Macaulay College expansion plans after £500,000 boost

Macaulay College was founded by Rebecca Lindsay and Roland EngebretsenMacaulay College was founded by Rebecca Lindsay and Roland Engebretsen
Macaulay College was founded by Rebecca Lindsay and Roland Engebretsen
Macaulay College, the award-winning community interest company which caters for people with additional needs on a farm just outside Stornoway, has received a major funding boost.

The College, which has won a national reputation for the service it provides, has been given a £500,000 grant from the UK Government’s Community Ownership Fund as well as almost £40,000 to employ a project manager.

Development worker Jo-Ann McConnachie said: “This amazing milestone takes us just over half way towards the full Building Project Cost. We now need to secure the remaining amount in the months ahead as the funding needs to be spent by April 2025 and the need for extension grows weekly with our waiting list”.

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Macaulay College director, Rebecca Lindsay, said: “This is a massive step forward and we are absolutely delighted. The intention is to replace the portakabins that provide our internal space and are well past their usable lifespan. This will double our capacity”.

They are now hoping for support from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and HIE with applications also going in to “innumerable Trusts” and other potential funding sources.

Referrals to Macaulay College come via the local authority which depends heavily on services the facility provides. Last year, the College won the Health and Social Care category in the Scottish Social Enterprise Awards.

The substantial grant from the UK Government followed a visit to Macaulay College by Scotland Office Minister, Malcolm Offord, and a meeting with Levelling Up and Communities Secretary, Michael Gove, last October.

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Clearly impressed by what he learned, Mr Gove told the Gazette this week: “I was on Lewis to chair the UK Government’s Islands Forum and met representatives from Macaulay College to hear about their work.

“I set up the forum to look for ways that we can help island communities across the UK. Whenever I visit the Western Isles, or other UK islands, I am always struck by the strong sense of community spirit and the desire to help others.

“I am therefore absolutely delighted that we have been able to provide Macaulay College with more than £500,000 in funding to help with their renovation. I hope this will be transformative for the college and for the many people they support each year”.

MacAulay College has been operating since 2010 and has expanded on a piecemeal basis in response to demand while still relying on basic infrastructure with which it started. The current project is the first opportunity to put the central core of the facility on a long-term footing.

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The College was founded by Rebecca Lindsay and Roland Engebretsen who had met at art college and shared an interest in working with people who have additional needs. When Roland inherited a share in Macaulay Farm from his grandfather, the opportunity was taken to turn it into such a centre.

It operates as a working farm with a wide range of animals and other activities. Produce is sold to supplement income which comes mainly from self-directed support payments and places bought directly by the local authority.