British Council, Social Enterprise Academy and University of the Highlands & Islands are looking for young people in Scotland aged 18-35 to take part in a new programme tackling climate change.
The VISION (Virtual Impact Storytelling In Our Network) project aims to encourage young people with different skill sets and areas of expertise to engage in debate, dialogue and mutual exchange of ideas on the impact of climate change on their future.
Starting in May 2021, 30 young people (15 each from Malaysia and Scotland) will participate in a 12-day online learning experience with facilitators from Scotland and Malaysia over the course of six months. These learning sessions will explore ‘visioning for the future’ and ‘impact storytelling’ as ways young people can develop ideas in response to global climate challenges. The programme will close with a Global Impact Festival in November 2021 where young people will showcase and celebrate their projects.
Applications are open from now until 16 May 2021 to young people aged 18-35 who are passionate about supporting the fight for climate justice and collaborating with peers in Scotland and Malaysia.
Supporting partners of the project in Scotland include University of the Highlands and Islands and CoDeL (Community Development Lens).
Are you a young person aged 18-35 interested in supporting the fight for climate justice? Find out more about the programme and how to apply here.
The North Uist Development Company is entering a new phase and is actively seeking younger residents to join its board of directors. There is a position on the board particularly for someone aged 18-25 to bring their views on the future of the island’s development to NUDC.
On April 17th at 6pm there will be an online Member’s Gathering where members new and old can be updated on all of NUDC’s current projects and plans for the future and appointments to the new board of directors will be made.
Following the meeting there will be a talk by Connie Dawson of NatureScot titled “Ensuring a safe and resilient future: adapting to climate change in the Uists”.
The Gathering will start at 6pm, followed by Connie’s talk at 7pm. Follow the Zoom link here.
In September of this year an open letter regarding the current housing crisis in the Scottish Highlands and Islands was published by a group of community figures from Uist, Skye, Argyll and Mull. The letter has been gaining traction in national and international press and was recently raised in a Parliamentary Cross Party Members Debate by Alasdair Allan, MSP.
Addressed to ‘all for whom sustaining Highlands and Islands communities is a concern’, the letter focuses on growing worries that rising property prices in Scotland’s Highland and Island communities are making it almost impossible for local residents to purchase homes, a pre-existing concern that is being intensified by post-Covid ‘urban flight’ and an even greater number of cash buyers seeking second homes.
The letter calls for increased support for younger generations struggling to make their homes in the Highlands and Islands and cites a recent example of a Uist rental property successfully being marketed exclusively to young locals and rented to a family with three children. In a housing market where long term rentals are almost exclusively shunned in favour of holiday lets, the letter writers point out that this could serve as a template moving forwards.
The passionate and insightful letter has prompted national and international interest. It has been mentioned in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and The Herald as well as local papers Am Paipear, The West Highland Free Press and the Stornoway Gazette. It was the top trending item on the BBC News online, has featured in Eorpa on BBC Alba, on BBC TV Scottish News and The Nine as well as on Radio Scotland, Times radio and Radio nan Gaidheal in conversations with the leader of the council and Hebridean Housing Partnership.
The letter can be read in full here.
The Parliamentary Cross Party Debate can be watched here.
CoDeL is leading a new European funded project to assess the economic impacts of Covid-19 on peripheral communities from eastern Finland to Prince Edward Island in Canada, and to recommend policy and action that can enable these communities to be sustainable and thrive in the future.
The partnership led by CoDeL is funded under the Covid Response Call of the European Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and includes 6 universities or research institutes, 3 other public institutions (including NHS Highlands) and 3 business networks in the Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, all four Scandinavian countries, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada.
“With Brexit looming”, says CoDeL Director Thomas Fisher, “the Nordic and Arctic region and Scotland are determined to build ties to enable partnership working in the future. We are delighted that Uist in the Outer Hebrides can play a leading role in this work stretching across the whole Northern Periphery. All the partners are determined that the project draw up recommendations for economic renewal and redesign in peripheral areas that together we can implement in future. The project recommendations will influence the design of the next Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme funding round, and it is so important that Scotland has a strong voice in this.”
The uploaded document reflects discussion among community representatives on Uist and Barra, a majority of them young leaders and other younger islanders, facilitated by CoDeL.
The document does NOT represent the views of the participants in these discussions. The community discussions suggest that there is unlikely to be a consensus on how to proceed. Different members of the community have different experiences under lockdown, and above all face different risks within their family and community networks.
“Most people I speak to individually want lockdown to be eased, but this is not reflected in the public debate.”
“I have people within my family who are very at risk. The last thing I want is for lockdown to be eased now.”
The facilitated discussions nevertheless suggest that it is possible to have constructive discussions on the challenges at a community level, to enable people to express their opinions and for others to hear them, and for people to adapt their views accordingly. This is particularly important when some people’s views are amplified within media and social media, while many members of island communities do not air their views publicly even if, or perhaps especially if, they diverge from what is being articulated by others publicly.
The document looks at travel restrictions and testing, … challenges the focus on health vs economy, … includes tourism, crofting and other parts of local island economies, … considers the potential for localised approaches to lockdown, … and makes a range of suggestions.
A second post will explore in particular some of the potential harms being caused by lockdown on the islands, and in most other communities, too.
Recently we held the first Uist Open Space session on zoom. What a positive experience. Yes, we all face challenges under lockdown. And yet we also shared so many positive actions already happening within the community to support each other, and many ideas for future actions and development.
Current positive actions:
- A new housing group for Uist and Barra, currently with 3 councillors and 3 younger people, half men, half women, to access funding for and steer a new post to address the housing shortage that is preventing more younger people from staying, returning or settling on Uist.
- The launch of the Psychological Wellbeing Hub with 30 psychological first-aiders across the Western Isles
- Support for people to get connected, to boost data packages, etc through Cothrom
- The work of the Cuimhne project supporting those with dementia, their families and carers, whose workers are now recognised as essential workers and so able to visit people with dementia
- The work of Resilient Uist
- On-line classes (e.g. gentle exercise, Irish and Highland dancing)
- The work of the Tagsa horticulture project in providing seedlings
- Kallin Harbour doing well out of selling fish locally
- Langass Lodge offering eggs in telephone kiosk at Clachan to raise money for Tagsa
- A planned virtual ceilidh of Uist musicians
Some future plans:
- Support to identify employment opportunities for young people (funding support for young people into work is currently more flexible) (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
- An open space group to share and explore mental health issues, which will meet once a fortnight over zoom (contact Rona at email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org )
- A hope wall in the supermarkets and on facebook for people to put up their hopes, pictures, poems, etc. (contact email@example.com)
- A group/project or other vehicle to develop ideas and actions to make Uist communities and local economy more sustainable beyond the Covid-19 crisis (contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com)
We are sure that similar initiatives are happening on Scottish islands and internationally also, and across islands. We can all still buy products from Scottish Islands at Isle20.
… were some of the key themes in responses to CoDeL’s survey, targeted in particular at younger islanders on Uist and Barra. Here are some examples:
Resilience and social innovation would be particularly relevent to the current situation.
I’m sure your groups have covered resilience before, looking for more positive notes now is the time for the global population to wake up to the importance of our native and natural habitats, being environmentally aware, sustainable and not pushing mother nature to the limits that triggered this crisis. Uist is already doing well here, … what more can be done?
I think focussing on good news island stories around local economy and work, what you are already good at would be the best positive message at this time.
Strategies for staying strong, financial support for social enterprise resilience, positive messages.
It would be valuable to talk about how the current crisis could be used for positive social change after the crisis is over so we don’t just go back to how things were.
peer to peer learning is very valuable. What we want for our communities once this is all over. How to make it through.
I think looking at the wider economic potential in a positive light would be worthwhile.
How to organise mutual aid in situations like the current crisis. Finding ways in which we can collaborate beyond the crisis would also be helpful – whether pooling our resources and skills to organise creative get-togethers for the community to combat the lingering emotional impact of isolation, or to find new ways of working.
The survey sought views on what CoDeL as an organisation rooted in an island community could deliver over the internet during lockdown, to continue the work of the Smart Islands project.
Following the lead of the Social Enterprise Academy, CoDeL is primarily offering open sessions over Zoom. There was some interest in sessions and webinars on specific learning topics, and in one-to-one or small group coaching. There was far more interest in ‘open space’ sessions allowing peers to meet and share. In our next post we will report on the outcomes of the first of these sessions which are being held fortnightly.
Even before the Covid crisis, there was particular interest and energy for networking around issues of mental health, and this has become all the more important during lockdown: “I think it’s taking strain on each of us in varied and multiple ways.” So on the alternate weeks we will be organising ‘open space’ sessions focusing on mental health.
The Islands revival is being driven by the amazing social capital that islands deliver, which is encouraging people to return, settle and stay. The above average levels of social capital present in the islands has been evidenced by a recent report by the Scottish Government.
Social capital is the social connections that contribute to people’s quality of life, health, safety, economy and well-being in the neighborhoods where they live. These social connections are a source of support through people’s lives, for instance, in education, workplaces, retirement and leisure.Continue reading “Islands’ Social Capital”
Representatives from CoDeL have been asked to present at the International Small Island Studies Association 2020 conference in Newfoundland in June.
Newfoundland, an island at the eastern end of the Canadian Maritimes, shares similar concerns regarding outmigration and climate change resilience.