The Enchanted Forest Community Trust, the charitable organisation behind Scotland’s favourite sound and light show, The Enchanted Forest, established for the economic benefit of the community, has awarded a record number of grants to registered charities operating in Highland Perthshire – the highest ever figure of £97,815 to 26 organisations.

Having also received the highest ever number of applications this year, the Enchanted Forest Community Fund was set up in 2015 to redistribute the proceeds from the annual event to the local community in Highland Perthshire. This year the fund was open to registered charities operating within Highland Perthshire who could apply for up to £10,000 from the fund to finance projects. The charity specifically sought applications that focused on helping people in need with the cost of living crisis, help with battling child poverty and focus on child welfare and increase inclusion, enablement, independence, mental health and wellbeing.

The Trust was also looking for projects which increase access to employment, volunteering, learning, culture, sport, and leisure opportunities and aim to improve infrastructure which benefits the community and promotes sustainability through best practices.

One of the 26 charities to receive grant funding is the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group, a charitable body founded during the pandemic to support people struggling financially in Highland Perthshire, covering a mostly rural area, stretching from Logierait, Ballinluig, Grandtully to Aberfeldy, Dull and Weem. The support offered by the group includes providing laptops for Ukrainians recently moved to the area, supporting flood victims living in Ballinluig and providing financial support for schools to provide breakfast clubs for pupils who otherwise wouldn’t eat. According to the Local Child Poverty Action Report 2022/23, produced by Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside, 5,914 children (21.9%) in Perth and Kinross are living in relative poverty.

Judy Ewer, founder and member of the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty working group, which includes representatives from local churches, schools, the community warden, and other support groups such as Christians Against Poverty and Breathe Youth Project, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the funding received from the Enchanted Forest Community Trust, which enables us to continue to offer support to those who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulties through no fault of their own. We are able to come alongside them and offer them financial support, which has a massive positive impact on their mental health and general wellbeing. As we know financial stress can be a huge burden. We have an upper limit on the amount given to each case, and the charity trustees scrutinise every case to ensure the right amount of funds are reaching the right people.”

Established just over a year ago, Pitlochry Community Action Trust is another charity to receive grant funding from the Enchanted Forest Community Trust. The charity exists to deliver the priorities laid out in the community action plan which was developed in consultation with local residents’ to gather their thoughts and feelings about how Pitlochry could be improved.

Beth Taylor, Development Officer at the Pitlochry Community Action Trust, said: “We’re so grateful to be awarded this grant from The Enchanted Forest Community Trust. Three different projects will be benefitting from the funding;  each of these focus on improving the general environment of Pitlochry for residents and visitors alike. This includes improving signage, installing new waste bins throughout the town, and  looking into the feasibility of taking community ownership of the town hall.”

Other charities operating in Highland Perthshire awarded grant funding include the Pitlochry Community First Responders, The Sunshine Box who supply new toys, books, games, toiletries and pyjamas to children in hospital in NHS Tayside who might be going for painful or frightening procedures, and Christians Against Poverty, Aberfeldy, who exist to provide free, personalised, local debt advice and budgeting support to anyone in Highland Perthshire.

Nela Popovic, Executive Director of The Enchanted Forest Community Trust, said: “Thanks to the success of the 2023 Enchanted Forest event we’ve been able to give back over £97,000 to 26 registered charities operating in the Highland Perthshire region, this is almost twice as much as was awarded in 2023. The show would not be the success it is without the support of the local Highland Perthshire community, and giving back to the community is our way of saying a big thank you, whilst also supporting many very worthy charities who are doing some incredible work in Highland Perthshire.

“Our desire is that the Enchanted Forest Community Fund is a force for good, creating a lasting positive impact and legacy within the community in which the event has called its home for the last twenty-plus years. It’s fantastic to see this vision come to life through the many charities and community groups we have supported and continue to support through the fund.”

The Enchanted Forest Community Trust requires that all charities who have received the grant funding report back on how they have used their money in relation to their request, demonstrating how it has helped people in need with the cost of living crisis in the Highland Perthshire area; increased inclusion, enablement, independence, mental health and wellbeing; increased access to employment, volunteering, learning, culture, sport and leisure opportunities and improved infrastructure that benefits the community.

To access the full list of the successful charities, please visit: The Community – The Enchanted Forest