Communities will be able to tackle poverty and inequalities and take forward regeneration in their areas on their own terms through a £20 million investment.
Funding for the Empowering Communities Fund will be protected in the Draft Budget for 2016- 2017, reinforcing the Scottish Government’s commitment to giving even more power to communities.
To date, hundreds of projects which are making change happen in disadvantaged communities through training, employment, healthy eating and volunteering opportunities have received a boost through the Fund which was established earlier this year.
Mr Neil said:
“Investing in community-led regeneration is a priority for this Government as we recognise communities are the ones best placed to address inequalities and identify how their areas can be improved.
“From food growing and healthy eating projects, to owning buildings and training and employment schemes, hundreds of communities have already benefitted from positive change through the Empowering Communities Fund.
“This £20 million investment reinforces our commitment to giving communities a stronger voice in the decisions that matter to them. It will also help us work with community groups and give them the tools to deliver long-term solutions that tackle poverty.
“This investment supports the aims of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act which will be implemented over the next year. It will give people more powers to take over land and buildings and is a momentous step in our drive to increase participation in local decision making.”
Mr Neil recently visited Bield Housing and Care’s Oakburn Park Day Centre project in Milngavie, which benefitted from funding through the Empowering Communities Fund this year.
The project received £75,000 to develop the Community Dementia Services project which promotes social inclusion, health and well-being through the provision of IT training programmes, movement and art classes, the creation of a sensory garden and evening dining services for the people they support and their carers.
Kevin Rowe, fundraiser at Bield, said:
“Bield has hugely benefited from the £75,000 received through the Empowering Communities Fund – it has helped us enhance and enrich the lives of people who use our services across Scotland.
“With the funding provided we have been able to expand our innovative ‘Wee Betty’s Bistro’ service at Oakburn Park from once a month, to twice a month. This allows people with any form of memory impairment to celebrate a special occasion with family & friends by enjoying a fine dining experience.
“This is particularly important during the winter months as it ensures the people we care for continue to have the option to engage with others in safe, social situations and since the funding was given in May, 84 people have benefitted from the service.
“We have also been able to encourage tenants to be more involved in outdoor activities by using the funding to create a bespoke sensory garden. This is a highly accessible space which has been specially designed for people living with dementia but can be enjoyed by people at all stages of life irrespective of any mobility or visual impairments.”