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£15,000 funding allocated for ‘New Connections’ project in Lochaber

The New Connections building in Fort William. Picture by Alyson Smith.

The ‘New Connections’ community space in Fort William has received funding from the Highland Council through the Place Based Investment Fund.

Lochaber Hope has been awarded £15,000 for the ‘New Connections’ project that will help create a permanent role for a host to help manage the various small groups that use the space.

Opened in June 2021, the space helps bring together several community groups that help build new connections for residents within Lochaber.

The building which used to be the old Jobcentre in Fort William will also provide a safe space for people who are anxious about socialising following months of lockdowns.

Members of the Lochaber Area Committee announced on November 8 that the funds will help address the impact of Covid-19 on the community.

The funding will also help elevate the project’s profile so that the Lochaber community knows it is there and is a multi-purpose space for anyone who needs it.

Lochaber Hope has deliberately remained vague about the specific purpose of the space as it will take on many roles and be open to all individuals.

An example is the use of the space to teach Polish residents within the area how to pass a standard driving theory test.

Coming out of lockdown and into recovery.

The council agreed back in March 2021 during the financial budget that £100,000 would be made available to each council ward for 2021/2022.

It was set up so that council wards could provide a flexible response to the changing Covid-19 situation that continues to affect communities across the Highlands.

Alyson Smith, manager of Lochaber Hope welcomed the funding. She said: “We are grateful to the council for this funding that goes towards us helping support people who are anxious about coming out of lockdown.

“Due to the success of the project we are now in need of someone permanent to manage New Connections and this funding will help with that.

“The space is all about networking between people, organisations and businesses within the community who are coming together to share ideas and capture some of the good that has come out of Covid and carry that on.”

New Connections is a pilot project for Lochaber Hope that will run for 12 months with the hope that due to overwhelming demand for the space by the public that this will be extended into the future.

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