Douglas West Wind Farm Community Fund celebrates two years of grant-giving through the CDG Community Fund
Over £172,000 has been awarded from the Douglas West Wind Farm Community Fund since launch in 2021, enabling the Coalburn, Douglas & Glespin (CDG) Community Fund to increase support to community groups and charities in the local area.
The communities of Coalburn, Douglas and Glespin have been boosted by additional funding brought into the area from the Douglas West Wind Farm Community Fund. The Douglas West Fund is provided by Greencoat UK Wind, the owner of the Douglas West Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire.
Foundation Scotland had already been managing the Ventient Galawhistle Wind Farm Community Fund since 2017, providing funding to support community projects and activities in the same communities. The addition of the Douglas West Fund in 2021 resulted in the launch of a brand new Coalburn, Douglas & Glespin (CDG) Community Fund, as an umbrella for both Funds. This made things easier for community groups and local charities - a single application reached into the combined funds available, and a single Panel of local residents made all award decisions.
Overall since launch in 2021, the CDG Fund as a whole has awarded grants totalling over £276,000, over £172,000 of which came from Douglas West funding.
For example, the Douglas Primary School Parent Council received a grant of £11,412 to create an outdoor learning area, including a polytunnel, flower beds and growing area, with 50% provided from each of Douglas West and Ventient Galawhistle funding. Douglas Primary & Early Learning Centre (ELC) has a real commitment to using outdoor spaces to provide a range of outdoor learning opportunities for all pupils, knowing the additional health and wellbeing benefits that this brings. This project sought to create an area where all children could engage in Outdoor Learning opportunities, and where fruit and vegetables could be grown within the grounds, educating pupils about the process of growing produce and developing valuable life skills. It was also anticipated that the development of the outdoor learning area would provide the opportunity to re-establish and create new community links post-Covid.
The project included the full installation of a new polytunnel, flowerbeds and groundwork. The newly developed area within the school grounds has seen a significant increase in outdoor learning opportunities for all pupils within the school and ELC. All children have had the chance to grow fruit and veg, supported by members of the local Gardening Club. The school recently entered a range of categories within the local Flower Show and won several prizes.They have also been able to gift fresh produce to the community through links with the nearby Blackwood Sheltered Housing Complex and via an area within the local shops of the village. Links with local businesses have also been developed, with members of the local deli coming into the school to teach the children how to make soup with some of the vegetables that have been grown.
There are plans to deepen links with the wider local community through partnerships to grow, harvest and distribute crops, and to extend the outdoor area at the rear of the school to create a wildflower/sensory garden to help children learn about the importance of biodiversity and its impact on growing crops. The areas will continue to be sustained by regular maintenance from all pupils during outdoor learning sessions and the annual check and repair of resources (if required) by the Parent Council.
Grant funding has made a real and immediate difference in Douglas Primary School, and has catalysed new ideas and ambitions amongst pupils, teachers and parents alike.
The addition of Douglas West funding has also enabled the CDG Fund to award recurring annual core grants to two groups running vital community facilities in Douglas and Coalburn respectively. As part of the agreement between developers and the communities when the Douglas West Wind Farm was established, Coalburn Miners Welfare Charitable Society (CMWCS) and Douglas St Bride's Community Group each receive £15,000 per year to run community centres within each community.
Last year, CMWCS used the grant predominantly towards annual electricity costs which has more than doubled to nearly £24,000 a year. A range of local groups and services use the Coalburn Miners Welfare facility on a regular basis, and keeping the centre warm and fit for purpose was vital. Several new activities were launched from the centre too, such as ‘Warm Monday’ and a ‘Warm Wednesday’ to help tackle social isolation and alleviate the cost of living effects experienced by the most vulnerable residents. With warm food helping boost physical wellbeing amongst residents, the chance to get together with others was often the only time some residents were able to get out and meet up with other people. Lunch clubs have also been provided within the centre twice a month. Such activities increase electricity usage but are vital to help tackle mental health and well-being, poverty and isolation which has increased after Covid. Many residents within Coalburn are elderly, single parents and low-income families, and the services provided through the centre are much needed.
Thanks to community benefit funding emerging from both the Douglas West and Galawhistle wind farms, the CDG Fund is able to make a real difference to life in Coalburn, Douglas and Glespin, and the CDG Fund Panel is already forming additional plans to help the monies reach further into community life over the next few years. The combined CDG Fund is a great example of bringing different sources of community benefit funding together to make things easier for hard-working volunteers and charity staff in a local area.