Island dream could become a reality

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THE community of South Uist, living at the sharp end of climate change, is hoping a new £300,000 funding pot for charities will help protect their way of life.

People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund will announce the winners of its first round of funding on January 31 – and an innovative proposal from South Uist is one of the six big ideas in the running.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We are delighted with the incredible response we’ve had to the Dream Fund.

“What with existing and impending cuts, the next two years will be a challenge for many community and charitable organisations. Tellingly, we received a phenomenal amount of interest, and had to whittle 98 applications to a shortlist of just six.

“It’s been a tough job but the shortlisted projects are all innovative, unique and far-reaching and we’re thrilled to be getting the chance to make dreams come true for three of them.”

The South Uist proposal has seen islanders team up with Oxfam Scotland to develop a new project aimed at helping their community combat the effects of flooding and coastal erosion brought on by rising sea levels. If successful, they will receive £100,000 to bring their idea to life.

In 2005, three generations of a single family in South Uist were killed when a freak storm washed them off the causeway. Almost every home on the island was damaged.

As climate change causes violent weather to become more frequent and less predictable, locals are preparing to make a stand.

If successful, the Climate Change Adaptation project will see volunteers build natural barriers from old fishing nets and lime grass to help protect the island from coastal erosion.

A Traditional Skills Academy will preserve traditional livelihoods like fishing and crofting while exploring new ways of making a living.

And schools and community groups will work together to produce a climate change adaptation tool kit for people across Scotland.

The pack, which will include a DVD in both English and Gaelic, will help raise awareness of the impact which climate change is having on communities in South Uist and what cations can be taken by people across Scotland to to lower their carbon footprint.

The Climate Change Adaptation proposal was one of over 90 applications vying for a share of the first round of Dream Fund cash, which calls for Scottish charities and community groups to work together to deliver ambitions new projects.

The six finalists were invited to pitch their plans to a panel of judges, including experts Louise Batchelor, former BBC Transport and Environment Correspondent; and Donald Anderson, Director of communications consultancy firm PPS Scotland.

People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund is funded by its players who have raised over £11million for charities and community initiatives across Britain.

The three Dream Fund winners will be announced at a Charity Gala at the National Galleries in Edinburgh on Monday, January 31.

Visit www.postcodetrust.org.uk to find out more.