Funding boost for Interest Link Borders

A Borders charity which provides volunteer support for people with learning disabilities is celebrating a welcome funding boost with the award of a grant of nearly £6,000 from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland.

Interest Link Borders was founded in Berwickshire in 1990 and has since expanded to cover the whole of the Scottish Borders through branches in Duns, Galashiels, Hawick and Peebles.

Its 150 volunteers provide a meaningful befriending service to people with learning disabilities.

As project co-ordinator Andrew Findlay explained: “Most people with learning disabilities now live in the community but are to a large extent excluded from it. We link them up with a friend, who spend time with them not because they are paid to but because they want to.

“They have a special relationship with service users, impacting hugely on their confidence, life skills and wellbeing.”

As well as its befriending service, the charity facilitates a range of activities, such as playing golf, painting, bird watching, shopping, swimming and going to the cinema, and runs separate services for adults, young people and children.

The £5,902 grant from the Foundation will go towards the salary of the charity’s assistant co-ordinator, who is based in Duns.

Mary Craig OBE, chief executive of the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to help Interest Link Borders, which makes an excellent contribution to the work of supporting people with learning disabilities in the Scottish Borders.”

The grant takes to £85,214 the amount the charity has received from the Foundation since 1998.

Mr Findlay said: “We get a small amount of local authority funding but grants such as this are absolutely crucial to us. We are extremely grateful to the Foundation for its support.”

In its latest round of grants, just announced, the Foundation approved grants totalling nearly £500,000 to 40 charities throughout Scotland. The grant to Interest Link Borders was made under the Foundation’s Henry Duncan Awards scheme, which mainly supports organisations working in the field of mental health, projects supporting people with disabilities, illness or poor health, projects working in areas of poverty, and families in chaos. The scheme is named after Henry Duncan, the Scot who more than 200 years ago founded the first trustee savings bank, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Foundation.

Charities which would like more information about applying to the Foundation for an award should contact the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland on 0131 444 4020.