A pioneering community project led by local people has been awarded funding from Big Lottery Fund Scotland’s Supporting Great Ideas Fund to help combat long-term poverty and disadvantage.

The £296,452 award will support Inspiring Scotland’s Link Up programme in Saltcoats and Dundee to support more local to become community activists and develop solutions to the long-term challenges faced by their community.

Currently active in nine other communities across Scotland, Link Up helps local people establish social groups in anything from peer-led recovery cafes to cycle clubs to weekly knitting groups, giving local people the confidence and self-belief to influence positive change for themselves and increasingly, their community.

Andrew Magowan, Link Up Programme Manager at Inspiring Scotland, said: “This funding will be used to develop a new kind of community activism; one that is led by the local people who are so often the least heard and one that empowers them to tackle the issues that really matter for their community.

“From our experience in areas across Scotland, we know that the ingredients for change already lie in our communities in the shape of the passion, skills, knowledge and interests of local people. We want to help people use these strengths and prove that change driven by the voices and actions of local people can deliver material reductions in poverty and disadvantage.”

Audrey Sutton, Head of Service (Connected Communities) at North Ayrshire Council, said: “North Ayrshire is delighted to be involved in the next step of the Link Up journey in Saltcoats. The first phase of the project has allowed strong partnerships to evolve between the Council and partners and Inspiring Scotland, and more importantly, with the Saltcoats community. The benefits are already clear - more people are engaged in community activities and this next stage will result in enriching and deepening involvement and commitment to community-led projects and new ways of working.

“We are very grateful that Saltcoats is benefitting from this investment, we look forward to working together with Inspiring Scotland to make the most of the opportunities it brings.”