East Lothian and Midlothian projects have benefited from more than £400k in funding from the Tyne & Esk Community Led Local Development Programme over the past two years. Some of the groups got together recently to celebrate their success and to help shape the future of the grant fund.

Tyne & Esk Rural Communities Development Fund is part of the Community Led Local Development (CLLD) funding stream from the Scottish Government. The funding covers all communities in East Lothian and Midlothian including Dalkeith Country Park, with the exception of the urban centres of Musselburgh and Dalkeith.

The funding aims to support local rural communities and business networks to build knowledge and skills. It aims to encourage innovation and co-operation to deliver local development objectives identified in the Tyne Esk Funding Strategy and Community Led Vision documents.

Just three of the groups who attended the ‘Meet the Local Action Group’ event, held at The Stair Arms Hotel, Pathhead, were Venturing Out CIC (Community Interest Company); Our Community Kitchen; and Midlothian Volunteer Centre, Rural Youth Volunteering

Venturing Out CIC received a grant of £28,496 to buy 23 bikes, a trailer, helmets and a storage container. The company offers ‘adventures for all’ whether you are looking for holiday activities for the kids, a coastal journey on paddleboards, a staff team away day or a private party. A not-for-profit company, adventures booked through Venturing Out mean they can then offer activities to local families whose children have additional support needs and those living with financial hardship.

Claire Mackenzie, Director of Venturing Out CIC said: “Venturing Out CIC was delighted to receive funding which has enabled us to purchase a fleet of mountain bikes and a container. This has enabled us to increase the accessibility of our cycling activities by being able to provide bikes. Through providing bikes, we have removed one of the major barriers to accessing cycling-based activities.”

Our Community Kitchen in Haddington exists to reduce isolation for people of all ages and abilities. The group brings people together around a large table for a fresh, nutritious, home-cooked meal. They serve a two-course meal of a main and a pudding, Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30am to 1.00pm. They also grow food in the community garden at nearby Meadow Park School. The garden is open for anyone to pop in for a visit on Friday afternoons. Our Community Kitchen was granted £14,322 to purchase materials to develop growing their own produce in their garden at Tynebank Resource Centre, Haddington.

Chair Karen Dick, said: “Our Community Kitchen (OCK) is incredibly grateful to have received a Tyne & Esk community grant towards establishing a community garden at Tynebank Resource Centre that is accessible to all.  The purpose is to create a positive difference for those within the local community by providing a therapeutic and learning resource.”

Midlothian Volunteer Centre, Rural Youth Volunteering, were awarded £9,459 to help with the costs of their Transform project, which provides a range of volunteering opportunities for young people aged 15-24 who need some additional support to volunteer. Their young volunteers can have a range of support needs and have often had difficulties in school. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain skills, experience and confidence, empowering and enabling smooth progression to positive destinations. With the encouragement, support and supervision Transform provides, volunteering becomes possible.

Karen Downie, Operations & Development Manager, said: “It is thanks to Tyne and Esk CLLD funding that Volunteer Midlothian’s Transform Project has been able to support 19 young people to volunteer over the last seven months. As a direct result, young people are moving forward in their lives with a more positive outlook: 90% feel more confident; 95% have improved communication skills, and 95% have developed skills & experience that enhance their future employment prospects.

“Young volunteers took part in Transform’s supported and supervised volunteering sessions either within Volunteer Midlothian’s Community Garden, or within one of two sheltered housing complexes where they delivered weekly quizzes, games and social activities for older people.  The activities in sheltered housing have not only brought old and young together but also encouraged those living within the complexes to make better use of their communal lounge and enjoy their neighbours’ company outside of sessions too; helping reduce the feelings of loneliness and social isolation many older people experience.  Bringing the generations together has enhanced mutual respect and community cohesion.  With 24 older people joining in with the fun of the sessions, many described the sessions as the highlight of their week!”

Andrew McDonald, Chair of Tyne & Esk CLLD, said: “The ‘Meet the Local Action Group’ event was a wonderful way to let Local Action Group members and representatives of funded projects celebrate some of the many ways that community led funding has successfully and effectively made meaningful impacts to local, community led initiatives. Although the programme timescales and funds so far have been limited, the local community impact has been considerable and we hope that the workshop discussions from this event will go some way to help pave the way for even greater future grant funding.”

The CLLD Programme is awaiting confirmation from the Scottish Government regarding finance for 2024-2025. Updates will be made on Tyne & Esk CLLD Facebook and X and on the website.

Published: Wednesday, 10th April 2024