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Projects in the Western Isles need to buckle down and get their applications into funds aiming to support project across our communities.

Those aimed at transforming towns and neighbourhoods can now apply to a new £10 million multi-year fund.

The Scotland Loves Local Fund, launched by the Scottish Government, aims to encourage people to think local first, and support businesses and enterprises in their community. Community shops, digital marketing schemes, or larger construction projects could all be eligible for support.

The fund will provide match funding of between £5,000 and £25,000 for projects run by groups including town centre partnerships, community and charity trusts, and chambers of commerce.

MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, said: “The financial support available through this fund will help build local wealth by bringing new creative projects and activities to towns and neighbourhoods, supporting local enterprises to improve the areas in which they are based.

“As local businesses and communities throughout the Western Isles begin their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, schemes such as the Scotland Loves Local fund will enable projects to access the support they need in order to create a stronger and more sustainable future for our towns and local areas.

“I would urge local projects to apply for the Scotland Loves Local Fund and encourage people in the Western Isles to continue to support local businesses at every opportunity.”

Applications for the funding are now open and will close at 17:00 on Friday 1 October.

Meanwhile, projects which tackle loneliness, social isolation, poverty and poor mental health could be in line to get awards of up to £2,000 from the latest round of the CalMac Community Fund.

The latest round of funding is due to open next Monday (16 August) and is this year supported by Foundation Scotland.

Last year The Leanne Fund, the Lewis-based charity which supports people affected by Cystic Fibrosis, received an award for its work to provide counselling and mindfulness coaching to those who have been struggling with isolation. 

Barra Youth Club also got funding towards an outdoor activities programme to reduce social isolation among young people.

This year, applications are also being welcomed from non-profit organisations encouraging re-engagement with community activity following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples of what could be supported include youth or elderly outreach projects, befriending services, family support groups, key community clubs and important community events.

The fund would also support counselling services, active or creative projects which help improve mental health, health and lifestyle projects and community halls looking to re-open after lockdown.  

Gordon McKillop, corporate social responsibility manager for CalMac, said: "The CalMac Community Fund was created to make a difference to those most in need across our West Coast communities. It is also a fantastic way for us to connect with our communities.

"The last 18 months has placed a huge strain on people's lives and grass roots community groups have stepped up magnificently to help those affected. We would love to hear from these groups and would encourage those eligible to apply for an award."

Applications for the CalMac Community Fund open on 16 August and more information can be found at calmac.co.uk/community-fund.