Projects that tackle isolation, put generations in touch with each other and show the value of memories are to be run by Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) with money from the European Social Fund.

The sum of £41,860 was announced on Friday (February 15th) as a grant to CEN from the Aspiring Communities Fund, which has aims including to support inclusion and improve people's lives through heritage and local history activities.

Donna Dorris has been appointed community engagement officer and plans projects which will combine the memories and experiences of people throughout the Ness district, with the collections housed at CEN’s centre at the former Cross school – currently undergoing a huge rebuild.

Donna told “My role is to engage more people with the Comunn Eachdraidh and that will come through bringing more people in to join the senior citizens’ group on Thursday mornings, starting a men’s shed for men who live alone and engaging teenagers and young people in new projects.”

The men’s shed is planned for the former canteen and croileagan building – currently being used as a temporary café while the building work is under way. It’ll be turned into a workshop where men will be encouraged to get involved in conservation work and small repairs as the historical collections are re-displayed. They’ll get the chance to travel into Stornoway for hands-on sessions, learning about conservation skills at Museum nan Eilean.

Donna said: “These projects are two-way – they tackle social isolation and loneliness but they also get work done that needs doing and provide us with valuable insights into what should be displayed to show important aspects of life in North Lewis. People’s memories might be triggered by the objects and help us interpret and label them as we re-display the collection.”

The younger generation were asked what they would like to see in the building during a community consultation, and study support was one idea that came from that. Several of the board members are ex-teachers and could help with study and homework sessions, but an after-school club and youth café could also offer a gaming zone, or the chance to engage with older people as part of inter-generational project work.

Picture shows men gathered for a Fank in Galson in days gone by.

Passing on memories about events like this will be an important part of the project work planned at Commun Eachdraidh Nis.