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Thanks to a public vote, 26 local groups and organisations have secured funding totalling £109,985 from the Community Choices Small Grants Programme.

Run by Falkirk Council in partnership with the Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership, Community Choices aims to provide local people with a way to apply for public funding to improve their local area and vote to decide how public money is spent.

Almost 3,300 eligible votes were cast by residents in favour of projects they felt best reflected the strengths, needs and aspirations of their local community. The votes ensured every bid made for Small Grants of up to £5,000 were successful in this round of the initiative.

Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn, Leader of Falkirk Council, said: "By taking the time to vote, local people have ensured a wide range of groups and organisations will receive funding to kickstart or continue projects that bring to the life the aim of Community Choices – to make the area fairer, healthier, more connected and more inclusive."

Funding drive

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Pictured: Rod McNeill, Chair, with volunteers from Bon'ess Car 4U.

Bo'ness Car 4U was over the moon when it heard its bid for £5,000 had been successful. The charity, which launched its free hospital transport service for cancer patients this month (January), will use the funding to help cover volunteer mileage costs up to December 2022.

Registered as a charity in May 2020, the pandemic initially stopped its search for volunteers and funding but thanks to a push at the end of last year, the charity now has seven volunteer drivers and hopes to at least double that number by summer.

Using the service is simple. GPs - based in medical practices in Bo’ness - refer patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and are unable to get to and from hospital appointments on their own, to the charity. Bo’ness Car 4U then liaises directly with the patient to arrange transportation, picking them up and dropping them off at their home.

Rod McNeill, Chair, Bo’ness Car 4U, said: “Because the funding will help cover our biggest outlay – mileage - until the end of the year, it provides us with peace of mind. Having that financial security also means we can focus on growing our volunteer numbers as well as secure further funding to help us continue the service into 2023 and beyond.

“We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us through Community Choices, it really is appreciated. Your support will not only help us reduce the length of time a patient is away from home, but also the stress they face travelling to and from treatment at a very difficult time in their lives.”

Award hits the right note

Another charity to successfully secure a Small Grants awarded – this time for £4,800 - is Strathcarron Hospice. The hospice, based in Denny, will use the money to fund its 'Lymph Notes’ Choir for the next four months (January to April this year).

The choir was initially launched in August 2021 as a pilot musical therapy programme for those living with lymphoedema, a chronic condition where a collection of lymph fluid cannot drain away.

Lymphoedema can be caused by a variety of factors, including cancer, cancer treatments, trauma, injury or genetics, and results in swelling – often of the limbs, but other parts of the body such as the head and neck can be affected too. Although it can’t be cured, it can usually be well controlled.

During the initial six-month pilot, the choir, currently based in Denny Baptist Church, provided its 17 members with an opportunity to meet others living with the condition as well as have a creative outlet. As a result, members recorded, on average, a 35% increase in their mental health and mood.

Now, the choir’s recording of ‘Caledonia’ is raising vital funds for the hospice, which provides specialist palliative care and expert end of life care to people living in Forth Valley, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.

Margaret-Anne Garner, Lymphoedema Specialist, Strathcarron Hospice said: “What the choir has been able to do is create a safe space for people with lymphoedema and lipoedema to meet, build relationships and share experiences, all the while learning new skills.

“We are extremely grateful for the support shown by all those who voted for our project. The Small Grants funding will allow us to continue running the choir, providing members with a way to manage their condition as well as reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.”

To find out more about Community Choices, visit