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CalMac helps tackle social issues

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

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.

The Leanne Fund, which supports people affected by Cystic Fibrosis in the Western Isles, received an award for its work to provide counselling and mindfulness coaching to those who have been struggling with isolation.

Other projects include Home Start Lorn for counselling for new parents experiencing mental health issues, Counselling Care Skye and Lochalsh for play therapy boxes for school pupils, Curam Thiriodh for a regular lunch club and social activities, sports equipment for young people living on Gigha, and an outdoor space for the Brodick Early Years group on Arran.

Last year the CalMac Community Fund welcomed applications from non-profit organisations from across the CalMac 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 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 2 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." 

Home Start Lorn Scheme Manager, Aileen Binner, said: "Lockdown has had an impact on the mental health of many people and we have been particularly aware of the effect this has had on 'new parents'.

"CBT therapy can make a real difference to people with (mild-moderate) mental health issues and we are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Oban CBT clinic who will not only support some of our families but will provide some useful training for our volunteers."

For more information about the CalMac Community Fund, visit the website

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