Local groups in Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles have shared a £190,000 pay-out from the latest round of funding from the Co-op Local Community Fund.
Shinty clubs, a hospital support group, a youth pipe band and a community foodbank were among the 24 groups in the region helped by the funds.
The Co-op Local Community Fund was established in 2016, and since then almost £100 million has been raised for local communities, causes and charities, with over £1 million benefitting organisations based in Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles.
The group’s membership programme sees 2p in every pound spent on Co-op branded products and services shared equally between two funds – the Local Community Fund and the Community Partnerships Fund.
Expressing his delight at the award, Ian Ruari Finlayson of the Skye Youth Pipe Band, which received £14,693.32, told the Free Press: “The Co-op community fund is a massive boost to the Skye youth pipe band.
“It will help kit out new players and buy new reeds and equipment that is not cheap. The band needs a boost after the last few years of Covid stopping us practising.
“The band will take a few years to build back up. We have a few young guys coming through so the money will be handy for new uniforms.
He added: “It’s the hard work of the pipe band committee giving up their time in applying for these funding opportunities that make the band run. I must thank them for all the support.”
The Light up Portree Community Events Group received £15,049.60.
Lorna Cormack told the Free Press: “The Light Up Portree Community Events Group would like to thank the Coop and everyone in our community who chose us to support as their local cause this past year.
“We are so very grateful to you all.
“Thank you also to Portree and Braes Community Trust for supporting us in our application and with all that we do. We could not do what we do without your support.
“We are all very lucky to have The Co-op here. So many community groups have benefited greatly year after year, and we are delighted to now count ourselves among them.
“The money raised for our team will be put back into our planned community events in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Betty Grant, who chairs the Community Foodbank Skye and Lochalsh, which received £18,178.93, said: “This is a fantastic amount for us to receive, especially as we’re coming into the busiest time for the foodbank.
“We’d like to thank everyone who chose us and has given us their support throughout the year.”
Keith MacKenzie, chair of the South Skye junior shinty club – which received over £5,000 through the store at Broadford – added: “We are delighted to receive these funds, which will be used to purchase equipment, and to meet other key costs, associated with our busy club, which every week attracts around 50 youngsters from throughout South Skye.
“We are grateful to the Co-op for their commitment to the community, and this fund will make a really positive impact in helping young people access much needed sporting opportunities in the south of the island.”
Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community and shared value at the Co-op, said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen more Co-op members than ever play an active role in supporting their community by selecting a cause.
“Our insight has told us that support for mental wellbeing, access to food and education and employment for young people, are key for helping communities as they get back on their feet.
“We’re delighted to see the incredible amount Co-op members have raised over the past five years, by listening closely to our local communities and providing the long-term investment and support they need, our members and customers have all helped make their communities places where we can all be proud to live and work.”
Since 2016, the Local Community Fund has supported over 25,000 causes across the UK, and members are encouraged to pick a local cause from a selection that will make a real difference in their local area.
Here is the full list of projects who received funding across Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles: Kyleakin Connections £6,760.62; Kinlochshiel Shinty Club, £5,294.33; Kyle of Lochalsh Detachment Army Cadet Force £5,031.08; Skye Circus Skills £4,546.12; South Skye Junior Shinty Club £5,093.09; The Friends of Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital £6,136.48; Skye Youth Pipe Band £14,693.32; The Community Foodbank Skye and Lochalsh £18,178.93; Light Up Portree Community Events Group £15,049.6; Alzheimer Scotland Western Isles £22,262.33; North Lochs Community Association £18,700.08; Befriending Lewis and Harris £20,492.05; Western Isles Community Care Forum £3,104.36; North Uist Amateur Athletics Club £3,259.18; Taigh Sgìre Sholais £3,258.98; Tagsa Uibhist Horticulture Project £4,122.15; The Cuimhne Project £3,956.93; Uist Gymnastics £3,854.46; Ceolas Buttons & Bows £3,272.67; Counselling and Family Mediation – Western Isles £3,952.17; Southend Community Hall £3,918.98; Cobhair Bharraigh SCIO £3,699.36; Barra Lifeboat Station £4,255.76; Garadh a Bhagh a Tuath £3,450.43.
Portree images by Willie Urquhart.