The groundbreaking island enterprise Isle20 turns one today and with its first birthday celebrates a host of inspiring successes.
From providing a platform for offer 500 businesses suffering the effects of Covid19 and reduced visitors to the Scottish islands to hiring their first employee, the Tiree based shopping site has offered a remarkable insight into the power of island innovation. We look forward to seeing what the next year of Isle20 and parent enterprise IsleDevelop have up their sleeves.
Shetland.org’s recently published list of 21 Great Reasons To Move To Shetland highlights an inspiring array of things that make Shetland’s islands an attractive place to move or return to, especially for young and economically active individuals and families.
The list spans the cultural, social, economic and environmental reasons that living in Shetland in particular is such an appealing prospect, but many of the reasons are applicable across Scotland’s Highland and Islands’ rural communities….
‘The island is home to thriving fishing, aquaculture, renewable energy and marine engineering industries, as well as a strong public sector, with jobs regularly available in areas like local government and health. Fast WiFi, quality infrastructure and the availability of funding also makes this a better place than many to start a new business’
‘It’s more connected than you think. Regular flights from Sumburgh mean that you can be in Edinburgh or Glasgow for a business meeting within a few hours of leaving home’
‘Commutes feature show-stopping scenery, and more wildlife than cars. Many Shetlanders report that their drive to work is actually a pleasure’
‘With more space, an ancient crofting culture and new investment in renewable energy, it’s also possible to lead a more sustainable existence on the islands.’
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
Support to identify employment opportunities for young people (funding support for young people into work is currently more flexible) (contact email@example.com)
An open space group to share and explore mental health issues, which will meet once a fortnight over zoom (contact Rona at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com )
A hope wall in the supermarkets and on facebook for people to put up their hopes, pictures, poems, etc. (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.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.