Funding Success for Childcare and Community Well Being Projects
Although our office has been closed for the last year, the staff at Mull and Iona Community Trust have been working hard in the background developing projects to address the lack of formal childcare on the islands and also to improve well-being. We have just been rewarded with three funding successes!
In consultation for all the Community Development Plans we have produced, residents of all ages and backgrounds told us in surveys and face to face group meetings how much they appreciate the islands’ natural environment and that it contributes significantly to quality of life.
The need for improving access to outdoor services, more opportunities for social integration, and improving childcare options on the island emerged as key priorities from our consultation work. These needs have been amplified under the Covid 19 lockdown, limiting indoor social interaction and the few childcare services that are available.
MICT has had ambitions to set up new childcare services for a number of years, and we now have the opportunity to run a 12 month Rural Out of School Care Pilot to provide regular and reliable childcare for school aged children with a focus on the outdoors and mobile service options with a view to providing a sustainable service beyond the trial period. The project aims to provide breakfast, after school and holiday clubs in addition to looking into home based care services to address the different demands in a rural community. The pilot will create an Out of School Care Co-ordinators post and two Practitioners/Play Leaders posts and is being funded by the Scottish Government, as part of its wider aims to improve out of school care.
Children’s Minister Maree Todd said, “We know that the last year has been challenging for many children and families, in part due to limited access to childcare. I am pleased we can provide funding to test different approaches to providing childcare – like this project in partnership with the Mull and Iona Community Trust. School age childcare services play a vital role in providing children with opportunities to play and socialise, while also helping parents and carers to access work and training opportunities. This pilot with the Mull and Iona Community Trust will work in partnership with third sector organisations, childcare settings and childminders to explore creative solutions that will address the barriers to childcare that exist in rural and island communities.”
With many indoor playgroups and toddler groups not currently running, MICT has also been able to secure funding from Outdoor and Woodlands Learning Scotland for 10 weekly Outdoor Playschemes for children aged 0-3 and their parents/carers, led by our Mull and Iona Ranger Service. The playschemes will help to alleviate isolation for our youngest island children and their parents, and in particular help toddlers socialise in preparation for pre-school.
Alongside these, a new 2 year Community Well Being Project funded by The National Community Lottery Fund will provide outdoor activities benefitting the whole community. The aim of the project is to improve well-being for islanders and help people recover from the social impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, by providing new opportunities to work together, feel less isolated, improve mental health and nurture new skills and increase confidence.
A new Community Well Being Officer role will be created to oversee the project and develop the activities which will include skills training and team building for high school children, outdoor, therapeutic, nature based social activities for vulnerable groups within our community. This award also allows us to provide environmentally sensitive welfare facilities at our Ardura Community Forest to accommodate these activities.
Moray Finch, General Manager at MICT said, “These awards really will make a difference to our communities as we move slowly out of lockdown, and will I hope build a platform for us to support provision of more and more options for families seeking supervised activities for children and eventually maybe even expanding to a more formal childcare provision.”