Cash boost for Mull and Iona projects

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The Prince’s Countryside Fund awarded £25,000 to Iona Village Hall and £18,000 to Mull and Iona Community Trust in its round of Rural Four funding in January, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Rural Four aims to support communities in the British countryside cope with isolation and its related issues, with a focus on connecting residents and encouraging the development of community hubs.

The Iona Village Hall grant will go towards renovating the only community space available for the 165 residents of the island. As part of the redevelopment, the hall committee is hoping to host a monthly cinema in the hall for residents, helping those who feel isolated owing to an inability to travel to the mainland.

The grant for Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) will build on an existing project to part fund a housing project officer, overseeing the development of four new houses for long-term affordable rent in Ulva Ferry. MICT aims to work with the local community to ensure key decisions at all stages of the project are made by community members, from design through to allocation.

MICT general manager Moray Finch said: ‘We are delighted to receive this grant from the Prince’s Countryside Fund, which will enable our housing project officer to take forward plans to deliver four houses for long-term affordable rent at Ulva Ferry on the rural west coast of the Isle of Mull.’

Community member Josh Liddle added: ‘Four houses might not seem much, but in our small community these much-needed new homes will ensure there are more pupils in our primary school, more working age adults to boost local employment and a stronger community overall.

‘This support from the Prince’s Countryside Fund will ensure we can make our plans a reality.’

Anja Jardine, who chairs the Iona Village Hall committee, said: ‘Village halls are truly the hearts and engines of remote communities like Iona. In an age of choice and aspiration, they stand for community and commonality.

‘It’s also a well-known fact that wedding suppers are never more enjoyable than when consumed on your local badminton court! We are delighted with the support from the Prince’s Countryside Fund as it will allow us to bring the new spaces to life by equipping them to meet the needs of a variety of people.’

Claire Saunders, director of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, said: ‘The fund’s July 2018 research, Recharging Rural, highlighted the challenges faced by many in rural areas. Survey respondents told us that feelings of isolation were heightened by the experience of living on islands, combined with affordable housing being a top concern, and we hope that these two projects will help to bring the community together on Mull and Iona.’

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is open for grant applications until February 21. Grants of up to £25,000 are available to support community shop and pub projects in rural areas, or grants of up to £50,000 are available for projects that improve the prospects of viability for family farm businesses or support building resilience in rural areas.

Find out more at www.princescountrysidefund.