Funding boost for Uist Wool

A £5,000 funding package awarded to Uist Wool is set to see the North Uist business confidently enter the digital world as it moves towards plans to construct a new Mill in Grimsay.

The financial boost came from an £85,000 investment of National Lottery funds made available through AmbITions Scotland’s new Make:IT:Happen fund, part of Creative Scotland’s national digital development programme.

Hannah Rudman, Lead Consultant AmbITion Scotland, said: “The Make:IT:Happen fund has evolved out of the work that AmbITion Scotland has undertaken since its inception in 2009.
“During that time, the programme has enabled many organisations, large and small, digitally sophisticated as well as digital newcomers, to develop their businesses for increased sustainability through opportunities offered by digital technologies.”

Uist Wool were successful in their application to the AmbITion Approach funding category which supports organisations during the early stages of their digital development.

Dana MacPhee of Uist Wool said: “We’re very happy to be awarded this funding as it can help us create a practical plan for digital development at Uist Wool from the start, rather than trying to do it retrospectively.
“We’re very aware of the reach and influence of social and digital media in the cultural sector and as a business based in the Outer Hebrides it’s very important for Uist Wool to harness this medium to our advantage.”

As well as the £5,000 funding, the AmbITion Approach award also includes the provision of an external specialist to help businesses assess and develop a wide ranging strategy for organisational change.

And Uist Wool is looking forward to the developments ahead, as Ms MacPhee continued: “Currently, Uist Wool has no digital infrastructure and to this point has relied on volunteers using their personal equipment and home broadband connections to do business.

“Clearly this situation cannot continue and there is a pressing need to identify the correct equipment to support operational development within the new office base for Uist Wool adjacent to the Mill site on Grimsay.

“Creating a workable digital development plan now will allow Uist Wool to fully embed technology within the start-up phase of the business – rather than trying to do it retrospectively when staff and volunteers have evolved bad practice or an ad-hoc application of digital interventions.”

She added: “Over the next few weeks we’ll be spending time working with our recommended consultant on devising a sensible and practical strategy for IT use within the day-to-day running of Uist Wool.

“Uist Wool needs to identify the right infrastructure and digital technologies that are best suited for the broad range of our activities – mill production, product development; retailing; public engagement; interpretation and education; liaison with our Membership and other communities of interest; creative practice and residencies, and the promotion of Uist Wool beyond our immediate locality.”

The digital funding package comes at the right time as Uist Wool get set to start work on the businesses new Mill on Grimsay in the immediate future.

Local building firm JJ Macdonald Contractors, South Uist, have been appointed to undertake the Mill’s construction and it is hoped to be ready to receive a spinning machine in early 2013.