A new £1.7m package to support recovery from Covid-19 in East Renfrewshire has been agreed, with mental health help for vulnerable people set to be provided.

It has been put together with remaining money from Scottish Government grants and aims to help residents struggling with the long-term impact of the pandemic as well as the cost of living crisis.

Almost £718,000 has been set aside for improving mental health in “priority groups”, including children and young people, particularly those with additional support needs, carers, young families and women experiencing domestic violence.

Around £200,000 is earmarked for financial advice services, such as the council’s money advice and rights team and Citizens Advice Bureau. 

A council official said the funding plans looked at “gaps in recovery” and opportunities to fund longer-term more sustainable approaches.

“This is the last funding we have, we need to get communities back up and running and able to do these things for themselves,” she added.

Some money will be held back for a final round of funding proposals in October this year to support people during winter.

Mental health support will include early years’ language development and social communication help to “increase the number of children meeting developmental milestones” and help for young people affected by drug and alcohol use.

Help for children will include sleep counselling and art/play therapy as part of efforts to reduce the need for “medication and alleviate service pressures”.

Cllr Katie Pragnell, Labour, the council’s health convener, said the support could prevent young people “having to enter CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)”, as “the CAMHS waiting lists are very high at the moment”.

She added: “I welcome this set of proposals, I think they will make a tremendous amount of difference to the people of East Renfrewshire while we continue to recover from covid.

“I also welcome the funding for the health and social care partnership, it has been quite clear we are struggling with demand and covid has had a huge impact.”

Just under £300,000 will be used for “community recovery” which includes youth work to tackle increased “anti-social and risk-taking behaviours” and helping “to get community groups going again”.

The proposals also include £110,000 for direct financial support in winter. It could include a winter payment for those in receipt of free school meals or clothing grants.

Councillors agreed to reserve £250,000 for any required response to Covid-19, such as “continuity of staffing cover” in health and social care partnership (HSCP) roles.

They decided £125,000 can be spent on council and HSCP “organisational recovery”, including clearing backlogs, reducing waiting lists and “building back” services which haven’t recovered from the pandemic.

Council leader Owen O’Donnell, Labour, thanked council officials for the “huge amount of work they have put into helping our communities recover”.

“It is hugely appreciated by the people of East Renfrewshire,” he said. “It’s clear that the £4.4m package we put together last year is having a significant impact on recovery.”

A council report stated: “There are a range of pressures on local people and communities, particularly driven by the pandemic and cost-of living crisis. These are complex multi-faceted issues, which will require a co-ordinated, long-term partnership approach.”