Vital funding from the community fund linked to Banks Renewables Kype Muir wind farm has enabled a local community group to continue to deliver mental health support to a community in South Lanarkshire.
The Hope Café which provides mental health support via a pop-up community café in Stonehouse has been awarded £3,000 to help fund an additional 20 online sessions through Lene on Me. While the physical café has been halted due lockdown restrictions, the group has continued to support the community through online group sessions facilitated by a peer support service, “Lene on Me”. The sessions cost £150 each and provide support to attendees to help combat issues such as anxiety, isolation and panic attacks.
All applications to the Kype Muir community fund grants are determined by the Kype Muir Community Panel (KMCP), which has representatives from local community councils and the wind farm operators, Banks Renewables.
Robert Miller, chair of The Hope Café, believes a great number of people in the village will feel the benefit of the additional sessions, having seen attendance increase throughout lockdown.
He said: “We’ve seen a huge rise in people using the peer support service as the pandemic has progressed – we can see people are really struggling with the impact of the past year.
“We’ve had some incredible feedback from participants, who have said how much the sessions are helping them to deal with the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.
“Securing this funding is a much needed and welcome aid – it’s allowing us to continue supporting the mental health of our community remotely during these challenging times.”
The Kype Muir Community Fund provides £138,000 annually to benefit community groups within 10 kilometres of the 26-turbine development. Funding started in April 2019 when the wind farm started to generate clean, green electricity.
George Smith, who chairs the KMCP, said: “The purpose of KMCP is to help the communities surrounding Kype Muir to thrive. Since funding started in 2019, we’ve supported some truly excellent local initiatives and meaningful projects that will benefit our communities for years to come.
“The Hope Café is an excellent project which has had a hugely positive impact on the local people – we’re thrilled to see the funding support the community’s health and wellbeing, especially during such a stressful time.”
Banks Renewables is committed to ensuring the surrounding area benefits most from the wind farm. Its Connect2Renewables partnership with South Lanarkshire Communities is a broad pledge that also saw it commit to use local contractors throughout the construction of the Kype Muir Wind Farm.
The Community Fund accounts for around a quarter of annual funding arising from the wind farm. Around half goes towards as establishing an employability and training fund, distributed by South Lanarkshire Council, with a further quarter also distributed by the council as part of the wider Renewable Energy Fund (REF).
Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager with the Hamilton-based employer, said: “The Hope Café is such a valuable part of the community, and supporting mental wellbeing within our communities has become more important than ever before with the impact of the past year.
“It’s amazing that a benefit of our wind farm is that we can work with the local community fund panel to award vital funding to groups like The Hope Café which positively impacts the lives of so many in the community.”
The Hope Café is a pop-up café which normally operates out of St Ninian’s Church, Stonehouse, every second Thursday of the month.
The café is run by a dedicated team of volunteers and aims to tackle the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health problems by speaking openly about mental ill-health.
In addition to the online support sessions, The Hope Café Facebook pages also features a ‘thoughts of the day’ daily interactive post, helping to keep the community connected during lockdown.
Banks Renewables is committed to ensuring that their projects deliver tangible and lasting social, economic and environmental benefits to the communities in which they operate.