VOLUNTEERS at an Inverness community centre are to be given a helping hand after being awarded almost £27,000.
Merkinch Community Centre, which relies on a team of about 40 dedicated volunteers to help run its broad programme of activities, secured the funding from Voluntary Action's volunteering support fund.
The centre's management committee chairperson Anne McCreadie was delighted with the award totalling £26,950 over three years.
It will be used to provide training and support.
"It is very important because we depend on volunteers," she said.
"We couldn't function without them.
"Some volunteer regularly at lunch clubs, for example, while some come in occasionally to help at special functions.
"Our youngest regular volunteer is 17 years old while there are others in their 70s.
"There people who are widowed who come along and get involved and get a lot out of it.
"It is a lifeline to many people."
Volunteering tasks include catering, stewarding, cleaning, driving the minibus and helping at clubs for adults with learning difficulties.
The community centre hopes to recruit 15 new volunteers each year throughout the duration of the funding.
Development officer Elsie Normington said the centre had 60,236 visits last year and required a high number of volunteers for the broad range of activities.
"We are delighted to receive this funding award which will enable us to support our volunteers and provide a programme of 'in house' training and support," Mrs Normington said.
"We could not achieve our centre programme without our volunteers."