South Lanarkshire Council supports community groups with over £90m of funding
South Lanarkshire Council allocated more than £90 million to support communities with the cost of living in 2022/23.
This included a variety of new initiatives set up to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to help the most vulnerable households deal with the financial crisis.
At a recent meeting of the authority’s Executive Committee, councillors were given a summary of the projects and their outcomes, which involved a wide range of council services.
- Support totalling £1.2m to more than 5000 of the most vulnerable households in the form of £250 one-off payments
- A saving of more than £225,000 to households through targeted energy advice
- A £120,000 boost to public wifi to increase access for those in areas of multiple deprivation
- South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture also instigated a ‘Warm Welcome’ initiative ensuring access to halls and meeting places for a variety of groups and clubs who might otherwise have struggled to get together.
The move was backed by a £3m funding package from the council with the specific aim of providing warm space for those struggling, and accessible locations for communities to come together through the winter months, preventing isolation and loneliness.
Two local groups who were featured in the report to committee, have told how the initiative allowed their long-established and vital networks not only to stay together but to thrive.
Hand Made Arts and Crafts offers a social hub and meeting place each Wednesday in Uddingston Community Centre. Margaret Paterson who has run the group for more than six years was delighted that the winter months were made easier for the mainly older women who enjoy the group.
She added: “Our group is very informal, and we all work away on projects that we enjoy, bringing our own materials and equipment, but to be able to do it together is what makes the difference.
“Knowing that we could keep our meetings going, even bringing in new members, during the winter was fantastic for us, especially coming out of years of lockdowns which meant so many had no choice but to be at home.”
Another to sing the praises of the project was a Hamilton-based church group. Ferniegair Christian Spiritualist Church was established in 1978 by renowned clairvoyant and spiritualist Elizabeth (Bessie) McLean and creates an open and welcoming environment in Ferniegair Hall, Hamilton.
Current chairman, Harry Boyd said the support of the Warm Welcome initiative made a genuine difference. He said: “Following lockdown and then some improvement works to the hall we had been away from our home at Ferniegair for almost three years. We had just started to settle back in September last year when we heard there might be a need to close again because of tight budgets.
“It was a real worry for us, to potentially lose access again to the place where our group finds peace and calm and togetherness. So, for the Warm Welcome initiative to kick in when it did really took away that worry, and gave us the certainty and security to plan, to spread the word again and to keep our doors open to all.”
A full summary of the Cost of Living support packages as detailed to councillors, which also included support for foodbanks, extended school meal payments, energy support payments and the widening of existing benefits is available on the council website.