The National Lottery Community Fund’s ‘Improving Lives’ project has recognised North Berwick Coastal Community Connections (NBCCC) with a major funding award of £195,000 over three years, taking the project to a new level of security and expanded service to the coastal communities.

NBCCC was launched in 2019, set up as a social prescribing service to identify people in the community, experiencing loneliness and social isolation, to become members. The project has worked hard to find ways to support its members, building their confidence, connections and friendships through social activities across the coastal area. In March 2020, the project had to quickly adapt to the pandemic, navigating lockdown guidelines, with many of the project members shielding. At that time gatherings came to an abrupt end, however the project’s volunteers gave their time, commitment and kindness and made it possible for the Project Officer, Carol Stobie, to develop befriending and later Buddy Walks services in response to the pandemic.

Robert Burgon, NBCCC Co-Chair said: “We are delighted that the project has received this support and recognition. There is possibly even more need than ever for a project of this nature as so many people in our community have experienced the long-lasting impact of the pandemic. We look forward to developing our services as we address social isolation and loneliness, across all age groups, in the coastal ward.”

The project continues to evolve, providing essential support to its members, while adapting to the ever-changing Covid-19 guidelines.

Carol commented that, “We’re absolutely thrilled that funding has been secured. It’s been a tough 18 months with many of our members struggling with greater isolation than ever, and new referrals steeply increasing over this time. Now we can plan to reinstate some of our original core face to face work, including Scone Café at the Abbey Church Hall (new timing to be confirmed), and to reopen our partnership activities with many other community groups. This includes a Compassionate Neighbours project to support people with a terminal diagnosis, in partnership with North Berwick Compassionate Communities. We’ll also be able to sustain our newer one-to-one services, with befriending and Buddy Walks for the most vulnerable members, led by Lisa Brownlie, our wonderful Befriending Coordinator. We’re hoping to recruit a third team member for administration and communications tasks. We held our AGM on 29th September and appointed several brilliant new trustees, Becky Everett, Liz Weir and Donna McArdle. They will join existing trustees Robert Burgon and Bill Brown. So we’re going from strength to strength. This is mostly thanks to the incredible dedication of over 40 current volunteers who deliver all these vital services.”

A family member and carer commented,

“We just wanted to say how grateful we are for the support that NBCCC have given our mother/mother-in-law… getting a caring phone call from someone out-with the family, having the support to get out of the house, and more recently a weekly meeting with someone that has now become a friend for a cup of tea. This has lifted her mood and given her some zest of life back which is such a relief…. for those who have no support team this service is critical.”

A member wrote to the Project Officer:

“Thank you very much for the adorable Christmas card and cookies… it was my only Christmas Present and nice to have something to unwrap!!”

Loneliness and social isolation can affect a range of ages. If you feel lonely or isolated or know someone (over 18, in North Berwick Coastal ward) who may benefit from this project, please contact Carol Stobie, Project Officer, for more information on 07940 203380 or