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£100,000 Of Funding For Sutherland Playparks And Mental Well-being

16th August 2021

At today's Sutherland County Committee, it was agreed to allocate £80,000 of funding towards playparks and £20,000 towards mental well-being initiatives in Sutherland's Ward 4.

Following on from the budget agreed by Highland Council in March 2021, a £100,000 Place Based Investment Fund was allocated to each ward for the 2021/22 financial year. This fund is intended to enable a flexible local response to address the 4 harms of COVID-19 which are identified as:

direct health harms;
health impacts not directly related to COVID-19;
societal impacts;
and economic impacts.
Early discussions with local Members at ward level had identified two key priority areas for spend. It was proposed that the £100,000 Place Based Investment Fund allocated to Ward 4 East Sutherland and Edderton be used to fund playpark improvements and initiatives that support mental wellbeing.

Cllr Richard Gale, chair of the Sutherland County Committee, said, "This provision of funding is excellent news for the community in Sutherland, and will help us as we start to move on from the challenges of the past 18 months."

Communities in East Sutherland and Edderton have identified playparks as key community infrastructure in need of investment. It is noted that this would have a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of children and young people but also the potential for wider benefits for the whole community. It is proposed to allocate £80,000 to support initiatives relating to improving playparks in the wake of COVID-19.

Mental wellbeing has emerged as a major impact of COVID-19. Members were recently briefed at a Ward Business Meeting by colleagues from NHS Highland on the impact of COVID-19 on older people, in particular how isolation during lockdown has affected people’s confidence to go out and socialise or even go shopping.

At the same meeting Members were briefed by members of the Sutherland Community Partnership Mental Wellbeing Group which, building on the experience from Caithness, is planning workshops in September to identify initiatives that support and build mental wellbeing across all age groups, but particularly amongst young people. It is proposed to allocate £20,000 to support initiatives relating to improving mental wellbeing in the wake of COVID-19.

Ward 1 Members are reviewing evidence to support how to allocate the Place Based Investment Fund in North, West and Central Sutherland. A report will be brought to a future meeting of Sutherland County Committee.