Looking out for our neighbours

The ramifications of the Covid-19 outbreak have been rippling through communities for weeks, affecting people in myriad ways. Find out how the University of Edinburgh has been working with local charities to support those in need.

venchie project
Photo: Neil Hanna

In Edinburgh’s Craigmillar district, a queue of people snakes around the pavement. They’re waiting for emergency food packages, being delivered by Edinburgh charity the Venchie Children and Young People’s Project.  

This project was set up to provide children and young people with a range of play, recreation and issue-based youth work but now, supported by funding from the University of Edinburgh’s Community Grants Scheme, it is delivering an emergency food service to families in Craigmillar, cooking and delivering 600 meals a day, six days a week.

“When lockdown was announced we identified a huge need for an emergency food delivery service in localities in Edinburgh. Through help from the University we've been able to address the need,” Susan Heron Manager of Venchie Children and Young People's Project.

This is just one of a number of Edinburgh projects, which has benefitted from support from the University’s Community Grants Scheme.

Carers of East Lothian (CoEL) have also received an award. The group offers music therapy workshops for unpaid carers, and provide a safe and supportive social environment in which they can relax.

CoEL focuses on supporting carers so that they can continue to care for others, providing all types of advice for those who deal with the physical and emotional demands of caring for someone on a full-time basis.

venchie project
Photo: Neil Hanna

Launched in 2017, the Community Grants Scheme is part of the University’s wider strategy to make a positive social impact locally through connecting staff and students with opportunities to volunteer for grass-roots projects and widening access to formal and informal learning opportunities.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the University has significantly expanded the scheme to be able to prioritise those projects and services that will support people most vulnerable to the negative economic, social and health impacts of Covid-19.

Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, said: “In such difficult times, universities have a crucial role to play in offering hope through new research, clarity by sharing of expert information and direct contributions in offering support for the communities to which we belong.

This month, the University launched its Covid-19 Partnerships Fund to raise money to support University-backed initiatives, such as the Community Grants Scheme, to contribute to the global response to Covid-19.

Related links

Covid-19 Partnerships Fund

Community Grants Scheme