The goodwill flourishing in villages and districts around the Western Isles is beginning to be backed up by cash for practical projects.
Since lockdown began in March, communities have been banding together to make sure that people who are socially isolating, shielding or unwell can get the food, medicine and extra help they need.
Now community councils and village associations are getting back-up for their voluntary efforts, with recent news of cash grants coming through from the Scottish Government Supporting Communities Fund, administered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
One innovation being seen in the villages of the Broad Bay area is a clutch of yellow boxes housing new community larders, jointly planned by Ionad Loch a’ Tuath (ILT) and Back Community Council.
The two organisations heard at the beginning of May that they had been awarded a grant to run a telephone helpline and to stock the yellow larder boxes with basic foodstuffs and toiletries twice a week.
A community council spokesperson said: “This is a difficult time for everyone and many families are on reduced or no wages. The basic food and toiletries in this box are for anyone’s use. They are the Back community’s way of looking after each other.”
The district of Uig saw the first delivery of frozen meals cooked by volunteers yesterday (Saturday 9 May) after Uig Community Council’s Covid-19 response plan also got funding.
The £8,600 they were awarded helps Uig community shop with the additional cost of deliveries, as well as helping to fund the home-cooked frozen meals made by members of Uig Community Centre Association, a free fortnightly Uig News for the district and an art/activity pack for each child in the area.
As previously reported (https://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto-3/16919-grants-given-for-covid-19-projects), Galson Estate Trust and Carloway Estate Trust have also received a slice of the Supporting Communities Fund. Galson Estate Trust received £9,000 to help with the costs of setting up a network of volunteers from each of its 22 villages, while Carloway Estate Trust now has £10,700 to support its co-ordinating role with Breasclete Community Association, Breasclete Community Council, Carloway Community Association and Tolsta Chaolais Village Association.
Meanwhile Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) have set the closing date for Wednesday (13 May) as they recruit two drivers for their new pick-up and delivery service. They will offer residents pick-up and delivery of groceries, medicines, butcher supplies, fish, coal, logs and bottled gas, as well as emergency food and fuel parcels.
PST received £55,600 from the Scottish Government fund to meet employment costs and to support other work they have been doing pulling together volunteer information and contacting local residents.
Stornoway’s New Wine Church, which hosts Eilean Siar Foodbank, has been awarded £9,941 to help with the increased take-up and delivery costs for their essential food parcels, which have been on offer throughout the Coronavirus outbreak.
Other organisations have had help for their efforts from local sources, with the Salvation Army’s twice-weekly Coronavirus support drop-in finding a new home after an offer from Stornoway Golf Club.
The Salvation Army opens from 12-2pm every Wednesday and Saturday to offer toiletries, baby products and groceries to anyone who needs help. Lt Callum Newton of the Stornoway Corps has reported exceptionally high take-up of the offer of help from people in and around Stornoway.
He said: “With thanks to Stornoway Golf Club who have welcomed us to their clubhouse for our usual Wednesday and Saturday Coronavirus support. The change of venue allows us to increase and better the support we are able to provide. There will be much more fresh fruit and vegetables as well as other foods, toiletries and groceries. Come along and have a look to see if we're able to help reduce some of the extra costs that you might have come your way at this difficult time.”
The pictures show the community larders now in place around the Back area, frozen meals ready for delivery in Uig and, below, the new layout for Coronavirus support donations from the Salvation Army at Stornoway Golf Club.