Surf therapy programme boosted by University grant scheme

A group that specialises in a unique style of trauma-informed surf therapy for women is benefiting from a University initiative that supports community ventures.

Groundswell Scotland surf therapy sessions
Groundswell Scotland surf therapy sessions

The grant from the University of Edinburgh Community Grant Scheme will enable Groundswell Scotland to enhance its innovative surf therapy programme.

This project has been specially designed to provide women in recovery with methods of healing and long lasting engagement in friendships, community and purpose.

Groundswell Scotland 'Sand and Sea' group reflective sessions
Groundswell Scotland 'Sand and Sea' group reflective sessions


Groundswell Surf Therapy is a programme that takes place over seven weeks, using a combination of engaging and fun outdoor activities in group or individual settings, such as surfing, for those who may not find traditional therapies appealing.

It uses the ocean as a rehabilitation tool, much like art is used in art therapy, to help women self-regulate difficult emotions and navigate potential triggers to widen their capacity to deal with stress.

The non-profit organisation also facilitates community programmes, workshops and bespoke retreats with focus on journaling, breath work, yoga, surf safety and sea swimming.

Positive impact

Since its establishment in 2017, the University of Edinburgh Community Grant Scheme has helped a number of local initiatives to deliver positive changes in the community, from reducing inequality to improving health and wellbeing.

Over £600,000 has been disbursed to more than 200 different projects at 176 organisations, positively impacting the lives of over 26,000 people.

The University awards community grants to groups operating in the City of Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Scottish Borders.

The ocean has so much power to help build an individual’s self-awareness and esteem - important elements when healing from trauma. The funding from the University will help us to continue our work into such a valuable initiative that will benefit hundreds of women as they unite through shared experiences and bond over the joys of surfing.

Sally HarrisFounder and Lead Facilitator of Groundswell Scotland

Reducing inequalities

Further community causes to benefit from the latest round of funding include a support group for vulnerable young people from the most deprived areas of West Lothian.

The £4,200 grant from the Scheme will help The School Bank West Lothian to create essential ‘Transition Packs’ for 120 children starting their first year at High School, including comprehensive stationery and a school uniform.

With these packs, School Bank West Lothian hopes to relieve financial insecurity and stress, reduce the likelihood of children being bullied and improve their life chances as they are more likely to attend school and engage in their learning.

There are large inequalities between young people across the region, and through this project we aim to tackle these head on with practical support that makes a real difference. We are extremely grateful to receive this grant from the University of Edinburgh to help us achieve our mission.

Collette MoranProject Manager at The School Bank West Lothian

Help for the holidays

Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000 project will also benefit from a grant for its six-week summer programme that will provide a range of activities and daily hot meals for 11-18 year olds living within the Mayfield and Easthouses community in Midlothian.

The support from the Community Grant Scheme has helped provide over 50 young people over the summer school break with positive, diversionary activities, as well as giving them the opportunity to try new ones. 

Over the six week break, free daily meals were provided, helping to challenge the issue of holiday hunger. The cost of living crisis has increased the need for holiday time support significantly and it has been fantastic to be able to see so many young people having an enjoyable, safe and memorable summer holiday.

Lyndsey RitchieProject Manager at Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000

Wellbeing Hub

Funding through the Community Grants scheme will help The Larder West Lothian set up a Wellbeing Hub in its community shop and café in Blackburn by the end of 2023.

The Hub will support locals affected by poverty, social isolation or who are otherwise vulnerable. Cookery, games, entertainment, and advice sessions are planned to take place three days a week at the Hub.

The Larder is delighted to work with The University of Edinburgh on this project. Our new community café and shop in the Mill Centre in Blackburn will offer low cost, high quality food to local people. The support from the University will allow us to plan and run a programme of events and activities in the café for patrons in the afternoons and early evenings. The joint project will run for four months and we hope in that time to build long lasting relationships between the people of Blackburn and the University.”

Angela MoohanCEO of The Larder

Over five years, the University’s Community Grant Scheme has supported over 200 projects and social enterprises for the benefit of people and places across South East Scotland. The scheme is a core part of our Community Plan and we are immensely proud to have contributed to such a diverse range of impactful projects. We will continue to work closely with initiatives to nurture relationships and empower community action in support of social and environmental values."

Dave GormanDirector of Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh

Related Links

Community grants | The University of Edinburgh

Community grants scheme hits £500k milestone | The University of Edinburgh

Community Grant Scheme: Five years of community impact report

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Groundswell Scotland

The School Bank West Lothian

Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000 project

The Larder West Lothian

Image credit - James Appleton