The first of a series of major community projects have been completed recently in South Uist and Barra.
In 2013 Comhairle nan Eilean Siar applied successfully to the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) for grant support and matched this from its own Community Capital Grant Fund (CCGF) resources.
This Programme of works were Cothrom Re-Store in South Uist, Vatersay Community Hub, Castlebay Business Units and Eriskay Shop.
Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said:
“The suite of community economic development projects delivered through Round 1 of the RCGF will provide benefits on many levels in the communities of South Uist and Barra. Jobs will be created from the income generated and the circular economy operating as a result will lead to less waste.
“The Comhairle’s Regeneration team supported local communities directly to deliver these projects and officers were instrumental in sourcing the funding and providing project-management expertise to ensure that these proposals succeeded.”
In Ormiclate in South Uist, Cothrom Ltd has set up Cothrom Re-Store - a Social Enterprise and Vocational Training project.
It seeks to create an economically sustainable social enterprise through the construction of a purpose-built recycling and training centre.
Spin-off benefits will contribute to local economic growth directly, through the creation of jobs and indirectly through the employability of its learners.
Manufacturing in Re-Store will contribute to improve environmental sustainability through services to the community which encourage recycling, divert waste from landfill and provide good quality low-cost household goods.
Barbara MacDonald, manager of Cothrom Ltd was enthusiastic about the opportunities that the facility will bring: “We expect to double learner numbers in the first year in the new building because of the extra space and additional staff we will be hiring.”
In Eriskay, the Co-Chomunn have upgraded the local community shop substantially - with a bright and welcoming area for visitors together with an expanded range of goods for locals and visitors to enjoy. Catriona Walker, Co-Chomunn shop manager said: “Thanks to the completion of our extension, visitors to Eriskay are finding a much expanded display of gifts, crafts and local products in the Eriskay Shop. Customers can now browse through extensive displays while enjoying a sea view and they are also able to buy a coffee”.
Vatersay Community Association have completely refurbished their Community Centre to provide welcoming visitor facilities, a café, washing facilities room, an extended community meeting / performance-space and commercial kitchen facilities for larger community events.
In Castlebay, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has built two business units to accommodate demand for business space in Barra. The Comhairle is now advertising for potential tenants for the new facilities.
The Scottish Government’s Social Justice and Regeneration Division are the administrators of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and RCGF has been developed in partnership with COSLA and local authorities.
It has an annual budget of £25m across Scotland to provide financial support to projects that will help to deliver large-scale improvements to deprived areas.