Point and Sandwick Trust, which runs the largest community wind farm in the UK at Beinn Ghrideag just outside Stornoway, gave £4,250 to Parkend, Holm and Mackenzie Estate Residents Association to support them in their wide range of community activities which include skip and clean-up days, bulb-planting sessions, bonfires, and fun days.
Around £3,500 of the grant allowed the residents association to buy a 20ft container which is now being kept at a nearby yard and means the association now have somewhere to store all their equipment and items, from buckets and spades for the clean ups to Christmas lights. The rest of the money will fund a festive dinner and outing for the older folk in the area.
Angus McCormack, honorary president of Point and Sandwick Trust, joined with Norman Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust chair, and Rhoda Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust board member, and representatives of the residents association to demonstrate that the community can count on the charity’s support.
Angus took the opportunity to reach out to the newly formed community councils in the charity’s immediate district (Point, Sandwick and Stornoway community councils) to invite them to get in touch with Point and Sandwick Trust and bear the charity in mind if they are seeking funding.
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He said: “I would always say to any new organisation that establishes itself in the community to approach Point and Sandwick Trust so that we know they exist and if at some point in the future they have a project that they think we might support, they should bring it forward.”
Angus stressed the important part such organisations have to play in the life of a community and pledged to support them in his role as an elected member of Comhairle nan Siar as well as the honorary president of Point and Sandwick Trust.
He said: “I am a passionate believer in community councils because everybody has to work together to make them work. Not only that, I’m very keen to support community representatives to get themselves together in smaller groups, like residents associations.
“Residents associations are very, very important. They are non-statutory but it’s involving people at a local level who are directly from their own community and have ideas.
“These ideas can be brought to a community council who bring them on because community councils are statutory organisations.
“If they take up ideas that have been brought to them by residents, that gives them much more clout when they take them forward.”
He added: “Although the council here is really quite good at listening to residents associations, it doesn’t have to. But it must listen to community councils and that is very important.”
He said: “Point and Sandwick Trust’s raison d’être was established by having consultative evenings and afternoons in our local communities in Sandwick and Point and it is from these consultations that we formed the basis of the kinds of support that we are now giving to our communities.
“It’s absolutely imperative to us to link in with our local groups because that’s who have the ideas which point us in the right direction of which projects we can support.
“They are driven by what the community wants and what we are seeking to do at Point and Sandwick Trust is have these direct links.
“We don’t want any barriers between us. We want people to feel they can come to us and say, ‘any chance you can help us with this project?’”
Donnie Smith, treasurer of Parkend, Holm and Mackenzie Estate Residents Association, said it was “absolutely fantastic” to get the support of Point and Sandwick Trust.
“It was good to apply for a grant for something and get 100 per cent of what we asked for.
“Not many other grants are like that – you’ve always got to put up something yourself. Usually you might get 75 per cent but here we got 100 per cent which is absolutely fantastic.”
Of the social event for the senior citizens, he said: “It’s good for the bodachs and cailleachs to mix and to get a square hot meal because some of them don’t bother if they are by themselves.”
He said that a positive feature of being involved with the residents association was that people were then able to raise any issues they had themselves about life in the community.
Donnie said: “If you join the likes of a residents association, your voice is heard and it’s good to get involved and get something done within the community. You feel you are doing your bit.”
Norman Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust chairman, said: “Point and Sandwick Trust are pleased to be in a position to provide financial support for this very worthwhile project.
“The founding principle of Point and Sandwick Trust is the promotion of community well-being in the Point and Sandwick area.
“Parkend and Holm Residents Association are a very active group and they bring the community together through organising social activities for all age groups and getting people involved in activities to improve the amenity of their area.
“We at Point and Sandwick Trust will always be supportive of projects such as this.”
Rhoda Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust board member, said it was a pleasure to help the residents association.
“They are quite a small group but a group that have been going for a long time and they are very dedicated.”
She said the container would be a real boon.
“They have been working hard with nothing for years but this means that they’ve got a base. In the past number of years they’ve been doing all these small things that have improved their environment and this will allow them to access more funding to buy useful items and have them stored.”
Rhoda added: “These smaller grants, although this one wasn’t particularly small, make much more of a difference sometimes than the bigger grants.
“It absolutely and totally encompasses the whole ethos of Point and Sandwick Trust which is helping the community, all the age groups, social inclusion and bringing the community together.”