Scotland’s communities secretary visited Inverness yesterday to announce £2 million of funding for group projects in the Highlands.
The funding will benefit 22 community group projects across the north, targeting issues relating to inequality and poverty, whilst supporting inclusion within the local community.
Yesterday, cabinet secretary for communities and local government Aileen Campbell visited pupils at Charleston Academy in Inverness who have been involved in the Growing2gether mentoring project, aimed at nursery children who require additional support.
The project allows pupils to work towards an SVQ qualification, enhancing their achievements throughout their school careers as well as making a difference in the community.
Ms Campbell said: “Local communities understand what works in their own areas, and this funding will enable them to help create a more equal Scotland.
“It’s been tremendous to come here to Charleston Academy to see and hear from the young people who are part of the mentoring programme and it is good to be here to announce the availability of £2million for organisations across the Highlands and Islands to benefit in many different ways.
“Underpinning all of that is the ability to help people to grow and to flourish to support different communities in the way which they need to be supported.
“To hear from the young people themselves what they have benefited from around the mentoring project is absolutely phenomenal. It is a really simple project but the impact is huge.”
Diana Whitmore, director of Ecologia Youth Trust who deliver the Growing2gether project, said: “We work in partnership with the secondary schools and our programme is based on positive psychology, which is a way of approaching young people where you see the best from them, and you get the best back.
“Through the experience of mentoring, young people have lived experience of how much they can make a difference in someone else’s life and how they can engage in a really positive way with their community.”
The funding is set to span across Highland and Island projects relating to arts and heritage, local history and environment, creative writing and music and dance.
Fourth-year pupil Jake Weston, who is a graduate of the Growing2gether project, said: “The boy I worked with initially was very quiet. He wouldn’t speak to teachers and say you were trying to get a group photo; he wouldn’t want to be a part of it. But at the end he was very openly speaking to new staff coming in.
“It was a very rewarding experience to feel as if I had made a difference to someone else’s life.”