Community groups across the North Highlands are now benefitting from a new support fund set up to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Launched in March, The North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme is already awarding grants of up to £1,000 for small initiatives in the education, conservation, and community service and support sectors in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty.
Priority is being given to those initiatives where Government support packages are unable to help, and those ineligible for emergency grants.
More than 15 community groups in the North Highlands have already been awarded grants totalling more than £14,000 from The North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme, including its most northerly applicant, Farr Primary Parent Council at Farr High School in Bettyhill for crisis food provision.
Other successful applicants helping those most urgently in need include Dornoch Food Bank, Gairloch Food Bank and Tain Youth Cafe for a school meals programme; as well as Caithness Community Connections, Shieldaig Coronavirus Community Support, Applecross Covid-19 Community & Support, Dunnet and Canisbay Community Covid-19 Response, Cromarty Care Project, Castletown Community Covid-19, John O’Groats Development Trust, North Coast Connection and Highland Seedlings’ Fearn Free Food Garden.
The North Highland Initiative (NHI) was established in 2005 as a direct result of His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay’s involvement in bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry to address the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland. The NHI also works to build and develop a regional identity for the area.
The charity’s three key areas of activity are food and farming, tourism, and community support and leadership.
Given the current crisis, and for the foreseeable future, applicants for the NHI Community Support Programme must be able to demonstrate that their project has been established as a direct result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Applicants must show that their project meets a ‘genuine and urgent community need’, and that the project carries no financial benefits for private individuals within the community.
The NHI Community Support Programme is unable to support applications from statutory organisations, individuals or projects outside the North Highland region.
While the current fund does not have a deadline as such, funding is limited, and guidelines will be reviewed at the end of April.
David Whiteford, Chair of the North Highland Initiative, said: “We’ve had an amazing response to our Community Support Programme so far, but we want to encourage even more community groups from across the North Highlands to apply.
“This vital new initiative is a means of financial help, aimed at communities that are experiencing particular hardship as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Our aim is to target areas, projects, and local initiatives for which Government Support packages may not be able to assist, and those ineligible for emergency funding.
“With a limit of £1,000 of funding per project available, this allows us to provide multiple smaller grants aimed at reaching out to as many communities as possible.
“Application forms are now available on our website and funds are ready to be distributed. Our Community Support Programme structure will be periodically reviewed in line with the progress of the current pandemic and our application process may reflect this.”