Galson Estate Trust boosts local groups to the tune of £300,000

Pictured are Agnes Rennie and Lisa Maclean (UOG) presenting a cheque for �10,000 to the C�mhla group.
Pictured are Agnes Rennie and Lisa Maclean (UOG) presenting a cheque for �10,000 to the C�mhla group.

A community landlord in the north of Lewis has reached a significant landmark having invested over £300,000 in various initiatives within the estate area.

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) was established in 2007 following a buyout of the land by local residents.

The estate runs to 56,000 acres, almost entirely under crofting tenure, encompassing 22 townships, from Upper Barvas to Port of Ness.

The Trust has set themselves five key priorities for sustainable development: poverty relief; training and education; housing; improved infrastructure and communication; and, protection and conservation of the environment.

A key part of their activities in achieving this re-vitalisation is through their community investment fund, financed by the profits of a three-turbine windfarm on the estate, and which provides crucial support to various community groups in the area.

The fund is divided into four main strands: support up to £1,000, £5,000 and £10,000, plus a growth fund for projects of scale.

In total, over 90 individual projects have now been supported bringing the total investment sum to in excess of £300,000.

They encompass a wide range of activities and groups, including training equipment for the local first responders, support for an Alzheimer’s dementia café, support towards installation of toilet facilities at the Eoropie Dunes playpark, Ness 5k/10k race, Sporsnis fitness outreach projects, scrap clear-up projects, cemetery improvements, and various local heritage initiatives, to name just a few.

A recent £10,000 award to a new group took the Urras over the £300k mark.

‘Còmhla’ has been set up by a group of local parents/carers with caring responsibilities for children with additional support needs.

The group have received funding and have already established group training activities and have a series of guest speakers attending their fortnightly meetings.

The group is chaired by parent Sarah Campbell, who commented: “The support received from the Urras will make a significant and positive difference to lives. We are grateful for the support and help provided by the Urras team to get things off the ground.”

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn Chair Agnes Rennie said: “The Community Investment Programme offers support to various groups and this most recent award is an excellent example of funding support, but also advice and guidance to establish a group to ensure there is support in an area where there is currently a significant gap.”

In recent months the Urras also provided, through its growth fund initiative, assistance of £80,000 towards the re-development of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, the local historical society.

The total building project was in excess of £1 million, involving several funding partners, with the Urras also providing crucial back-up support in terms of project management.

The refurbished facilities at the former Cross Primary School site now boasts a new frontage, extended café, additional exhibition space and archive.

If anyone would like to find out more about the newly established Còmhla Group please contact Sarah Campbell. Email: sarah.campbell@cne-siar.gov.uk or Tel:07825024949.