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CalMac is urging non-profit organisations in the islands to make sure they complete applications to their Community Fund in time for the upcoming deadline of 30 September.

The CalMac Community Fund is run each year with Foundation Scotland and is aimed at helping those most in need across the ferry operator's network area.

This year they are specifically looking to support vital community services to restart or continue, especially services and activities which address or reduce social isolation, or which encourage re-engagement with community activity following the pandemic. 

Services and activities which support better mental health and improved well-being will also be prioritised.

Last year, the Western Isles Community Care Forum received an award for their carers’ trainers project, supporting unpaid carers throughout the Western Isles with training and capacity building to reduce social isolation.

Caraidean Uibhist were also given an award to create digital tea parties geared at reducing loneliness among elderly people.

Gordon McKillop, corporate social responsibility manager for CalMac Ferries 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."

Since its launch the CalMac Community Fund has supported 136 groups and last year supported 60 groups delivering projects tackling social isolation, mental health, loneliness and or poverty. 

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

Eligible organisations can apply for an award for this year’s fund of between £500 and £2,000, until 30 September.

Photograph: Peggy Mackay from Western Isles Community Care Forum.