Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, on a memorable visit to Skye
It was a stunning journey from Edinburgh to Portree en route to visit Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers project. A walk round the town led to the harbour-side office of Shirlie, an organisation with Headquarters in Inverness, which earlier this year was awarded over £438,000 to assist adults with additional support needs across the Highlands, move closer to employment. A visit to Shirlie wasn’t on the agenda but it was interesting to see evidence of this work on Skye.
Through various conversations, I got a very good indication of the important issues facing communities across Skye and Lochalsh, and the opportunities for change. Big Lottery Fund has perhaps been best known in the Highlands for supporting development of community assets through acquisition of land and/or buildings with our Growing Community Assets programme. However, many other organisations across the area have also been successful in securing small grants funding, like Awards for All, as well as much larger awards to support work with vulnerable people and communities.
I did hear we need to encourage even more applications from smaller community groups which have great ideas but are less sure about how to complete applications for us. That’s one of the things we need to follow up. Completing Big Lottery Fund’s application form was a topic covered when, David, Big Lottery Fund committee member, Frances from our Communications team, and I visited the Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers project on Friday morning.
This organisation was recently awarded over £358,000 from the Investing in Communities 21st Century Life programme. The five year grant means they can continue to support young carers across Skye, and help more in Lochalsh. It was a visit which was inspiring, moving and humbling all at the same time.
We met Marjory and Becca, who manage the project; Pat who chairs the Management Committee, some fantastic volunteers and four of the 120 young people who use the project. Attending the meeting was a personal challenge for each young carer but they volunteered to welcome us because they value the service so much and because they had played a key role in designing the services and the application to Big Lottery Fund Scotland.
We were impressed to hear about the range of activities from training and learning opportunities (such as the mock shop inside the carers’ centre), one to one and peer support, awareness raising, and respite and social activities provided for the group who range from five to 18. We were given a great welcome, with tea, coffee and home-baking, and came away with a tremendous sense of the warmth and family spirit which makes this project such a success.
After the visit, I took a look at their website and found this poem by a young carer. For me, it eloquently sums up the needs which our 21st Century Life programme was designed to address.I am like the moon, I am not seen unless you look for me, I affect so many things, But they often go unnoticed, I am awake at night and outshone in the day