Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust has given grants of £5,000 each to the community councils in its immediate area, to be used as ‘hardship funds’ to help residents suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Point, Sandwick and Stornoway Community Councils received the money which is to be spent at their discretion and was directed to the community councils in recognition of “their vital role as grassroots organisations”, in touch with their communities and able to co-ordinate aid efforts.

It is the second grant to be announced from Point and Sandwick Trust’s pandemic community fund, following a £40,000 donation to NHS Western Isles earlier in April – the biggest one-off donation made in the history of the organisation, which runs the 100 per cent community-owned Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway.

The NHS money is to be mainly used to support frontline NHS staff and covid-19 patients, and will also hopefully benefit cancer patients. Decisions are still to be made by the community councils about how best to manage the hardship funds but some applications for help have already been received and been responded to.

Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “Point and Sandwick Trust were very pleased to make substantial grants to the community councils, recognising their vital role as grassroots organisations who know their communities well and are well placed to co-ordinate efforts to help people cope with the difficult circumstances we are experiencing.

“The special grants we have provided are to be used by the community councils at their discretion. The only caveats Point and Sandwick Trust have stipulated is that the fund has to remain strictly in the control of the councils – they are not to be handed over to a third person, party or organisation, or used to fill funding gaps created by austerity cuts.

“PST will be working closely with local community councils in the months ahead, and we hope to make further announcements on community support in the next few weeks.”

Responding to the grants, Alex John Murray, newly appointed as chair of Point Community Council, warmly welcomed the fund “to meet with the needs that might arise” and stressed the community council would be having discussions, with the guidance of Point and Sandwick Trust, about how to distribute the money.

Joan Muir, chair of Stornoway Community Council, said: “Sincere thanks from Stornoway Community Council to Point and Sandwick Trust for the generous grants provided not only to NHS Western Isles but also to our community council. The financial gift will help us to provide much-needed support direct to those who need it during these unprecedented times.”

Sandy Morrison, deputy chair of Sandwick Community Council, said: “We were very happy to hear that Point and Sandwick Trust offered a £5,000 grant towards our local community use, in light of the current covid-19 crisis. 

“We have not met as a committee to fully discuss a direction for these funds. But having the funding in place would allow the committee to move quickly in any required direction.

“These funds could be used towards some social events to help rebuild our community spirit after the restrictions are eased. But also if the crisis worsens in the coming weeks/months we have a substantial cash pot to direct at any crisis within the community.

“Once again, Point and Sandwick Trust are showing how a well run community organisation, by the community, for the community benefits us all.”

Announcing the creation of the pandemic community fund last month, Calum Macdonald, the former MP for the Western Isles who is also the development manager for Point and Sandwick Trust, said the Point and Sandwick Trust board had decided to devote “all the income that isn’t already committed to key local organisations like Bethesda to support the community effort we are going to need to get through the pandemic.”

He added: “Whatever happens, we will have to pull together to help each other and also to help the fantastic health and care workers we have in these islands to tackle this virus.”