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A shower of awards from the CalMac Community Fund will boost groups from the Western Isles with a diverse range of socially valuable projects.

CalMac announced on Friday (17 March) that over 40 charity groups throughout the islands and west coast will be better able to support those in need, tackling poverty and social isolation and improving wellbeing within their communities.

Up to £2,000 per group has been awarded and recipients include the Failte Centre in Stornoway, which is used is a venue by local clubs including a lunch club for older people, an autism support group, a dementia support group, baby and toddler groups.

The fund is also supporting the Shed Project to pilot a work experience and life-skill-building programme for young people on Lewis.

Youth and schools development manager Matthew MacNeil said: “The Shed Youthwork are so thankful and appreciative of the funding support received this year from the CalMac Community Fund.

“The funding will enable us to further develop our engagement programme for young people. 86% of pupils consulted said that their greatest need in preparing to leave secondary education was to be equipped with life skills and improved confidence levels.

“We have co-designed the programme with the pupils during their timetabled guidance periods and have created an innovative model that has seen participants grow and learn.

“We are thankful for the CalMac community fund understanding the vision for the work and delighted to be able to move to phase two of our project, which allows pilot project participants to share their learned behaviours and values within their own peer groups.”

A practical need has been addressed for Stornoway Running and Athletics Club, who have received £2,000 from the fund to support driver training for a club minibus.

An SRAC spokesperson said: “The most environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way to transport a group to events on the mainland is by minibus, but minibuses require skilled drivers.”

In Tong, the Recreation Association (TRA) have received an award for their Cuppa and Ceilidh project, which promotes social activities for older people.

They said: “Later this year we will be launching the new village website sharing some of the work thanks to this donation from CalMac and we are so grateful.

Other successful groups in the Western Isles include Seann Eolaich, Urras Coimhearsnachd Bhràdhagair agus Àrnoil; Cairdean og Allt nan Gall; Stress Monkey Club CIC; Breasclete Junior Youth Club; Lewis and Harris Youth Football Association; Horshader Community Development Trust; Ness Sports and Recreation Association and P2B Community Association.

Gordon McKillop, CalMac's corporate social responsibility manager, said: "We made a conscious effort to understand the challenges our communities are facing and shaped a fund to react to those needs.

"CalMac is engrained in Clyde and Hebridean life and we have a responsibility to ensuring life thrives. Our community fund continues to deliver impactful outcomes and we are excited to see the difference made by these new awards." 

Helen Wray, head of programmes at Foundation Scotland, said: "The importance of supporting small grassroots community groups and charities to meet the needs and rise in demand they are seeing in their local communities is hugely important, particularly as the cost of living is rising and more people are struggling.

“It is always impressive how local communities respond to changing needs and this funding will make a real difference to the lives of people living in Clyde and Hebrides communities."

The picture shows CalMac’s Shona Campbell with Donald McKee of the Fàilte Centre.