thanks to funding from the National Lottery

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.

Hillingdon Times: Nordoff Robbins Music therapy has helped many people experiencing homelessnessNordoff Robbins Music therapy has helped many people experiencing homelessness

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.

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.”

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​