Young Leaders

CoDeL and the Social Enterprise Academy worked together to deliver an accredited leadership programme for younger people on Uist, with funding from the Scottish Government (Rural Economy and Communities Division).

Thirteen young people, most in their 20s, participated in the programme, engaging in three two-day modules from November 2018 to February 2019. The programme laid some of the long-term foundations for young leaders in Uist campaigning actively on diverse issues such as housing, Gaelic, crofting and local air traffic control.

The leadership learning programme was characterised by experiential or action learning, a strengths-based approach, peer learning within the group and co-coaching.

Peer network.  Half the participants suggested peer networking (“meeting other driven young people”), was the most helpful part of the programme, the one with the greatest impact.

The network built over the 3 sessions has shown me that I am not alone in waiting to see positive change in Uist. This has given me greater confidence in my voice.”

I have more of the tools now to make things happen, a supportive group around me and room for collaborations.”

It is peer networking that is likely to have contributed significantly to the participants’ overall feelings about the programme: empowering, wonderful, inspiring, life-changing, exciting, enlightening, reassuring, a beginning, invigorating.

Personal development.  The participants gained greater self-confidence and voice through the programme

I think my empathy has improved, but also my ability to stand up and stay strong for what I believe in.

I’ve learnt a lot about my leadership style and what I would like to make happen on Uist.

I have reflected and identified ways in which to lead a group effectively, fairly and efficiently

This course has made me a better person as well as a better leader.

Impact on organisations.  Some of the participants were employed by local organisations that have seen an impact on their staff. One CEO commented:

The feedback from them has been absolutely wonderful. They loved the topics, the speakers, the coaching and the chance to meet and network with others. I have seen real professional development and a huge growth in their confidence. Having access to a programme of this quality, locally, is incredibly important. This is the kind of initiative that brings young talented people back to Uist and also helps keep them here. “

Participants themselves mentioned better relationships with their line managers, feeling “much more empowered and capable of making change and taking initiative”, “taking on more responsibility, and with confidence”, and “improved communication with key stakeholders to enact change”.

Focus on future action.  During the learning programme participants created joint visions for the future of Uist and developed their own ideas to contribute to a positive future for the islands. These ideas involved Gaelic and crofting, music, arts, and festivals, the environment and renewable energy, addiction services, local and national democracy.

This programme has already inspired me to initiate an independent project, and I will continue to push that forward.

I have several personal dreams that I’d never opened up about and that I am now pursuing with determination.

Perhaps most importantly, several participants have been able to progress their plans:

  • securing new funding to deliver a new post-detox recovery service, which was judged by the funder to be an outstanding application
  • launching a Gaelic book club
  • launching a business providing dance classes to children and adults
  • planning an environmental event that has become an increasingly large project (“exciting as well a little daunting”)
  • launching a food business start-up, with pop-up stalls at community events
The Scottish Government funding was in part to see whether the research and follow-up action could be replicated in other areas of remote and rural Scotland. Participants on the leadership programme were very willing to recommend the programme to others, with one commenting: “Fantastic course. Get this programme run widespread in all communities”.