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Dingwall community cafe to open in time for Christmas thanks to The National Lottery

Sheila's Community Cafe in Dingwall received a National Lottery Grant. Image: National Lottery.
Sheila's Community Cafe in Dingwall received a National Lottery Grant. Image: National Lottery.

A Highland town’s wish has come true as a new community cafe where everyone is welcome will open in time for Christmas Day.

Sheila’s Community Cafe in Dingwall is one of 246 community projects across the country today sharing in £8,162,502 of National Lottery funding for activities that will bring people together both at the Festive period and all year round.

Thanks to a National Lottery award of £73,354 to Community Support and Information Ross-shire, Sheila’s Community Cafe will open its doors in time for Christmas Day to welcome those who may be spending the day alone.

Pay what you can afford

The new space will become a safe haven and a place to come for hot food and company for local people who may feel isolated or who may be affected by the impacts of the cost of living crisis.

The National Lottery has funded Sheila’s Cafe in Dingwall. Image: The National Lottery

The cafe will operate on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis with a pay-it-forward scheme also in operation where the town’s residents can buy someone a hot drink, bowl of soup or a plate of stovies.

On Friday evenings, the cafe will open up to young people as a digital cafe meaning that young people from outlying areas can join in and meet up with their friends.

Mary Foley, 70, from Dingwall has been heavily involved in creating the space as well as donating items such as kitchen equipment and plates and cups.

She said: “A lot of hard work has been done to make the building a warm and clean space after it being uninhabited for a number of years.

“This will help the community in so many ways such as helping to combat social isolation and helping people and families struggling to make ends meet by providing a warm and welcoming space and organising events for all ages.

“I can’t wait to use the cafe when it’s finally open.”

‘Delighted’ to be awarded funding

Shona Street, chief officer, Community Support and Information Ross-shire, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded funding for our Community Cafe and Event space.

“It’s wonderful that we can make our dream a reality and one which will help address the issues of poverty and isolation in a practical and fundamental way.  Our community has been behind us all the way and have bought into the pay-it-forward ethos with full collection tins ready to be used.

Shona Street, chief officer, CSI Ross-Shire, with the bus. Image: HiTrans

“This project has been fuelled by the enthusiasm and time of many local people and shows just what can be achieved when all sectors of a community come together.”

Announcing the funding, Kate Still, Scotland chairwoman, The National Lottery Community Fund said: “It’s fantastic to see this latest round of funding go to charity and community groups who are helping people in communities across Scotland come together.

“This sense of real community spirit is embodied by the people of Dingwall who have already embraced the ethos behind Sheila’s Community Cafe, a place where local people of all ages can meet and make new friends.

“National Lottery players can be proud that they are supporting this vital work, not only during the Festive Season but all year round.”

Who else received funding?

Various groups across the north, north-east and islands received pots of funding for initiatives.

They included:

  • Mintlaw & Central Buchan Initiative was awarded £10,000 for sessional staff salaries so it can continue to deliver the group’s youth project in Mintlaw’s leisure centre.
  • Peterhead Area Community Trust will receive £10,000 to employ a caretaker/youth worker to engage young people in helping to look after the newly developed Victoria Park.
  • Stonehaven Fireballs Association was given £9,100 for the annual Hogmanay Fireballs event in Stonehaven.
  • The Silver Circle will continue day care provision providing activities for older people in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire and the surrounding area, thanks to a £10,000 grant
  • Aros Park Historic Walled Garden in Tobermory was awarded £9,946 to support volunteer-led improvements to the garden.
  • Gairloch Area Development Ltd will receive £10,000 to restore a community greenspace within the centre of Gairloch village. The project will make improvements to footpaths and seating as well as establish a community management plan.
  • Rape and Sexual Abuse Service was granted £133,124 to deliver specialist therapeutic support and group workshops to help survivors of sexual violence in Highland to overcome the emotional and mental harm caused by abuse.
  • Urram Highland will use £91,296 funding to provide a range of community-based support to help combat social isolation, loneliness, and health
    inequalities across the remote-rural area in the far north of Scotland.
  • Moray Food Plus will use £10,000 to support people in extreme crisis in
  • Moray Women’s Aid will use £165,664 to continue its Community Outreach
    and Therapeutic Service in Elgin, Moray. The project will provide
    community-based support through one-to-one sessions, peer support
  • Third Sector Interface Moray have been awarded £30,000 for a Participatory Grant Making (PGM) pilot involving individuals and small groups in shaping the eligibility criteria, application and decision-making processes for the micro-grant fund. Around 50 to 300 people living in Moray are expected to engage in
    different phases of the pilot project which will take place within a 12-
    month period.
  • Tall Ships Race in Lerwick has been awarded £43,311
  • Shetland Rape Crisis has been awarded £89,856 Shetland Islands to develop specialist service pathways and resources for young people of all genders in Shetland who have been affected by sexual harm at any time in their lives.

Help keep families fed and warm this winter

The Big Christmas Food Appeal is working to highlight the work going on in our communities to help others, like Hope Kitchen.

The Press and Journal campaign also aims to debunk some of the myths around food poverty, and make sure readers know where they can go for help.

We’ve teamed up with Cfine, which supports foodbanks across Grampian and the Highlands, to collect donations of food and money.

However, we want to showcase the efforts of the other tireless groups, charities and volunteers helping to keep their communities fed this winter.

If you know a group we should highlight, get in touch.

Get involved with The Big Christmas Food Appeal