Category Archives: Uncategorised

The Islands Green Recovery Programme

Through its newly launched Islands Green Recovery Programme, the Scottish Government will invest £2 million in locally-led green projects to support economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Split across four strands and delivered by four partners, the programme will support island communities and businesses to take forward a range of capital projects.

Further details here and more to follow soon.

The Icing on the Cake for Castlebay Christmas Tree

Castlebay Christmas Tree was enjoyed by many on Barra and beyond when it was erected in December 2019 and throughout the festive season.

We are now delighted and honoured to announce that we have been shortlisted for an Epic Award (Scotland) 2020 and the People’s Choice Epic Award.  The Epic Awards are the premier awards for voluntary arts and creative groups across the UK and Republic of Ireland, with 29 groups shortlisted in total.  A winner and runner-up for Scotland will be chosen from seven Scottish groups shortlisted for this year’s Epic Award.

The Tree had been months in the planning.  People had been busy crocheting and knitting squares on the islands and across the globe to be a part of our Christmas decoration.  Crochet classes were organised.  Much thought also had to go to the structure of the tree, it needed to be well anchored and to withstand our winter winds.  We thank every single volunteer who played their part to make it happen.

Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery was also instrumental in making this project happen by providing the funding for the structure and the lights.  Janet Paterson of the Lottery Team said ” we were very impressed with this initiative which fully met the objectives of the Lottery. We therefore had no hesitation in approving the application for funding. The uniqueness of the project and how it inspired people from all over the world to join in was outstanding.

Full funding has now been made available for the construction of this year’s second tree and we can’t wait to see the result”.

The other Scottish Projects are

  • BeeKind – A community drama show in Aberdeenshire that took inspiration from the collaboration and teamwork of bees.
  • Bridgend Eco-Bothy – A group of volunteers in Edinburgh who transformed a disused building into a hub for community and creative activity.
  • Campsie Fest – A twice-yearly festival in East Dunbartonshire that keeps the village hall open with its fundraising.
  • Comrie Cinema Club – A volunteer-led events club in Perthshire that stopped locals having to travel a 52-mile round-trip to visit the cinema.
  • The Spit it Out Project – A group of young artists in Edinburgh who use visual and performance art to heal trauma and promote sex positivity.
  • Stirling Photography Festival – A volunteer-run festival that celebrates local and international photography, working with partners throughout Stirling.

 Jemma Neville, Director of Voluntary Arts Scotland said: “We are always so impressed by the range of projects that enter our annual Epic Awards, and this year is no different. The groups on our 2020 shortlist not only make a huge difference in their own communities, but are shining examples of what can be achieved when volunteer effort and creativity come together. Picking a winner and runner-up will be no easy task for our judging panel, but we hope members of the public will join us in this endeavour by voting in the People’s Choice Award.

Sarah MacLean, one of the Christmas Tree Team, said “we are extremely honoured to be included in this shortlist with these other fantastic projects and we were all delighted with how well the Christmas Tree was received.  We are already planning tree two and look forward to again adding some sparkle to Castlebay this Christmas.  We are extremely grateful to Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery for supporting us.”

Members of the public now asked to vote for their favourite in the ‘People’s Choice Award’ Place your vote here:  Voting closes on 20th September.

Since last Christmas, the Christmas Tree Team have planned another tree.  Through the COVID pandemic, they have also been busy developing and delivering online crochet classes through lockdown and beyond, not only on Barra but to people throughout the UK.  Sarah MacLean added “The online crochet classes have been super, giving people a chance for a chat and to meet new people while also learning a skill.  We have had many squares already arrive from different countries to be part of this years tree.  Making a square/s is a small positive project people can do at this time.”

If you want to get involved in Castlebay Christmas Tree you can make a square/s (12cm x 12cm) and send it to us.  You can contact us through FB and Twitter @BarraBunting.



Castlebay Christmas Tree is a project managed by Beairteas Bharraigh Ltd.

Beairteas Bharraigh translates as the Wealth of Barra.  Beairteas focuses on increasing island sustainability, promoting local skills, developing local produce and reducing waste.


10,000 islanders making global connections through the Virtual Island Summit 2020

The Virtual Island Summit is back!  Over one very exciting week, Scotland’s island communities will have the chance to link up with islanders from around the world, learn of new innovations and talk about the burning issues and ideas important to the islands.

From Scotland, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse, Angus MacNeil MP, Mark Hull of Community Energy Scotland and Francesco Sindico of Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance are amongst the speakers.

Scotland’s Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said:

“This event provides the opportunity to make connections and share learning with people from some of the world’s most unique locations. I will be discussing the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 which is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that helps to meet the needs of Scotland’s islands now and in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every country across the world and there have been particular challenges that have been exclusively faced by islands. We have the chance to share how we have responded and adapted to the changing circumstances, noting new vulnerabilities in addition to some new found strengths.”

Taking place over 7-13th September, its set to be a thought-provoking and inspiring week with a fantastic line up of speakers and topics for discussion. Its free, open to everyone and you can book your place here.

The Summit has been developed by Island Innovation and its founder James Ellsmoor (an alumni of the University of Highlands and Islands) explains, “Islands often face similar challenges to one another but are forced to tackle them separately due to barriers created by distance, language, and culture. The Virtual Island Summit seeks to build digital bridges between island communities around the world, regardless of size, political status, or location.  In the face of emerging worldwide crises such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the spirit of international problem-solving fostered by the Virtual Island Summit is more critical than ever.”

This year the Island Innovation team has been joined by over 150 volunteer ambassadors to build in even more networking and to bring a local dimension to the global event.  Scotland has four ambassadors, each aiming to make new island connections and gather good ideas.

Donnie Steele, Director of Storas Uibhist and Uist Gifts & Information says:  “I have been involved with Island Innovations for over a year now. It’s all about collaboration that brings people and Islands closer together. One of the best things about working collaboratively is people bringing different skill sets and backgrounds to the table and learning from their experiences. For me is about getting innovative sustainable development ideas that I can take to our community, anything that can help Island communities throughout Scotland and helping Islands globally by offering support and ideas that we have”.

Thibault Gras is a renewable energy graduate based in Orkney, “The Summit is a one of a kind opportunity to gather everyone. The more I look into it, the more I realise how poorly islands are represented in academia, the economy and policies. Because we are all islands, we are in a way very close, and the summit breaks that historical barrier. I am excited to see how we can make islands more represented by showing a united front. Scottish Isles are no Carribean State, nor the Philippines, but we have a lot more in common than just being surrounded by water.”

Kirsty MacColl is the Development Officer for the Scottish Islands Federation “ I’m really looking forward to the summit and in particular to the topics around electric ferries, island data, marine litter, next generation of island leaders, democracy and island responses to covid-19. We all have such a lot in common from energy transition, transport, broadband, enterprise, to solutions around health and social care and sustainable tourism. Having this virtual platform is so exciting: all of a sudden, it is opening the door to learning from each other, and it doesn’t matter if we are on remote islands at opposite ends of the globe.

Sharing ideas, highlighting challenges and promoting sustainability are all very much part of what we do at SIF and it’s really great to be part of the ambassador group, especially as our regional ambassador group includes the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. We hope to keep this going beyond the summit and continue learning from each other and sharing all the good things happening on islands.”

Island Innovation brings together the private sector, government, utilities, NGOs and universities to advance innovation for sustainability and prosperity in islands worldwide. For more information, visit the Island Innovation website.


Blue Social Growth: free online Business Training for island entrepreneurs!

Blue Social Growth: free business online training for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs on Scottish islands

You have an enterprising  idea?  You live on an island ? You have come to live in Scotland from another country? 

The EU funded ERASMUS + Blue Social Growth programme can help  turn your ideas into a viable business!

                        HELMI’S award winning patisserie on Bute

The programme  is available for free on line through the teachable platform in several languages,  English , Spanish, Farsi and Arabic.

This is because it is brings together participants from 4 countries: Scotland, Greece, Italy and Spain,  where the Blue Economy can provide new opportunities for enterprise, especially for people who have come from another country.
Its modular set-up allows you to choose what you want to work on, start where you need,  and progress  with exercises, videos  and bite-size learning to make your dream a reality with a comprehensive business plan you can talk through with  any funder.
  • All you need is access to a computer or a smart phone
  • It takes an average of 6 months to complete at your own pace
  • There is a downloadable pdf manual that can be used for reference along side the modules
  • Mentoring help from the course’ s authors is available to accompany you through your learning journey
  • You get an end of course certificate

The modules

  • Module 1 : Blue Social Growth opportunities
      • 1. The Blue Economy
      • 2. Blue Growth
      • 3. Blue Social Growth
      • 4. Explore Blue Social Growth potential where you are
      • Quiz: test your knowledge and understanding
  • Module 2 : Start your Blue Social Growth Enterprise
      • Part 1. Your business ideas
      • Part 2: The Business Plan
      • Part 3: Marketing
      • Part 4: Business finance
      • Quiz: test your knowledge and understanding
  • Module 3: Social innovation and collaborative leadership
      • Part 1. Social Innovation and the Social Entrepreneur
      • Part 2. Together you can go further – mobilising for change
      • Part 3. The Social Enterprise of the future: relational and engaging
      • Quiz: test your understanding and knowledge
  • Module 4: Partnering with style
      •  Part 1: Networking
      •  Part 2: Online cooperation
      •  Part 3: Partnerships
      •  Part 4: Storytelling: engaging with partners and client
      •  Conclusion: the Business Model Canvas
      • Quiz: test your understanding
NB: The course and  especially the manual  is also aimed to help  enterprise  and social enterprise trainers, particularly in a migrant or refugee set-up.

See the courses here:

How to get on the course:

Please fill this online form first,  to enable mentoring support if requested and  issue your end of course certificate, then click here to enrol.


Watch the webinar: Empowering Islands to achieve their energy and climate targets: Scotland and Ireland

‘Empowering Islands to achieve their energy and climate targets’: Scotland and Ireland

As part of  a Covenant of Mayors series of events on Climate Adaptation  – from SEAPs to SECAPs –  this June,  SIF  was delighted to be invited by DAFNI – the network of Greek sustainable islands – – to work with ESIN, the European Small Islands Federation to organise a webinar that would focus on Ireland and Scotland.

The road to becoming a fossil fuel free and climate ready island is not always smooth and easy and there are many obstacles in the way, particularly when island communities are directly involved in setting up renewable energy systems as in Scotland and now Ireland.

The webinar presents successful climate and energy solutions and methodologies in the Scottish and Irish islands, starting with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – the Western Isles Council, one of the earliest Pact of Islands signatories and continuing with approaches pioneered in Ireland and Orkney.

Presentation of community projects on islands such as the Aran islands  in Ireland, Eday in Orkney and Uist in the Hebrides enabled lessons learnt to be shared.

The important of place based strategy to leverage investment is summed up by the convener of the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Roundtable  and the webinar concludes with a presentation by NESOI – the European  Islands Facility – on how their approach will support the islands on the road to a Net Zero future.

You can watch the webinar on ESIN’s YouTube channel here.

You can  access the presentations from Youtube (links under the video) or from here:


Community Action Response call as coronavirus cases rise

Community Action Response call as coronavirus cases rise


Scots are being asked to ensure links within their community are strengthened as the prospect of mass social isolation grows

12th March 2020 by Gareth Jones of Third Force News  

Communities have been urged to work together as coronavirus cases across the country rise.

In the wake of the £30 billion emergency fund announced in the budget yesterday and anticipated switch to the delay phase of the government four-part plan, leaders from different sectors have today joined forces to launch the Community Action Response to encourage everyone to do what they can to support their communities and particularly vulnerable and isolated people during Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Launched by Eden Project Communities with partners the National Lottery Community Fund, Nextdoor, Neighbourhood Watch, Campaign to End Loneliness, SCVO and Voluntary Health Scotland, the Community Action Response has been created because of the unprecedented challenge that Coronavirus presents for people in every neighbourhood in the UK.

Eden Project Communities is a UK wide network that has grown out of community building campaign The Big Lunch, which reaches over six million people in communities every year.  The organisations are calling for everyone to take steps that will help communities cope when the worst impacts of the virus hit.

Community action response – five things you can do

1.  Think of others, consider your actions and be kind. People in every community will face the challenges of Covid-19 in some way – from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell.

2. Connect and reach out to your neighbours: as self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.

3.  Make the most of local online groups: Keep up to date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations using platforms like Nextdoor.

4.  Support vulnerable or isolated people: different groups in our communities are at increased risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to foodbanks to help.

5.  Share accurate information and advice: Support anyone who may be anxious about Covid-19. Sign post them to the correct advice from NHS Inform Scotland and to encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.

Research from The Big Lunch shows nearly a fifth of us in the UK have no-one in our neighbourhoods outside our immediate family we could call on if we needed help or support. With the rapid spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) increasingly likely, this is a real risk and combined with the need to self-isolate this gap in our community connections needs to be closed. The research also reported that more than 36 million people feel distant or very distant from their neighbours, yet three quarters of us believe it would be better for our communities if we were closer to them. The Big Lunch commissioned independent research published in their Closing the Distance report to explore how connected our people in communities in the UK feel to one another.

Bringing people together to advocate for community action, Peter Stewart, executive director of the Eden Project, said: “Through our work with communities UK wide we see the difference that people working together can have. Neighbourly support can make a huge difference in a world fraught with challenge. The current threat is set to impact all of us in one form or another, and stronger local connections within communities are vital to see this crisis out. That’s why we’ve joined forces with our friends and partners to call on people everywhere to take positive action to support and care for each other in the coming weeks and months.”

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we know community life and connections can help to build bonds of support during difficult times. Being kind, offering support and thinking of one another makes neighbourhoods and communities stronger together. This is particularly important for those who are more vulnerable and isolated. At The National Lottery Community Fund we support communities to thrive, this is why we’re pledging our support for this call to action in the coming weeks and months.”

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “We are urging our members and the wider voluntary sector in Scotland to take care of the health of their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. We encourage organisations to follow official advice. The official guidance will change over time so the key is to stay up-to-date with that whilst also reviewing the specific risks that COVID-19 poses to your organisation or service. Understanding the potential risks and impacts in your own particular context is the best way to start planning to mitigate them.

SCVO has published information on our website with details how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, how to support staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and service users, and information on how to keep services running. There are also signposts to official channels such as the NHS Inform and Scottish Government websites for the most up to date information available.”

Kiren Zubairi, policy engagement officer at Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS), said: “VHS would like to lend its support to the Eden Project’s Community Action Response. This provides communities and individuals with a set of very practical and effective actions that can allow us to play our part in ensuring we can all stay healthy. VHS especially appreciate the focus on new ways of staying connected and supporting one another as self-isolation increases. We all know the negative impact that loneliness and social isolation can have for individuals and communities. Therefore, it is really important to volunteer where appropriate or simply pick up the phone, use social media or email to stay connected and support all those within our communities and networks.”

Ian Bretman, Neighbourhood Watch chair, said: “At this stressful time it is more important than ever that we come together to support our loved ones and communities, especially the isolated and vulnerable. We all perform different roles in our daily lives but we are also all neighbours and all have the ability to be a good neighbour at this crucial time.”

Eden Project Communities is mobilising its grassroots community-based network and launching #CommunityResponse on social media to help share the actions. They also intend to further support communities in the coming days, weeks and months as needs become clear.

The Scottish Islands Federation is looking at good examples of island community resilience that we can share on this website and also on #CommunityResponse!


Lismore Stores and Post Office

LISMORE STORES and POST OFFICE, on the delightful Inner Hebridean Island of Lismore, Argyll, needs a new proprietor! Offering a completely different kind of retail experience, this opportunity would be ideal for an energetic couple seeking a rural lifestyle, fully integrated into the island community. Situated near the centre of the island, the Stores is the only Shop, Post Office and off License on the Island. It acts as a Community Hub. With a wide range of stock, built up over many years of local trading, the Stores offers potential for new ideas and adjustments to suit changing conditions.

Full details here: LISMORE STORES (5)

Scottish Government Local Energy Policy Statement: Consultation Events

The Scottish Government’s Local Energy Policy Statement consultation is now live and you can read more about it here.

As part of the process, a series of workshops are being held across Scotland to get the views of a wide-variety of stakeholders.

This inlcudes an Island Webinar Workshop on the 19th November from 1pm-2pm.  Register here.

Other events inlcude:
19 November, 11am – 12:30pm, Inverness.  Register here.

27 November, 11am – 1pm, Dumfries. Register here.

2019 S.I.F Learning Exchange & AGM on Grimsay

1 to 4 October, Grimsay

This year our learning exchange is to Grimsay and we are delighted to be working in partnership with and hosted by CoDeL (Community Development Lense) and Grimsay Community Association.

Population decline and in particular, young people moving away, is as an enormous challenge for many small islands but while in Tiree for our 2018 learning exchange we heard about the young returners to Uist from Thomas and Theona of CoDeL. Over our two days in Grimsay we will learn more about the experience from Uist (and further afield) and its working examples of community-led activity that is contributing to population growth and in particular, investing in and supporting young people.

With the first National Islands Plan soon to be launched we will discuss its implementation and monitoring as well as some policy areas where input is needed to ensure island proofing.

Our S.I.F AGM and EGM and a short wrap up session to agree priorities for the year ahead are planned for 5.30pm on Thursday 3rd October at Grimsay Community Centre.

The learning exchange is running in conjunction with CoDeL’s SMART Islands in Scotland & Ireland: Supporting Enterprises & Young People Project and we very much look forward to sharing island perspectives and ideas with participants from the Irish islands.

We are enormously grateful to the Community Learning Exchange, Scottish Government and LEADER for the contributions that have made the learning exchange possible and enabled members to take part.

Smart Islands and S.I.F full programme

S.I.F Day 1

S.I.F Day 2