Lanark churches back community funding boost

Two church of Scotland ministers have welcomed a funding boost which will help community projects in Lanarkshire to combat isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rev Bryan Kerr and Rev Louise Mackay
Rev Bryan Kerr and Rev Louise Mackay.

Rev Bryan Kerr and Rev Louise Mackay, both local ministers, were delighted that Greyfriars Parish Church in Lanark, on behalf of Lanarkhelps, has received the grant which will support six different initiatives.

Of the total amount awarded, £25,538 is from the Scottish Wellbeing Fund and an additional £5,000 is from the South Lanarkshire Renewable Energy Fund.

Rev Bryan Kerr, who is the minister of Greyfriars Parish Church, said "This money will make an incredible difference to the lives of people living in Lanark and the surrounding villages.

"During the lockdown we have had to think of new ways to support people in our community

."Working as churches across the town we have been able to demonstrate the love of God in very practical ways and allow people to see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to serve and love our community and neighbours."

Rev Louise MacKay said: "The people of Lanark have been united in helping one another.

"It has been great to work alongside our ecumenical partners in the town and many wonderful community organisations.

"Hopefully as we come out of this current situation these links can strengthen and continue into the future."

The six projects which will be funded are:

  • Dementia Support: Working with DAGS (Dementia Alzheimer Group Support Lanark) and Memory Lane Café in Christ Church, the project will provide a library of professionally produced activities (Games, reminiscence cards, puzzles) that will be loaned to families for a week, delivered by a Lanarkhelps volunteer.
  • Healthy Minds: The project will provide a library of jigsaws that will be loaned to people in the community, particularly the elderly and others who do not have access to online methods of purchasing to alleviate boredom. This project will also purchase mindfulness colouring books and pencils to gift to individuals seeking stimulation and are at risk of developing, or have, poor mental health.
  • Growing Hope: Lanarkhelps will provide an activity for families to work as part of a community to grow hope and colour in a dark situation with around 2,500 plants being potted by individuals in their homes. Plant pots, bags of compost and seeds will be placed outside key public venues and shops allowing people to collect as they pass on their daily exercise.
  • Family Activity & Support: A monthly activity pack (4 in 12-weeks) will be collated and distributed to 100 children who otherwise would have little opportunity to engage in creative work due to their family situation. These packs will be made up and distributed by members of staff and volunteers from Healthy Valleys. The staff members will also be engaging in regular telephone support calls to the affected families to ensure that children are safe, well looked after and, where necessary, provide support and signposting to other organisations.
  • Community Check In: The project will employ staff to make phone calls to identified residents within the community who are on their own, isolated, vulnerable or suffering from poor mental health to ensure that they are well, looking after themselves, and provide a listening ear.
  • Suicide Prevention: Working with Hear for You, Lanarkhelps will provide extra capacity for counsellors to work with individuals on the phone and in person, providing counselling and care to those considering taking their own life. As people emerge from lockdown when mortgage holidays, furlough and employment issues surface the project seeks to provide good quality support available. This funding will allow 10 at risk individuals to each receive 10 hours of counselling.

Churches who are eligible for a grant from the Scottish Wellbeing Fund must apply by noon on Friday 22 May.

These new Lanarkhelps projects will be established in addition to the community support telephone line already in operation providing support for anyone in Lanark and the surrounding villages, with a team of volunteers providing a listening ear as well as free, practical support with tasks such as prescription collections and delivery, shopping and energy meter top-ups. Anyone who needs the free services of the support line should call 01555 437051 Monday – Friday 9am to 4:45pm, or Saturday 9am – 12noon.

To register for the Healthy Minds or Dementia Support Projects individuals can call the Lanarkhelps support line on 01555 437051 or go to the Lanarkhelps website.