CalMac fund boosts west coast communities

CalMac provides ferry services to communities up and down the west coast of Scotland.

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Ferry operator CalMac has awarded funding to projects tackling social issues arising from Covid-19 in west coast communities.

Groups and charities working to help people experiencing mental health issues, social isolation, loneliness or poverty have successfully applied to the CalMac Community Fund for awards between £500 and £2,000.

Caraidean Uibhist was one of the successful applicants. It was formed to tackle loneliness and social isolation and has service users and volunteers across Uist and will use the fund to hold virtual tea parties.

Jo Sinclair from Caraidean Uibhist said: ‘This funding benefits those within the community of Uist who are living with a diagnosed or presumed diagnosis of dementia, frailty, loneliness and are isolated.

‘The virtual tea parties bring folk together – It is accepted that social interaction has huge health benefits and increases an individual’s wellbeing, the cognitive stimulation for service users taking part in the tea parties results in the interaction being a very positive part of their day.’

Also successful with its grant application was the Leanne Fund in Stornoway, which supports those affected by Cystic Fibrosis across the Western Isles.

The charity will use the funding for counselling and mindfulness coaching to those struggling during lockdown.

Other groups receiving grants include: the Western Isles Community Care Forum for activities such as first aid training; Counselling Care Skye and Lochalsh for play therapy boxes for school pupils; Tong Recreation Association; and the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative.

Last year the fund welcomed applications from non-profit organisations across the CalMac network to tackle mental health, social isolation, loneliness and or poverty. Groups could apply for an award between £500 and £2,000.

Half of the latest round of awards made will address social isolation, a third of awards will address mental health and the remaining awards will address social isolation, poverty, or a social issue relative to the respective community.

Recent research has forecasted that for every pound spent by CalMac, communities across the network benefit from a social return of £5.14.

Previously, the CalMac Community Fund supported 76 different projects that benefited the lives of children and young people living in west coast communities.

Gordon McKillop, CalMac corporate social responsibility manager, said: ‘The CalMac Community Fund is much more than corporate giving. The fund was created to make a difference for our communities and customers, and we are beginning to see its impact and value.

‘The last year has been turbulent for so many and the third sector has responded magnificently across our network.

‘There are still many challenges to come as we progress through the Covid-19 pandemic and I hope the awards we have made alleviate some of the social issues that arise consequently.’