Aspiring Communities Fund hands out £2m to tackle inequality and poverty

Community groups in the Highlands and Islands are being given more than £2 million of European funding for projects to tackle poverty and inequality.

The Scottish Government has awarded the money to the 22 community organisations with the aim of improving people’s lives and services.

The Aspiring Communities Fund grants will support projects across arts and heritage, local history and environment, creative writing, and music and dance, as well as transport schemes and mentoring for young people.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell will visit Ecologia Youth Trust’s Growing2gether in the Community project in Inverness on Friday to meet participants and speak about the funding.

Ahead of the visit, Ms Campbell said: “Local communities understand what works in their own areas, and this funding will enable them to help create a more equal Scotland.

“It will support organisations across the Highlands and Islands to deliver tangible, innovative approaches to improve lives, based on local priorities, and will address poverty and inequality in their area.

“Each of the projects backed by the Aspiring Communities Fund is empowering and enabling local people to tackle the disadvantages they face, leaving a long-lasting positive impact on their communities and their lives.”

Diana Whitmore, director of Ecologia said: “With this generous grant we will be able to transform the well-being, relationship skills and community engagement of over 200 deserving young people and children throughout nine communities in Highland.

“We are grateful to the Scottish Government for the opportunity to support young people to flourish in their communities, to build their social skills and to realise and recognise how much they have to contribute”.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), who work with more than 200 community groups and social enterprises across the region, also welcomed the financial boost.

HIE’s director of strengthening communities Douglas Cowan said: “The fund offers a significant opportunity for community organisations across the Highlands and Islands to develop and design a range of locally relevant services to address local circumstances and needs.

“It is designed to empower communities and will help to strengthen community resilience, sustainability and quality of life.

“It’s great to see projects in the Highlands and Islands receiving support through this fund which will help them deliver new initiatives and services for their communities.”