Christmas comes early for 50 community groups

Fifty community groups from across Inverclyde have received funding from the second year of the council’s Warm Hand of Friendship project.

Groups could apply for up to £3k of the £100,000 fund to help them put on regular groups, events and activities in their community.

All the grants will be paid out this week meaning they’ll receive it in time for Christmas.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council and convener of the policy and resources committee which agreed the funding in November, said: “I’m delighted we have been able to help so many community groups for another year.

“This will be a welcome boost for the groups, and the wider communities they serve, going into the new year.

“The feedback from the first Warm Hand of Friendship scheme last winter showed what a difference it made to community groups and residents who benefitted from a range of events, activities and advice.

“I would like to thank council officers for their quick turnaround of the scheme and getting payments into group’s bank accounts before Christmas.”

Groups which have received grants plan to offer a range of activities and support including hot soup and sandwiches, travel costs, warm clothing and social groups for children and older adults.

Lyle Gateway in Greenock received £2,250. Derek Mitchell, community development leader for the centre, said: “We are very grateful to receive this fund as it will allow us to open our doors for an additional day each week over the winter months.

“We have chosen to open our doors on a Friday in recognition of the lack of services over the weekend, and will provide free, freshly made hot soup and warm meals.

“Our doors are open to anyone that wishes to come along and benefit from warm food, good company, and advice.

“We recognise in today’s financial climate that there are people in our community having to make choices over the winter period between food and heating or electricity.

“We see what we do as going beyond simply providing food. We wish to ensure that those coming through our doors are invited to be a part of our larger community.

“Where appropriate we will link people with other third sector and statutory organisations to provide the best holistic support to the individuals we will be working with.

A total of £100,000 was agreed to be allocated to the fund at the policy and resources committee in November.

The 50 awards approved this side of Christmas come to a total of £89,566.

From January, applications will be reviewed on a weekly, rolling basis until the remainder of the fund has been allocated, on a first come, first served basis.

The inaugural Warm Hand of Friendship scheme provided 51 grants to 44 community groups and supported just over 10,000 people across nearly 1,300 sessions between October 2022 and March 2023.

Funding for the project has come from the council’s anti-poverty fund.

More information about the Warm Hand of Friendship scheme, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, is available on the Inverclyde Council website link in the right hand column.