Galson Estate is building on Covid-19 response

Galson Estate is to be part of an ‘Owning our Future’ project with Community Land Scotland.
Coastal paths on the community owned land of Galson Estate, which is participating in the ‘Owning our Future’.Coastal paths on the community owned land of Galson Estate, which is participating in the ‘Owning our Future’.
Coastal paths on the community owned land of Galson Estate, which is participating in the ‘Owning our Future’.

The National Lottery Community Fund has provided £48,000 to build on and amplify the creativity and compassion seen in communities and across civil society during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Owning our Future’ will support six communities in Scotland – including Galson Estate on Lewis – to take an in-depth look at why the community ownership model was so important to their response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to work with facilitators to explore a route out of the crisis, to look at how things are changing due to the pandemic, what is needed in this transition and what is possible in the future.

Lisa Maclean, chief executive of the Galson Estate Trust, said: “At the start of the pandemic, there was certainly a degree of fear.

A local volunteer delivers medicines to vulnerable people in lockdown.A local volunteer delivers medicines to vulnerable people in lockdown.
A local volunteer delivers medicines to vulnerable people in lockdown.

“Our demographic is mostly towards older people, and so, in the early phase of the pandemic, a large number of our residents were in shielding categories. Another big issue is isolation.

“The scale and speed of our community’s response was astonishing.

“The almost instant creation of a 40-strong team of volunteers helped to provide a prescription deliveries service and WhatsApp groups ensured access to food and medicine.

“We took over the community newspaper, when its staff were furloughed, just to ensure communication was still going out to residents because a lot of older people in the area are not online.”

The Lottery funding will enable the community owned projects to work with Community Land Scotland and listen and share different experiences, tell their stories and to imagine, together, what is possible in the future.

Linsay Chalmers, development manager with Community Land Scotland, said: “Over the past six months, we’ve seen how effective the community land model is during a crisis.

“Through this project, we will be able to dig a little deeper into the reasons behind that and explore any learning for wider society.”

Community Land Scotland is one of 51 organisations across the UK to receive a grant of up to £50,000 through the Emerging Futures Fund.

Cassie Robinson, senior head of UK funding at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has presented new challenges to communities across the UK and The National Lottery Community Fund has focused on getting much-needed emergency support out to communities and the sector.

“But it has also demonstrated the very best of civil society, which has met this huge challenge with creativity, commitment and a desire for change.

“We are now seeing new ways of doing things that we might not have thought of before.”

She added: “The activity conducted by these community groups and organisations will generate learning and insights, and create space and capacity in communities so that they are able to anticipate, imagine and shape the future.”