CalMac gives out further grants to local organisations

Projects tackling social issues arising from COVID-19 in west coast communities have been awarded funding from the CalMac Community Fund.

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 9:26 am
Tea parties online was a fab way to bring people together

Groups and charities working to help people experiencing mental health issues, social isolation, loneliness and or poverty have successfully applied to the Community Fund for awards between £500 and £2,000.

Caraidean Uibhist was one of the successful applicants. It was formed to tackle loneliness and social isolation and has service users and volunteers across Uist and will use the fund to hold virtual tea parties.

Also successful with their grant application was the Leanne Fund in Stornoway, which supports those affected by Cystic Fibrosis across the Western Isle.

CalMac Ferries have handed out more grant aid.

They will use the funding for counselling and mindfulness coaching to those struggling during lockdown. Other groups include: the Western Isles Community Care Forum for activities such as first aid training; Counselling Care Skye and Lochalsh for play therapy boxes for school pupils; Tong Recreation Association; and the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative.

Last year the CalMac Community Fund welcomed applications from non-profit organisations from across the CalMac ferry service network to tackle mental health, social isolation, loneliness and or poverty. Groups could apply for an award between £500 and £2,000.

Half of the latest round of awards made will address social isolation, a third of awards will address mental health and the remaining awards will address social isolation, poverty, or a specific social issue relative to the respective community.

Recent research has forecasted that for every pound spent by CalMac, communities across the network benefit from a social return of £5.14. Previously, the CalMac Community Fund supported 76 different projects that benefited the lives of children and young people living in west coast communities. It is expected to deliver £676,391 of value over three years.

Subsequently, CalMac became the first Scottish company to be awarded a Level Two Social Value Quality Mark for initiatives such as the CalMac Community Fund.

Gordon McKillop, CalMac’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, said: “The CalMac Community Fund is much more than corporate giving. The Community Fund was created to make a difference for our communities and customers, and we are beginning to see its impact and value.

“The last year has been turbulent for so many and the third sector has responded magnificently across our network.

"There are still many challenges to come as we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic and I hope the awards we have made alleviate some of the social issues that arise consequently.”

Jo Sinclair from Caraidean Uibhist said: "This funding benefits those within the community of Uist who are living with a diagnosed or presumed diagnosis of dementia, frailty, loneliness and are isolated.

"The virtual tea parties bring folk together - It is accepted that social interaction has huge health benefits and increases an individual’s wellbeing, the cognitive stimulation for service users taking part in the tea parties results in the interaction being a very positive part of their day."

Chrisetta Mitchell, Development Manager, of The Leanne Fund, added: "The pandemic continues to make it incredibly difficult for charities to raise necessary funds so we were delighted to be awarded a grant from the CalMac Community Fund towards our counselling service.

"Working through the pandemic has highlighted the impact the current situation has on the mental health of individuals and families affected by Cystic Fibrosis, and this award will allow us to provide specialist support to enable them to cope better with the many issues that arise as a result of self-isolation."

The CalMac Community Fund was created to make a difference. Its sole purpose is to benefit those most in need across west coast communities which are served by the ferry network.

This year the CalMac Community Fund took a decision to try and support non-profit organisations registered to the islands and ports they serve which engage and deliver services for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people across those communities.

A spokesman for the fund said: “We will seek to support services that tackle social isolation, mental health, loneliness and or poverty. We will consider applications that address other social issues relative to your community if the application can demonstrate the need.

“Organisations were able apply for an award between £500 and £2,000. Awards will split across six regional areas, we hope to make up to ten awards in each area. The areas are:

Lewis, Harris and Ullapool

Uist and Barra

Skye, Raasay, the Small Isles and Mallaig

Oban and the Inner Hebrides

Southern Hebrides

Firth of Clyde

The fund reopens again in October this year for the latest round of applications. All applications are screened by the Communications and Community Engagement directorate to ensure they meet the minimum eligibility before being screened for a second time by a panel of young people in partnership with Young Scot.

For more info about the Fund, visit: