Financial support for Fife communities on the frontline

Monday 3 April 2023

A commitment by the University of St Andrews to support not only its students and staff through the cost-of-living and energy crisis, but also the wider Fife community, is set to continue with the launch this week (Monday 3 April) of a second round of funding providing financial assistance to charities and organisations on the frontline.

Launched shortly before the Covid pandemic, the University Community Fund is now in its third year of providing between £250 and £3000 of grants to local organisations across the Kingdom.

Since its launch in April 2020, the fund has supported a range of organisations providing almost £186,000 of vital assistance during and immediately after the worst of the pandemic.

The fund has also been boosted by £120,000 in donations from St Andrews alumni and supporters, which has further helped the University to provide financial assistance to many local groups.

Last year it was agreed that support should shift to those most affected by the cost-of-living and energy crisis by assisting life-line projects helping the most vulnerable or isolated in society, as well as those most affected by poverty and deprivation.

This has resulted in an increase in applications from areas of Fife that the University is keen to support as part of its strategic commitment to social responsibility and sustainability.

Projects from Glenrothes that provide a stimulating environment, support and signposting to essential services are just two of the organisations from across Fife to benefit from the last cost-of-living focused funding round.

Brighter Futures was awarded £1200 for its ‘Hope, Health and Happiness’ project designed to enhance the quality of life for people in need.

Health & Wellbeing Manager Rose Duncan explained: “We offer a range of services in the community, including peripatetic health events, alternative therapies and social activities in community-use buildings like village halls. We also run a ‘Winter Warmth’ day each Wednesday where people suffering from the cost-of-living crisis can come together for hot snacks and activities, and form new friendships.

“Financial support from the University Community Fund has helped us to cover transport, volunteer expenses, publicity, various materials and food resilience. In addition to grants and in-kind support we also do our own fundraising to ensure our project is sustainable.”

Room with round tables and blue chairs
Brighter Futures Hope, Health and Happiness Hub

The Friendship Cabin, based at Woodside Community Hall in Glenrothes, was awarded £1750 for its ‘Keeping People Warm’ initiative. The cabin provides a safe haven for the community, offering homemade soup and other items. Funding for the project has helped to cover rental costs, food and volunteer expenses.

The University Community Fund has also supported Kirkcaldy Rugby Club’s Women and Girls Widening Growth project with a £2700 grant, helping to ensure that one of the longest-established women’s club sides in Scotland retains and encourages sport and fitness in increasingly challenging times.

Club spokesperson Daisy McDonald said: “The Girls’ section is an important part of the club and is managed and coached by the Women’s section. A number of players in the Women’s team have Scotland honours and coaching positions, and one member is currently an SRU Council member, and we want to go on and develop this by encouraging more girls to join.

“Demographic analysis carried out across the club made some key findings. Very noticeably there is a massive drop off after primary two where numbers fall dramatically. From P3 to P7 there are only ten girls taking part compared to 92 boys. Aside from the benefits of rugby that the girls of Kirkcaldy and Fife are missing out on, this issue will also impact future youth girls’ and women’s rugby teams. A concerted effort is required to introduce rugby to primary school-aged children through engagement with specific groups, ensuring that female role models are visible throughout.

“Our project looks to close the gap in growth and development between the Men’s and Women’s teams by running events and recruitment campaigns alongside trial sessions to encourage more women and girls in the local community to try rugby. Any sport and exercise will have long-term benefits to individuals and the community – rugby is no exception. Along with making friends for life, playing improves physical and mental health. It’s an opportunity for women and girls to engage socially with a supportive and fun group which encourages teamwork, problem-solving and strategic thinking.”

Several other projects across Fife have received support including the Dino Club in Newburgh which is providing science outreach and theatre activities for local children, Crossroads Fife to set up a North East Fife Befriending Project, the creation of a multi-purpose room at Auchtermuchty Community Centre, and a ramp and surfacing for the Changing Places cabin at Craigtoun Park. Other youth projects to be supported include the 8th Fife (St Andrews) Scout Group which, along with the 12th Fife (East Neuk) Scouts group, will be taking 35 scouts and 15 leaders to Kanderstag in Switzerland to celebrate the centenary of scouting, the LINK Befriending (East Fife Mental Health Adolescent Befriending Project), and the ‘Eat and Heat’ project at St Andrews’ Cosmos Centre.

Commenting on the welcome support from donors the University’s Head of Campaign and Donor Relations and panel member, Heather Edie, said: “We created the University Community Fund to enable us to listen to local needs and provide financial support where it is needed most. This resonated with our alumni, parents and friends and it is thanks to their generous donations that we have been able to support some incredibly worthwhile projects.

“We are grateful to all of our donors who understand just how important the St Andrews community is to the University.”

More details on the fund and how to apply are on the Community Fund web pages.

In addition to a yearly commitment of £30,000 from the University, the Community Fund is generously supported by donations.

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