Lottery celebrates spending £96m on befriending projects

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Community Fund grants have benefited more than 920 initiatives in Scotland. 

13th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

The National Lottery Community Fund is marking World Kindness Day by spotlighting the £96 million it has invested into befriending projects in Scotland.

More more than 920 befriending projects in Scotland have benefited from since the fund was founded 25 years ago, providing companionship for people of all ages.

These include the Big Hearts Befriending Project in Edinburgh, which offers children aged 7 to 14 who are in kinship care the opportunity to engage in social activities every week.

The project received a three-year National Lottery Community Fund award of £149,423 to support its Kinship care programme.

Cathy Owens is a kinship carer to her 12-year-old grandson Nathan, who was matched with a befriender through the project. She said: “Befriending has been wonderful for Nathan. He gets to go out once a week with his befriender and enjoy a range of different activities which he chooses, while I get some precious time to myself.

“I have seen him become more confident and self-assured and it’s been wonderful to see his wee personality evolving, thanks to the magic of befriending.”

Cowal Elderly Befrienders in Argyll is another organisation that has benefitted from funding. Founded 23 years ago to help alleviate loneliness and isolation in a rural area of Argyll, it has received two awards from the National Lottery Community Fund since 2012 which have contributed to it providing more than 20,000 hours of befriending services to around 200 older people every week. 

Pat McLean, 92 from Dunoon, joined the group after her husband died eight years ago. She said: “Before I joined I was very lonely, so it’s been so nice getting to know more people. 

“I am part of the Singing Bees choir which meets every Wednesday.  I was very nervous at first but I have always enjoyed singing. Joining Cowal Elderly Befrienders was one of the best things I have ever done, and I am so glad I made the decision to join.”

Maureen McGinn, Scotland chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, said National Lottery players should be proud of the difference that projects like these can make in communities around the country.

She added: “We know that being part of a community and building friendships makes people happier and healthier. The National Lottery really changes lives, and the 25th birthday is a perfect time to celebrate the £96m that has been invested into befriending projects in Scotland over the last 25 years.”