16 organisations benefit from £140K funding

Oak Tree Housing Association has been awarded £140,000 from the Scottish Government's Supporting Communities Fund, which will benefit 16 grassroots and community controlled organisations that have been busy coordinating vital responses to the COVID-19 crisis across Inverclyde.

As the anchor organisation in the bid and conduit for funding, Oak Tree joined forces with local third sector interface, CVS Inverclyde, to identify organisations seeking financial support to meet additional running costs and maintain key services. This includes hot meals and lifeline grocery deliveries, crisis energy support and wellbeing checks, temporary staff appointments and volunteer outlays.

It is anticipated that more than 1,000 individuals and families currently experiencing negative impacts due to the pandemic, can continue to be supported on a weekly basis thanks to the funding.

For Oak Tree itself, funding will support increased demands on its services, which have remained active during lockdown. This includes the appointment of a temporary Crisis Intervention Officer to provide enhanced support for tenants at crisis point due to issues arising from COVID-19, such as mental health, significant financial hardship through changes to income and employment, as well as family situations, including bereavement.

CVS Inverclyde, which has been at the frontline of service delivery throughout the pandemic, will benefit from funding to bolster several key projects. This includes the appointment of a temporary Volunteer Coordinator to work with its team who have been busy accrediting, training and managing the hundreds of people who have pledged their support through its Volunteer Inverclyde service. Funding will also help maintain its prescription collection service and Inverclyde Life website, its evolving community asset register, now repurposed and listing details of vital service provision during the crisis.

Local organisations also benefiting from a share in the £140,000 are:
· Belville Community Garden for its self-isolation boxes
· Branchton Community Centre to continue its support for lunch deliveries
· Broomhill Community Gardens and Hub for community support
· Compassionate Inverclyde for back home boxes and essential hospital items
· Inverclyde Community Fund to boost its special COVID-19 Fund and benefit at least 20 local community groups
· Inverkip Hub for community support
· Mind Mosaic Adult Services for its therapeutic support of key workers
· Parklea Branching Out for community support
· Port Glasgow Salvation Army to support community based volunteering
· Starter Packs Inverclyde range of household items for vulnerable and shielding individuals
· The Recovery Café to support its work
· The Wise Group/IHEAT boost for its crisis energy fund
· Unity Enterprise food for families in need
· Your Voice for wellbeing checks staffing/sessional costs

"This is a most welcome award from the Supporting Communities Fund for families and individual across Inverclyde," said a Board spokesperson for Oak Tree Housing Association.

"As well as our own award to bolster our support for tenants in need, we have been delighted to act as the conduit for funding that will enhance so many vital key services that have been created, and maintained, by community organisations and grassroots groups throughout the pandemic.

"Working in partnership with CVS Inverclyde, we have ensured that there is a formal network in place to coordinate the delivery of services, alongside our public sector partners. As the majority of projects are established, the funding means they can continue to provide vital support during the current lockdown period for people unable to access services, as well as for our most vulnerable in society who will need to continue isolating."

Charlene Elliott, Chief Executive Officer CVS Inverclyde, said: "This Supporting Communities Fund is great reward for our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which demonstrates the strength of our voluntary sector across Inverclyde.

"Together, we have ensured a cohesive, coordinated response to supporting our local communities through the delivery of key services, especially for individuals and families most in need."

Oak Tree Housing Association is now distributing funding to each of the successful organisations.

The Supporting Communities Fund is part of the Scottish Government's £350 million COVID-19 support for local communities announced in March. Funding is channeled through community anchor organisations, such as housing associations, working in partnership with voluntary organisations, grassroots groups, public services to coordinate local responses to the pandemic.

These grants are supporting local communities across areas of Inverclyde where Oak Tree Housing Association operates, along with its strategic housing partners, Cloch Housing Association and Larkfield Housing Association.

Comment from several beneficiaries:

Eleanor Robertson, Chair of Inverclyde Community Fund

"Our Fund delivers small grants, of up to £500, quickly to local groups across Inverclyde delivering work that will 'make a difference'. We are delighted to receive funding from Oak Tree Housing's successful bid to the Scottish Government's Supporting Communities Fund. This will enable ICF to support more than 20 organisations responding to the Coronavirus crisis and helping our Inverclyde community in a variety of ways.

"A short, simple online application form can be downloaded from our website - - although we also accept paper applications, where groups don't have access to online resources. Decisions are made quickly by our Trustees and, in this lockdown world, we are working with the likes of photos and digital signatures in an effort to further speed up the process. If you are from a local constituted group and are 'making a difference' in this new COVID-19 world, please apply to us for a grant."

Jamie Conway, The Recovery Café

"For people embarking on their recovery journey from addiction/mental health connection is a vital component. By connecting with peers, we reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression, which have been noted as three major factors within individuals experiencing ongoing substance use and poor mental health.

"Due to COVID-19, the Recovery Café has not been able to conduct its business as normal and our participants do not have strong social circles around them so connection is proving difficult. We believe that by providing access to online groups, we can help people to connect with others, learn new skills to combat their ailments and develop existing ones to cope with life as we know it. This will help our members to keep moving forward on their journey and reduce the risk of participants slipping with their recovery. This project could save the lives of our members."

Willie Wilson, Branchton Community Centre

"When we first started delivering meals to vulnerable people in the community we aimed at reaching 200 people. However, demand for our service has now increased to the stage that we are now being asked to deliver up to 400 meals per day. The grant will allow us to provide this additional supply until at least the end of August if required.

"In addition to our meals, we also supply essential items like groceries and toiletries. The grant again will allow us to be able to continue this work.

"Our clients are currently some of the most vulnerable members of the community who are not able to receive support from 'official' channels. Our activities have been very well received and we have many case studies of the need for our work and the difference it has made to people's lives.

"Branchton Community Centre would like to thank Oak Tree Housing Association for its support in helping us provide this service."

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