Lottery cash lifts Argyll mental health project

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Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) is celebrating after receiving a National Lottery award of £100,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The cash will be used to to support its work with adults with mental health issues in Argyll and Bute. Scottish Forestry has also contributed £12,000 to the project.

ACT will use the award to continue its Branching Out project for two years, providing woodland-based activities and peer support to help participants overcome mental health issues caused by loneliness, isolation, and stigma.

ACT is a community-led charity that works across Argyll and the Isles for the benefit of communities, the coast and countryside. It was founded in 2014 and runs projects to conserve and enhance the region’s natural assets and encourage people to enjoy and benefit from the natural environment.

Branching Out is an initiative developed by Scottish Forestry which involves working in the woods doing activities, including building shelters, green woodworking, bush craft, tool use, conservation activities, gentle exercise, cooking on campfires and environmental art.

ACT also invites graduates of the Branching Out programmes to join other Moving On projects which provide opportunities to take control of activities, continue engagement with the outdoors and deepen social connections.

Though more funding is required, ACT is hopeful that its strong track record and evidence of positive outcomes will help to secure the investment required.

The lottery funding will contribute to two years of Branching Out programmes in four areas across Argyll and Bute.

Sara Maclean, co-ordinator of the Branching Out project in Argyll, said: ‘We are really looking forward to working with our partners again to make a difference to people’s lives.’

Nathalie Moriarty, Branching Out manager for Scottish Forestry added: ‘We are delighted with this excellent news on Big Lottery funding to keep the Branching Out momentum going in Argyll.

‘This new funding will be a lifeline to the people struggling with their mental health. I am certain of the positive outcomes and changes the project will make not only to their mental health, but also to the breadth of new skills they will learn and take with them into the future.’