The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) has marked 20 years of helping mining communities recover from the devastating effects of pit closures at an event at The Scottish Parliament, where its latest round of annual Scottish Government funding worth £750,000 was announced.
At the event hosted by Colin Beattie MSP on the evening of Wednesday 29 May, the CRT, politicians and community groups gathered to reflect on progress made in the regeneration of former mining villages and towns across the country, under the theme of ‘Pits, People, Progress’.
Speaking on the evening, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell MSP confirmed that the CRT will receive £750,000 to fund it for the next year to continue its work in former mining communities. The funding will be used to strengthen coalfield communities through a range of regeneration-led activities. Since its launch in 1999, CRT in Scotland has invested more than £20 million into communities. It has supported local initiatives to improve health and employment prospects for residents of coalfield areas. Its focus is on community-based projects and job creation schemes in Scotland’s hardest hit areas.
Initiatives supported by CRT include Auchingeich Miners Memorial, dedicated to the miners who lost their lives in the pit disasters of 1931 and 1959; Netherthird Community Garden that brightens up the area and offers jobs and training to young people and the Coalfields Community Cup and Coalfields Home Internationals annual football tournaments, which Scotland has won three times since 2008, competing against England and Wales.
CRT itself last year moved to its new Scottish headquarters in the Coalfields Training and Enterprise Hub in the centre of Kincardine, a former bank building which the organisation completely renovated.
At the Scottish Parliament, CRT displayed its ‘Pits, People, Progress’ banner. This is designed in the style of the mining banners that pits used to have, many of which are still on display at local gala days held each year.
CRT brought together a number of community groups it has supported through the years to come up with ideas for content for the ‘Pits, People, Progress’ banner. The final banner looks back to the dark days of the closure of the mines and charts progress in the last 20 years, moving into the light and optimism brought by the rejuvenation of communities and new jobs created.
It also unveiled its commemorative ‘Pits, People, Progress’ ceramic plate as well as its coffee table book of photography featuring some of the communities helped by CRT in the last two decades. Anniversary activities will be held across Scotland throughout the year.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “I’d like to congratulate Coalfields Regeneration Trust on reaching the significant milestone of 20 years of its operations in Scotland. The Trust has a long established and impressive history of supporting our coalfield communities to initiate meaningful and sustainable change. The Scottish Government will continue to support the work of CRT by providing £750,000 in 2019/20 to further fund the Trust in delivering its key programmes.”
Colin Beattie MSP said: “I was delighted to sponsor the Coalfields Regeneration Trust event last night to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. Coal has been such an important part of my constituency’s past and the work done by the Trust to support our communities following its demise has had a huge and ongoing beneficial impact.
“Congratulations also on the amazing banner created to commemorate this significant anniversary.”
Nicky Wilson, a Scottish trustee with Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: “We would like to thank the Scottish Government for its ongoing support. We were delighted to have £750,000 of funding over the next year confirmed by the Cabinet Secretary. And we also grateful to Colin Beattie MSP for hosting our 20th anniversary event at The Scottish Parliament.
“Over the last two decades we have been committed improving the quality of life of former mining communities across Scotland and that work will continue. We’ve invested more than £20 million in helping local initiatives rejuvenate former mining towns and villages. But more remains to be done and we will build on our achievements.
“As well as our event at The Scottish Parliament, to mark our 20th anniversary we’re planning a series of events and anniversary year with the unveiling of our ‘Pits, People, Progress’.”
Image shows (left to right): Colin Beattie MSP; Gary Ellis, chief executive of Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Aileen Campbell MSP, Communities Secretary