Volunteering Hebrides receives an award of £330,000 today (Thursday 27 February) to continue and expand their Befriending programme as part of the £3.5 million of National Lottery funding being shared across Scotland.

Projects helping to reconnect isolated or lonely people in communities throughout Scotland are benefitting from the lottery funding and, with an increase in referrals, Volunteering Hebrides can now reach out to more people across Lewis and Harris. 

The service will benefit more people like 43-year-old Robert Wemyss from Stornoway who has had a Befriender for the last two years. He said: “As an autistic male adult, Befriending Lewis has been a godsend for me. Before I became involved with the organisation, I was very socially isolated and rarely went out to busy places.

"Getting a Befriender has changed all that and improved my quality of life immeasurably. We regularly go out to the cinema and restaurants which I love, and I also now have a companion whom I can confide in when I am feeling down or anxious.

“This award will help lots of other people who, like me, who crave social connection and companionship and give them the chance to make wonderful new friends.”

Welcoming the news, Tina Macleod, Service Manager said: “This money will help us tackle the devastating effects that loneliness and social isolation can have on the lives of people in our remote island communities. 

“Rural living brings its own challenges and there are a large number of people here who feel so very alone. Often described as a lifeline, our service offers them regular contact with their own carefully matched Volunteer Befriender as well as the chance to meet others at our group events. We greatly appreciate the vision that The National Lottery Community Fund shares with us and we look forward to working together to make meaningful and lasting impact in our community.” 

Also in the Islands, Advocacy Western Isles receives £100,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund. This group will recruit a Learning Disabilities Advocacy Worker (LDAW) with additional administrative and managerial support, to support people with learning disabilities in Lewis and Harris. The LDAW will support The Speak Out Group (SOG), a group of 18 adults with learning disabilities based in Lewis.

The money from the National Lottery Community Fund goes to 29 organisations for projects that will improve people’s health and wellbeing and help communities to thrive.

Announcing today’s funding totalling, £3,577,529 The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Director, Neil Ritch, said: “All of these projects are fantastic illustrations of National Lottery money reaching into communities and changing lives.

“We can all experience feelings of isolation or loneliness no matter our background, so it’s fitting that National Lottery funding is there to benefit everyone. Giving a few hours of your time to engage with someone can make an immeasurable difference to them and we are proud to support these important befriending projects.”

Last year The National Lottery Community Fund gave out over £36m of National Lottery funding to community projects across Scotland. Over 1291 projects benefitted from this, enabling people and communities to bring their ideas to life. To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk