CALLS were made last week for continued support to former mining communities to address the social and economic challenges that still exist.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) made the call as the inaugural National Coalfields Day took place last Friday, November 29.

Nicky Wilson, who started out in the local mining industry in 1967 and has been a CRT Scotland trustee since it launched 20 years ago, is urging people and organisations to continue supporting areas that still experience inequalities.

He said: "Because I worked in coal mining and was active in the trade union, I saw the dramatic impact the closure of pits had on local communities that often only existed because of the collieries.

"Over the last 20 years, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has been doing great work in stimulating communities to be proud of themselves again.

"Our Community Futures programme, for example, has supported more than 40 groups in developing action plans that help local people transform where they live.

"While National Coalfields Day is an excellent way to mark the success that has been achieved and progress that has been made, it's vital that we all continue to support forming mining areas across Scotland to tackle ongoing social and economic inequalities."

The CRT says challenges faced by former mining communities include health problems, higher than average rates of unemployment as well as below-average earnings.

The organisation also highlighted early findings from ongoing research it commissioned through the Social Value Lab, showing that while some areas have improved since the first such study in 2013, more have slipped into the most deprived districts of Scotland.

While CRT has invested more than £20million in former mining communities across Scotland over the years, chiefs say regeneration work is still required.

The trust has been active in and around Kincardine in recent years, especially since the closure of the Longannet Power Station, and even moved its Scottish headquarters to the town where it created the Training and Enterprise Hub in a derelict bank building.

Backed by the Scottish Government, CRT has an array of ongoing projects further afield as well and also organises the Coalfields Community Cup and Coalfields Home Internationals annual football tournaments.