More Covid-19 support for West Lothian communities

A new fund has been created to support the resilience of West Lothian communities with the impact of Covid-19.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 7:26 am

Council Executive approved proposals to change the way the council funds West Lothian voluntary organisations by creating the £400,000 Third Sector Community Support Fund.

This aims to open up the application process to all Third Sector organisations, to help address the key issues facing  communities.

The focus of the new grant scheme is around  key issues  identified as being under pressure because of Covid-19.

West lothian council Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan (labour) - Whitburn and Blackburn

These are income and employment, health and mental wellbeing and homelessness, with particular emphasis on supporting our most vulnerable communities.

But the funding process  has drawn criticism from the SNP opposition which has complained that 50 per cent of Third Sector cash available has already been assigned. It had also called on the council to launch a lottery scheme similar to others around Scotland to help boost the Third Sector. 

Executive councillor for voluntary organisations Kirsteen Sullivan said: “The £400,000 Third Sector Community Support Fund will play a major role in supporting our amazing voluntary sector in West Lothian. This new approach to funding has been developed in partnership with local voluntary organisations, to help us work together to respond to the challenges we face in West Lothian.

“This £400k grant funding is just one element of a more strategic approach to funding third sector organisations which will also include commissioned services as well as training, advice and support from our advisers.

“Working with voluntary organisations,  we’ll work towards our shared goals of supporting our communities and vulnerable individuals in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

Organisations can apply for up to £50,000 of funding under three broad categories: income and employment; physical and mental health and wellbeing; and housing and homelessness issues.

The SNP group was also critical of decisions taken to allocate more than £500,000 to specific groups. The bulk of that funding- £190,000  covers youth services in the county and community transport -£180,000.

Organisations including Voluntary Sector Gateway, the CAB and  West Lothian Social Enterprise Network are also awarded funds.

The £400,000  remaining in the pot will see an increased number of voluntary groups bidding for it, with a limit set on the maximum they can apply for. 

A meeting of the full council the week before had rejected an SNP proposal to introduce a lottery scheme to  fund the Third Sector.

Councillor  Frank Anderson depute group leader said: “These local lotteries run very successfully in other council areas. There is no risk or cost to the council. The lottery in Darvel ,Ayrshire,  generates over £30,000 per year additional funding for local groups from a relatively small population of 2,500 people.”

Anyone who needs support and advice with their application should email [email protected] The deadline for application is 12 noon on Wednesday November 11.