Three community groups which help the elderly live more connected, fulfilling and happy lives have been given money by Point and Sandwick Trust, the charity behind the biggest community wind farm in the UK, located just outside Stornoway.
Point and Sandwick Trust, who make an annual profit of around £500,000 from their three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag, have committed to supporting six big projects throughout the Outer Hebrides, with sizeable cheques recently given to the likes of Bethesda Care Home and Hospice.
However, they have also vowed to do their bit for organisations at a more local level, and recently gave £500 to several community groups for the elderly.
The money, which will be given regularly, went to Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall, Sandwick Hall and Recreation Association and Tiumpan Young at Heart Club. It went towards the costs of Christmas parties and trips being planned to the mainland for 2017.
The first group was Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall, one of the biggest groups for the elderly on the Isle of Lewis. They had a Christmas party and are hoping to get to Crieff in June and take in the Royal Yacht and Parliament.
The group — attended by people from Bayble and Garrabost up to Branahuie — meet on the first Tuesday of the month at Ionad Stoodie, with those who have transport picking up those who don’t.
Cairdean chairman Bert Frater said their general aim was “just to get people out of their homes and in amongst people”.
“They enjoy it very much,” he said. “It’s important just to get people to mix. Everyone looks forward to it, even if it’s just to have a cup of tea.”
The Cairdean are thought to be one of the biggest senior citizens groups on the island, with about 40 people regularly turning up to meetings and a membership of more than 50. Bert said Point and Sandwick’s donation was “a great help”.
Christina Maciver, secretary of the Sandwick Hall and Recreation Association, said “thank you” to Point and Sandwick Trust for their £500, adding: “It was gratefully appreciated”.
It went towards the costs of the Christmas party. “They were over the moon because some of them don’t see each other from one end of the year to the next,” she said.
The £500 was another “great help” to Tiumpan Young at Heart Club. Ken Nicholson said: “We struggle for fundraising, so this has certainly added to our efforts. It means the older ones don’t have to go out so much to do bag packing and things like that. It really picked us up.”
Again, it helped with a Christmas party and will also go towards a trip later in the year — in Tiumpan’s case, a jaunt to Nairn.
Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween said they were “very pleased” to hand over the cheques, “fulfilling a long-standing commitment” to help these groups.
“These three community groups are important because they provide a social focus for people who may otherwise be isolated and lonely.
“We have an ageing population and often their needs are ignored. Getting out and meeting others — staying active and connected to your community — is important, not just for social reasons but for health reasons.
“Support for these types of organisations is a key component of our Business and Community Development Plan.”
The donations are much smaller than the £25,000 recently given to Bethesda – the first part of their £55,000 a year — but arguably no less important.
Donald John said: “We are probably unique as a community wind farm in that, from the very beginning, we took the view that the wider Western Isles community would also benefit.
“However, although we support these major projects, it is important to us not to lose sight of projects on our own doorstep, which provide that essential element of social cohesion we are in danger of losing.”
Calum Macdonald with Bert Frater