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Forres Area Community Trust awarded £74,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to cover costs of employing staff and £149,907 from the Community Lottery Fund towards programmes

By Garry McCartney

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FACT employees Janice Cooper, Shirley Barr, Caroline Purves, Debbie Herron and Lindsey Standring with a cheque from the National Lottery Community Trust. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
FACT employees Janice Cooper, Shirley Barr, Caroline Purves, Debbie Herron and Lindsey Standring with a cheque from the National Lottery Community Trust. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

A LOCAL development trust has secured nearly a quarter-of- a-million pounds to support its work over the next few years.

Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) will use a grant of £74,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) up until March 31, 2024 to cover the costs of employing staff, as well as core costs, as well as three years funding of £149,907 from the Community Lottery Fund towards plans to develop its volunteering, digital inclusion, befriending and resilience programmes.

FACT chairwoman, Joanna Taylor, is thrilled with the support.

She said: “This funding will help FACT take forward important projects that will help our community.

“Awareness of the adverse impact of social isolation and the importance of digital skills has never been higher – we are very pleased to have been awarded these grants to enable us to run projects in these and other areas.”

FACT is redeveloping Forres Town Hall, supporting the development of the town’s heritage, the resilience of social enterprises and the area’s third sector, as well as increasing opportunities for local employment.

Joanna said: “The hall is now in use seven days-a-week and is an essential part of our work plan. It forms a base for our activities and is a venue for other organisations and groups to offer activities and events whose contribution towards the costs of running the building is essential.”

FACT will use the lottery funding for existing schemes based at the town hall: a befriending project reduces social isolation by offering events and activities; digital project, Forres Online, offers free face-to-face digital support; a volunteer project encourages people to support others and local organisations, while emphasising the positive impacts of volunteering – elements are linked to developing employability in partnership with Moray Pathways; FACT also runs a community food larder, offering emergency food for a minimum of three days in association with Moray Food Plus, and a weekly pop-up pantry offering foodstuffs that would otherwise go to waste at less than standard prices.

Joanna said: “The money will be used to employ development officers working to deliver these projects which focus on people experiencing social isolation and/or mental health challenges, the over fifties and people coming home from hospital.”

“Hospital Homecoming” is a new scheme in partnership with tsiMoray utilising volunteers who provide short-term support for people leaving hospital who have little support otherwise. It is part of a trial project across Grampian, with support from the NHS and other organisations. Volunteers offer neighbourly support such as a weekly phone call or an invite to lunch.

Joanna said: “FACT’s Cameron Project works to reduce social isolation. Since the pandemic, we’ve had many referrals. We provide befriending face-to-face and over the phone, activities sessions and outreach work.”

FACT’s project managers deliver specific projects and maintain the town hall. A small administration team provides support for the activities. The team is recruiting to bring the number of employees up to 10 in total.

Joanna added: “FACT works in partnership with organisations such as Moray Reboot, Moray Waste Busters, Forres Heritage Trust and Forres in Bloom to support the development and resilience of our community.

“We also support organisations with advice and signposting to funds and offer support in submitting applications.”

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