Sponsored content: London North Eastern Railway’s £500,000 Customer and Community Investment Fund opens for new applications from charities and community groups on 27 June, writes David Horne
LNER is far more than a train operator for the East Coast Main Line. We are focused on being an integral part of the communities we serve. One way we represent and contribute to the issues that matter to our customers across Scotland and England is through our Customer and Community Investment Fund (CCIF).
We fund organisations within 15 miles of the East Coast Main Line, where there is an important identified social need. This includes projects that are focused on creating a more inclusive, prosperous and connected community.
One of the organisations we work with is Carr Gomm. Based in Edinburgh, the social and community development charity supports 2,000 people a day, with a specific focus to tackle loneliness and isolation. Our CCIF funding has also supported the Men in Sheds project in Craigmillar. The shed acts as a meeting place for men to come together to share their skills and build friendships. Craigmillar is one of the most deprived communities in Scotland, with many people dying 20 years earlier than in other parts of Edinburgh.
It is not only friendships that are built. The Men in Sheds project has tangible, practical benefits for the wider community – only recently, a ramp was constructed for a woman who had accessibility issues to her home.
Alan, a veteran, was part of the team that completed the project and was referred to Men in Sheds by his doctor, as it was thought that it would help him manage his post-traumatic stress disorder, a result from serving in Germany during the Cold War. By being able to share his knowledge, gained through his careers that also included being a labourer and miner, he has seen a positive improvement in his mental health.
The project has also impacted the lives of John and Michael for the better. John experienced isolation from living alone having no family, and his friends having either moved or passed away. The shed, however, has helped John build new friendships and learn new skills, something that he thought would not be possible as a man in his sixties. He visits the shed three times a week and has, in his own words, “broadened his horizons”.
Michael, in his thirties, was referred by his GP Community Link Worker. He struggled with substance abuse, and has attended the shed which enables him to immerse himself in work.
No doubt Men in Sheds has helped transform lives and will continue to do so. It is with great pride that LNER has been able to support this project. The Men in Sheds project builds confidence, self-esteem and employability. Forty per cent of men who regularly attend the shed have found permanent employment, and all, like Alan, John and Michael, have built new friendships and feel less isolated as a result.
We want to support more valuable community organisations and projects right across Scotland, from the Borders to the Highlands. I would encourage anyone who has a project that will create a more inclusive, prosperous and connected community to get in touch. Our next round for 2023/2024 opens on 27 June and closes on 31 July.
To apply please visit our website.
David Horne is managing director at LNER