Rural Housing Summit

Rural Housing Scotland’s 2021 Rural Housing Summit is well underway online, sharing stories from rural communities working to tackle housing need in their area through a mix of panel discussions, interactive workshops, webinars and one-to-one sessions with various experts in the field. 

Upcoming sessions include funding routes for community-led housing, the quiet rise of rural homelessness and building cultural and economic capacity.

Thursday’s key note speaker Dr Annie McKee of The James Hutton Institute and Rural Housing Scotland Convenor, provides the opportunity to look at the impact of land reform in Scotland and the challenges communities still face.

On Friday, delegates will hear from Scottish Rural Housing’s Derek Logie about the key role rural housing enablers play in efforts to tackle housing need and about plans SRH are developing to combine traditional models and modern technology to repopulate rural areas.  Further sessions on Friday will look at rural re-population, rethinking rural and building cultural and economic capacity and speakers on the Rethinking Rural panel discussion will include North Uist architect – Alex Durie. One-to-one appointments with a Rural Housing Enabler will also be available on Friday afternoon. 

The complete programme for the week can be found here and bookings are still open for sessions from Thursday afternoon onward. 

Island resilience in practice

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 kirsty.maccormick@cothrom.net)
  • An open space group to share and explore mental health issues, which will meet once a fortnight over zoom (contact Rona at sineag1@yahoo.co.uk and/or thomas.fisher@mailbox.org )
  • A hope wall in the supermarkets and on facebook for people to put up their hopes, pictures, poems, etc. (contact tracy@tagsauibhist.co.uk)
  • 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 theonasandbank@gmail.com and/or thomas.fisher@mailbox.org)

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.

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”