Funding boost for early years outdoor learning

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Projects tackling social issues arising from Covid-19 in west coast communities have been awarded funding from the CalMac Community Fund.

Groups and charities working to help people experiencing mental health issues, social isolation, loneliness and or poverty have successfully applied to the Community Fund for awards between £500 and £2,000.

Brodick Early Years, with funding of £1,500 from the CalMac Community Fund, are adopting a strong focus on outdoor learning to promote good mental wellbeing among the young children engaging with their service.

The group’s horticultural activities will include engagement and involvement with the children’s families, and they hope to improve mood, reduce stress, encourage relaxation, develop confidence and self-esteem and improve and promote physical health.

Last year the CalMac Community Fund welcomed applications from non-profit organisations from across the CalMac network to tackle mental health, social isolation, loneliness and or poverty. Groups could apply for an award between £500 and £2,000. Half of the latest round of awards made will address social isolation, a third of awards will address mental health and the remaining awards will address social isolation, poverty, or a social issue relative to the respective community.

Recent research has forecasted that for every pound spent by CalMac, communities across the network benefit from a social return of £5.14. Previously, the CalMac Community Fund supported 76 different projects that benefited the lives of children and young people living in west coast communities. It is expected to deliver £676,391 of value over three years.

Gordon McKillop, CalMac’s corporate social responsibility manager, said: ‘The CalMac Community Fund is much more than corporate giving. The fund was created to make a difference for our communities and customers, and we are beginning to see its impact and value.

‘The last year has been turbulent for so many and the third sector has responded magnificently across our network. There are still many challenges to come as we progress through the Covid-19 pandemic and I hope the awards we have made alleviate some of the social issues that arise consequently.’

Aileen Logan from Brodick Early Years added: ‘The community funding will give Brodick Early Years the opportunity to develop our outdoor space. Through our outdoor environment, this will promote the wellbeing of children, exploring nature and learn about sustainability. We hope the community and families will be involved as we celebrate our growing days.’