Nine areas across Scotland are set to share a pot of £2.4 million to help their regeneration and benefit residents.
The cash comes from the National Lottery’s Great Place scheme, which allows communities to explore how their unique heritage and culture can be utilised to benefit local quality of life and attract visitors to the region.
The grants are aimed at helping improve future prospects while also tackling issues such as poverty, employment, health and education.
The nine places, spread across the nation from the Outer Hebrides in the north to Dumfries and Galloway in the south, are the first projects in Scotland to receive funding through the UK-wide scheme.
Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “You can’t imagine Paisley without its pattern or Dunfermline without its abbey.
“Heritage and culture give a place a unique identity and make it special for the people that live there. It’s the roots, if you like.
“This scheme will show how building on those roots can have a hugely positive impact on local economies in terms of health, employment and education, as well as well as instilling community cohesion and pride.
“Thanks to players of the National Lottery, we are enabling a step-change in thinking, encouraging local leaders to come together and recognise that heritage is a driving force for change.”
The grants, which range from £150,000 to £462,300, are aimed at helping forge new links to maximise community benefit; devise new ways to include built and natural heritage in education and health services; address inequality, involve young people and provide training opportunities; research how heritage can boost the local economy; explore new ways to finance heritage organisations; and build on existing initiatives.
The awards have been welcomed by ministers.
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “In Scotland’s towns and rural areas, there are numerous buildings and places of cultural significance. I commend the Great Place scheme and welcome this investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund in supporting communities in the development and promotion of their local cultural assets.”
Matt Hancock, UK government secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, added: “Heritage is what makes our towns and cities unique. It attracts tourists and visitors and inspires local residents and businesses.
“This £2.4 million investment in Scotland, funded by National Lottery players from across the UK, is harnessing that power to bring communities together, strengthening local economies and making a real difference to people’s lives across the country.”