Community organisations in the Highlands and Islands which are delivering, reshaping or reintroducing vital community services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are being encouraged to check their eligibility for a Scottish Government fund.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is administering the Communities Recovery Fund (CRF) in the region. Available grants start from £5,000 up to £25,000 for single incorporated organisations, or up to £75,000 for partnership applications.

Nicola Ewing, from HIE’s communities and place team, said: “This fund is to support community organisations to address local challenges arising from the pandemic. It can either support organisations to provide community support services for the vulnerable, or help them deliver or reintroduce core services which have higher demand, or higher costs, as a result of the pandemic.

“So far we’ve distributed more than £460,000 to 28 projects across the region. These have included funding for activities such as remodelling community-owned hub and café spaces to ensure the safety of customers and staff, re-opening and reintroduction of services, helping cover increased staff costs, additional running costs for facilities, additional cleaning and PPE.”

The fund is accepting applications to support costs from the start of October 2020 for up to 8 months. It is open until February 21, or until the available funding is committed.

The fund is open to organisations registered as SCIOs with OSCR or community companies limited by guarantee registered with Companies House. Community councils may also apply. See the criteria here.

Nicola commented: “For groups which aren’t incorporated, or for those who require less than the minimum £5,000 grant, we’d recommend that organisations apply under a partnership application – applying through an eligible group, perhaps a local community anchor organisation.

Groups could consider contacting their local third sector interface (TSI) who would be able to help identify potential partner organisations.  Links to all TSIs across the Highlands and Islands can be found on the HIE website.”

“We’d like to support as many local organisations as possible to help them deliver vital community services over the coming  months, and to prepare for the year ahead.”