From Grimsay to Galway

The CoDeL update on the Smart Islands project for December, 2019, featuring the week in the Isle of Grimsay in October, the training week in Galway, Ireland, and a few other activities we’ve been up to.

Working with the Director of Schools with the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board, during the Smart Islands training week in Ireland.

Following on from the successful week in Grimsay, 4 facilitators from CoDeL and the Scottish Islands Federation Chair came together with representatives from Toraigh (Tory Island), Árainn Mhór (Arranmore), Clare Island, Inishturk, Inishbofin, Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, Inis Oírr, Bere Island, Cape Clare Island and Sherkin Island to work towards enterprising solutions for their own communities by utilising coaching skills learned during the week.

The intensive course combined asset identification with economic skills to established a shared discussion about island-based enterprise. The week was extremely positive, and the Irish representatives left with a genuine sense of enthusiasm for the project, which will see them coach young people within their own communities.

The full report can be downloaded and read here:

CoDeL presents to the Cross-Party Group on Rural Policy at the Scottish Parliament

CoDeL was invited to present on the Uist experience to the Cross-Party Group at the end of October 2019.  This was an opportunity to present evidence rooted in island experience at the micro-level as a counterpoint to national projections, based on historic trends, which are particularly dire for the Western Isles. 

This reinforced the insights from the Islands Revival Declaration: ‘We affirm there is credible evidence of ‘green shoots’ of population turnaround in the Scottish Islands, which as yet does not show up in official statistics’ .

The full report can be downloaded and read here:

Additional information regarding the day, including the other participants, can be seen on the SRUC website.

Members of the SG Islands Team trying baking from The Scandinavian Bakery in the Isle of Grimsay, October 2019.

Community infrastructure in Inis Mór

No island hibernates in the winter. Seán Ó Flaithearta, Inis Mór, Ireland, talks about the work being carried out by the voluntary community committee in updating the islands infrastructure, such as the community centre and island roads. 

Coiste Forbartha Fhearann an Choirce is  busy trying to improve our community centre, a stone’s throw from the great Celtic fort Dún Aonghasa. After years of ball-playing, at our Centre, the slates  fly off with gales forcing us to take a look at replacing the old slates. With broken and ill-fitting windows our priority this year is to replace the single pane aluminium  windows installed in ’78.

Continue reading “Community infrastructure in Inis Mór”

Contributing to a solution: Housing in Uist

At the request of Cllr Iain MacNeil, a seminar on housing in Uist and Barra was held on the 14th of November 2019 in Lìonacleit, Benbecula, to re-energise the public sector-led approach and promote cooperation through a new policy framework for the area.

The Uist Collective: Uibhistich Òga, a group formed following CoDeL’s Young Leaders programme in 2019, was asked to set the scene for the day’s discussion. The group, which is exploring means by which they can positively influence several local issues including housing, is keen to resolve the shortage of suitable houses as this is one of the key stumbling blocks inhibiting many people from returning to the island. Continue reading “Contributing to a solution: Housing in Uist”

Grimsay Island Gathering shines a light on island renewal

Fifty Scottish and Irish islanders gathered last week in Grimsay, North Uist to focus in particular on the contributions of younger islanders in renewing island life and contributing to sustainable island communities.

For a whole morning (of Wednesday 2nd October), 10 enterprising young islanders, most in their 20s and 30s, told of the often remarkable personal journeys that brought them to Uist, whether returning to their island home from the mainland or as far afield as Kenya, or being inspired to make Uist their new home. And they introduced all the participants to their business in Uist as founders of start-up enterprises or social enterprises like the North Uist Distillery, the Scandinavian Bakery, Uist Forest Retreat and an outdoor nursery, developing community sports, reviving a community charity that almost went under, as a climate change artist, or as a young leader seeking to tackle the shortage of appropriate housing that is preventing more people returning or settling. Continue reading “Grimsay Island Gathering shines a light on island renewal”

The Islands Revival Declaration

The Declaration appeared this week, on the Islands Revival blog. The joint statement issued by research institutes, community groups and public sector organisations begins: “We affirm that there is credible evidence of ‘green shoots’ of population turnaround in the Scottish islands, which as yet does not show up in official statistics.

The population of West Harris has increased by 27% since 2012, that of Eigg by well over 50% since the buy-out in 1997. The population of Colonsay has been growing since 1991, while Westray in Orkney registered growth for the first time in 2011. Kerera has doubled its population in the last 8 years. Iona, Ulva Ferry on Mull have dramatically increased their primary school rolls, while primary school rolls in the Outer Hebrides have been maintained since 2011 suggesting that a key younger demographic group (parents with young children) is being sustained across this large island group.

Why is this happening? Read the Declaration for suggestions, and the blog posts for the detail. You can also look at the press release from the James Hutton Institute.

CoDeL is delighted to have been working with the James Hutton Institute, the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) and Community Land Scotland on this project, which first emerged from our research on young people returning, staying or settling on Uist. Turnaround is not just happening on Uist, but also on many islands both in Scotland and abroad.

Full programme for Island Gathering

Only a few weeks to go before the Island Gathering on Grimsay. It will bring together participants from islands across Scotland and Ireland. Have a look at the PROGRAMME here. If you are interested in participating in the event, please get in touch with Theona Morrison (theona@codel.scot).

With the focus of the Smart Islands project on YOUNGER PEOPLE who are returning, settling or staying on islands, we are particularly keen to involve younger participants (the Scottish definition of a young crofter, and the European definition of a young farmer is below 40).

For those coming from outside Uist there is some hostel accommodation available — please ask us for details.

Latest news and website from CoDeL

We launch CoDeL’s new website today. Thank you to Liam Crouse for revamping the website.

Our Islands Revival blog is coming to a close, and has brought together some great posts from islands across Scotland, as well as from Arranmore in Ireland, Prince Edward Island in Canada and from the Caribbean. The project’s concluding workshop will be held at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye at the end of August 2019. Continue reading “Latest news and website from CoDeL”

Launch of the Smart Islands project

We are excited to be launching the Smart Islands project with funding from Leader Action Groups in the Outer Hebrides and the four counties of Ireland with islands. Our first big event will be the gathering of island representatives from across Scotland and Ireland on Grimsay in Uist during the week September 30th to October 4th. In addition to sessions to share knowledge and experience on a wide range of island topics, the week will also include the AGM and annual gathering of the Scottish Islands Federation, and a video link to the presentation of the draft Islands Plan to the Scottish Parliament. Continue reading “Launch of the Smart Islands project”