Highlands and Islands Enterprise has carried out final checks on over 50 applications to the Big Lottery for almost £30 million from community groups across Scotland.
Communities from Shetland to Dumfries, and from the Western Isles to Aberdeen, are bidding for amounts from £54,000 to over £1.5 million in the final round of funding from the 'Growing Community Assets' (GCA) fund, which will have distributed £50 million pounds when it comes to the end of its four year programme in March next year.
HIE's Community Land Unit, which for the last 12 years has supported community groups achieve ownership and management of their own land and assets, has a national contract with its partners to co-ordinate, support and distribute the community assets fund for the Big Lottery.
It has been working with many of the current applicants in their efforts to create amenities like community centres or to take control of their futures by buying-out and developing estate land.
“We have been working flat out to process and collate all the applications and they now go to the Big Lottery Committee for assessment. Some of the projects have been years in the planning and we have to check that everything is included to ensure each application gets its best shot at funding,” said Shirley Tennant, GCA project manager at HIE.
The Growing Community Assets fund supports a diverse range of community led initiatives and all are designed to make communities more enterprising and self-reliant. The programme followed on from the Big Lottery's Scottish Land Fund – which between 2001 and 2006 distributed 150 grants worth £15million. Communities like Pulteneytown in Caithness and Sutherland, landowners Stòras Uibhist in the Outer Hebrides and Tiree development in Argyll have all benefited in the past from GCA support. (*see notes for additional projects) “GCA has provided many communities throughout Scotland with a means to get funding for their projects. Empowering people to decide how they should use local assets has many benefits in making communities more financially viable, it allows them to provide services and facilities that otherwise might not be possible and can develop people's skills through employment or volunteering,” said Andrew Anderson, head of community assets at HIE.
Contact: Lesley Gallagher