Health scheme grants up for grabs

Stefanie Murr, left, and Hannah Dickson volunteer at the Royal Edinburgh. Picture: Scott Louden

Stefanie Murr, left, and Hannah Dickson volunteer at the Royal Edinburgh. Picture: Scott Louden

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AN annual grants programme designed to create “a healthier future for the people of Scotland” has been launched.

The Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation scheme awards cash to proposals set up to improve the health of residents. Last year saw 53 projects from across the Lothians received cash boosts totalling around £4.5 million.

The Volunteer Centre at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital was one project to benefit from the scheme, securing a £90,228 grant this year and a further £90,000 the year before.

The groundbreaking Stroke-in-Reach project at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, which helps stroke victims with a tailored set of exercises aimed at restoring strength and fitness, has also benefitted from funding worth £30,000 over the last two years.

Marion Findlay, health and wellbeing manager at the Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, said the extra funding had been invaluable in expanding patient facilities and training new volunteers. She said: “The main difference the funding has made this past year is that it has allowed us to recruit more volunteers and expand the patient’s library into an activity hub.”

Mark Smith, consultant physiotherapist at Stroke-in-Reach, added: “The funding has allowed us to realise evidence-based practice in the importance of access to exercise after strokes. It’s been extremely beneficial.”

The grants are funded through cash received from donors over previous decades and will be available to successful applicants from April 2015.

Applications that demonstrate partnership working with charities are particularly encouraged. But the grants are not open to projects deemed to be the duty of a state body, such as the Scottish Government, a council or health board.

Shulah Allan, chair of the grants advisory committee, said: “We are delighted to launch the 2015-16 grants programme. “The applications we have received over the last two years, and the positive impact of the projects we have been funding lead us to be confident that we will once again be supporting important and new work that improves health, care, and wellbeing.”

The closing date for funding applications is December 12.

‘We can do things that make patients’ lives better’

The Volunteer Centre at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital has received grants worth around £180,000 over two years from the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

Marion Findlay, health and wellbeing manager at the centre, said the cash boost had allowed them to expand its facilities and train more than 100 new volunteers.

She said: “It’s allowed us to develop in the hospital and improve the quality of patients’ lives, and it’s allowed us to recruit volunteers and do things like run the patient’s library.

“We have patients who come in and do knitting or sit and browse through books, or learn how to use the computers or an iPad.

“These are not crucial things the NHS provides, but the grant allows us to do these things to make patient’s lives better.

“Often patients have no relationship with people other than the folk who look after them.”