Category Archives: COVID 19

All pulling together: Galson Estate community response

Communities everywhere are going above and beyond to help each other out and make things as good as they can be. Early March, before all this kicked off, feels like a lifetime ago but it really is amazing to see what local groups and volunteers have managed to achieve in such a short and challenging period of time.

At Galson Estate it began with some forms to ask for volunteers and find out who needed help and has grown into a team of volunteers, a WhatsApp group for every village, collection and delivery services and even a YouTube channel with an exercise class, bedtime stories and bookbug sessions. It’s just brilliant and you can read more of the detail below from Lisa of Galson Estate Trust:

We were really fortunate as I think we managed to mobilise the community pretty promptly. Over 2 weeks ago I heard the first minister on the radio on my way into work and she mentioned “WhatsApp Trees”, so basically groups for folk who live on the same street etc. I thought it might be good to do this for the estate for every village (taking account of those who don’t have WhatsApp by recording a phone number). The idea was to account for every single household in a bid to foster a way of allowing people to help each other, so a mutual support as opposed to setting up a helpline and then having to match volunteers or becoming so swamped we could help no one properly.

So far the groups are working really well. It’s been a mammoth task, but we are just about there, and we see neighbours offering to do shopping, take in bins and even just saying “morning, how are you all today”.

We set up a private Facebook group to support those collecting numbers and to establish a volunteer group and this is also working well and helps us react and respond quickly to any gaps that might appear in services and support in the area.

We redeployed a member of staff who was keen to have tasks to become a delivery driver. The local car hire company were offering vans free of charge, so we quickly got insurance in place and decided to offer to do collections from Stornoway, from the local crofting co-operative, Lewis Crofters. The co-operative could no longer offer deliveries as they needed all staff to enable them to operate safely by running a drive thru operation, with telephone orders, so we thought to save crofters from the estate all driving to Stornoway and to support those who couldn’t do that due to self-isolating or whatever the reason might be. We now run this three days per week and have three drop off areas (large car parks at community buildings) across the estate. This is hopefully a good support ahead of lambing season.

We are delivering prescriptions from two surgeries across the estate 5 days per week. Volunteer drivers are carrying this out on a rota basis, and this too is working well as people can’t get out to collect prescriptions.

We have also set aside time for analysis and review of the various schemes of support and are proactively supporting organisations on the estate to work through what might be available to them.
We have also put volunteer support into one local shop to support it to stay open as it was essential for items, such as fuel and gas.
We are offering Gaelic and English Bookbug sessions on our newly created YouTube channel three times per week and today we launched a Gentle Movement class online and this will run every Thursday.

Our next piece of work is around the community newspaper, which can no longer keep running, so we propose to work in partnership with volunteers to deliver a free community newsletter to ensure information and news is still reaching the community. We realise that not everyone is online and we have to try our best to keep people connected to someone else.

We will continue to assess the gaps and try to do what we can to ensure the community are supported and feel secure during what is such a difficult and perplexing time.

The estate is obviously community owned and what better way to celebrate land ownership that to ensure the benefits from the asset support the community during the good times and the bad.

From Fiji to Fair Isle: Islands around the World and Covid 19

Limited access to emergency medical care, supply chains dependent on transport links (and the weather!) and with many older people in our communities, it can be scary living on a remote island during a global pandemic and a real challenge to plan a local, regional and national response. It is however, amazing to see how everyone, at every level is pulling together.

With this in mind, to help those islands that are further behind on ‘the curve’ than we are as well as to help us plan ahead, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance and Island Innovation have teamed up to gather information on island responses from across the world.

You can read what has been collated so far here .  The survey questions are here and if you could spare the time to add  feedback from your own island that would be great.  You can email your response to Francesco.

CROC Talk – community response from Cumbrae

Here is another good example of the community response on the islands.

The Millport Support Group started off as a Facebook page to connect people but has grown into a collaboration with all the local agencies and groups including Cumbrae Forum, Cumbrae Community Council, the local churches and North Ayrshire Council.

The group liaises with Police, Pharmacy, and local NHS and Care Worker Teams to co-ordinate support and has a team of over 40 volunteers helping out with shopping, picking up prescriptions, dog-walking and much more.

CROC Talk has been a joint effort by the Group, Cumbrae Community Council, North Ayrshire Council and the Churches on the island. It has been really well thought out, containing such a lot of helpful information and has been delivered to every household on Cumbrae.  You can have a look at it here Croc Talk.

Community Support Hubs have also been set up across North Ayrshire and regular updates produced for each area – North Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership COVID 19 Update.

Islands Respond to Coronavirus

In such challenging and difficult times all communities are working hard to get plans and actions in place to make sure they are as well prepared as possible and that everyone is looked after.

Sharing ideas and information is one way we can help each other out and we have added some links to examples of island community responses to covid-19. We will keep adding to this and if you have links, templates, action plans etc that you could share please send us an email.

Isle20:  SIF is very pleased to be supporting this initiative set up by Rhoda from Tiree Tea. Many small businesses will struggle over the coming months and Isle20 is new directory of island businesses that can sell online. Its free to advertise – if you know of any producers or businesses that would like to be listed please ask them to go to www.isle20.com You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust: Eigg community response to covid 19

Tiree Development Trust: community information on covid 19

Isle of Lismore: community covid 19 response updates

Isle of Cumbrae: Croc Talk community information leaflet

All Pulling Together: Galson Estate community response

What challenges are you facing on your island?

Some of the challenges that we are seeing so far on the islands are around shopping supplies, the loss of the market for shellfish, loss of tourism and real concern about the number of campervans and second-home owners travelling to the islands.

We are working closely with the Scottish Government Islands Team to flag up island issues and if you have anything happening on your island that we can help to highlight please let us know.

Information & Resources

There are some quick links below and we will keep sharing information and ideas on Facebook and Twitter.

Government & Health Advice

Scottish Government Covid-19 Updates
NHS Inform
Guidance for non-health settings
Young People
Extremely Vulnerable Group – guidance on social shielding

Community Guidance & Resources

Third Sector Resilience Fund: this emergency fund for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations is now open for applications.
Ready Scotland Advice for Community Groups.
SCVO has set up an information hub for voluntary organisations.
Scottish Community Development Centre.
OSCR has produced some useful guidance and some FAQ such as ‘what if we have to cancel our AGM’.
Volunteer Scotland has produced guidance for volunteers as well as blog with some further links.
Argyll & Bute Help for Communities is a useful guide for community groups.
Voluntary Action Orkney Resources.
Highland Council Helpline & Support.
North Ayrshire Council & CPP Community Support Hubs.

Support for Business

Scottish Government Find Business Support.
Scottish Chamber of Commerce has created a support hub which provides quick links to support and guidance. Your local chamber will have guidance on financial support – here is a good example from Lochaber.
ACAS has information about protecting your employees and workplace here.
Federation of Small Business advice and guidance for small businesses and self-employed.
GrowBiz is increasing its support for rural enterprises by offering phone or online advice sessions, and a great range of online learning and networking opportunities.
Business Gateway has produced information including checking your insurance, continuity planning and a link to advice for employers and employees.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance is providing guidance and a daily update on its website.
Association of Convenience Stores has information and posters for retailers.
Support for Scottish fishing industry.