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Caroline Willis, Outreach Officer, at Our Climate Story drop-in session

The Outer Hebrides Climate Hub has secured £123,900 from a Scottish Government funding pot to help reduce emissions and improve climate change resilience.

A total of £5.5 million has been earmarked for Scotland’s 20-strong network of community climate action hubs, which encourage and support local climate action.

Confirming the funding during a visit to Aberdeen, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy Màiri McAllan said: “Tackling climate change is our collective responsibility and will require collaborative action at all levels. We must also share in the benefits that our net zero journey will bring. 

“Communities are uniquely placed to play a critical role in shaping and driving forward the transition to low carbon and climate resilient living, and we want to empower people to take action in their neighbourhoods that’s right for them.”

Last year, the Outer Hebrides Climate Hub held the world’s first Gaelic climate action convention. Since then, its membership has grown to 85-strong, comprising local community groups and individuals committed to supporting climate action in the islands.

It has numerous events lined up for the summer months, including 25 ‘Bitesize’ climate awareness sessions, working with the Our Climate Story project, a major citizens science climate map for the islands. 

It is also developing an islands-wide network to link communities to discuss, plan, monitor and deliver climate change action. 

Climate Hebrides began the work of the hub with the Ionad Gnàth-shìde Innse Gall: Gnàth-shìde & Gàidhlig (Outer Hebrides Climate Hub: Gaelic Climate Convention) in November last year.

Since opening membership at the event, 85 groups and individuals have joined, all committed to supporting climate action in our communities across the islands. 

Work is now ongoing for launching the first full hub year, with recruitment for a membership officer in train, and a host of major events planned for the months ahead.

The hub is financing 25 'Bitesize' climate awareness sessions, working with the Our Climate Story project, a major citizens science climate map for the islands. The hub is also working with members and the climate change group of the community planning partnership to deliver OH-COP1, linking communities across the islands live, to discuss, plan, monitor and deliver action. 

Brian Whittington, of Climate Hebrides said: "Our hub membership has businesses, community and arts-based groups, individuals, schools and statutory partners, all looking at ways to support climate action.

"Last hub year we funded £20,000 of local climate action. I encourage people to join the hub at www.climatehebrides.com and get involved in our wider work. We also offer the chance to register on the climate map www.outerhebrides.communitymaps.org.uk any evidence you have seen of climate change, or where you think something should be adapted to remain fit for purpose in the coming years."

Members can offer to host a 'Bitesize' can invite people along to awareness session at their venue, business, or church, for which a payment will be made of £200 to cover costs and refreshments. 

This morning (Wednesday May 22) SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government that the Outer Hebrides Climate Hub will receive £123,900 in funding for 2024/25. “It is very welcome news that the Outer Hebrides Climate Hub will be supported by £123,900 in funding for the coming financial year.

“It is our collective responsibility to tackle the climate emergency and the network of climate hubs across Scotland empowers communities to engage and get involved in local initiatives. The Outer Hebrides Climate Hub, for example, plays a key role locally in providing resources, seed funding, training and collaborative opportunities, with a focus on mitigating and adapting to the potential effects of climate change across our islands.

“The Western Isles have some of the highest levels of fuel poverty in Western Europe. This should never be the case in a region so rich in renewable resources. Furthermore, many of our communities are in real danger due to the impact of climate change long-term, particularly with regards to rising sea levels.

“That is why I am pleased to see the Scottish Government continuing to resource communities in the fight against climate change, allowing decisions to be taken at a local level on how best to prioritise this funding.”

(Additional information has been added to this article since it was first published.)