Two part-time local development officers have been employed to help a west coast community create an economic, social, and cultural plan for their future growth. The Ullapool Community Trust has recruited Ewan Young and Viv Halcrow through an initiative being run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
HIE is supporting up to 40 communities in the most fragile areas of the Highlands and Islands by funding key posts to work locally with a range of community groups. Ullapool Community Trust covers the Lochbroom Community Council area which has a population of around 1,600.
Ewan has been recruited as Community Development Officer - Sustainability. He will review the feasibility of current projects, investigate new projects and source funding, all of which will contribute to the sustainability of community organisations in the area.
Viv is the new Community Development Officer - Planning. She will lead on developing and implementing a Community Development Plan, taking in to account the aims of all of the community and voluntary groups in the area. Both Ewan and Viv will work together to support sustainable development within the community.
The Ullapool Community Trust was established in 2009, after the successful bid by Lochbroom Community Council for a place within the Community Powerdown initiative. The Powerdown initiative helped communities across Scotland undertake projects to lower carbon emissions and save energy. The Trust does not replace any existing organisation, but aims to enhance and pull together existing and new ideas from individuals and local groups.
As present, the Trust has eight Trustees, but involves both individuals and groups throughout the community to get things done. All residents and groups in the Lochbroom Community Council area are entitled to full membership of the Trust, which costs £3 a year, to help develop the economic, cultural and social sustainability of Ullapool and Lochbroom.
Diane Campbell, Director of Ullapool Community Trust, said: "Ullapool Community Trust are thrilled to be included in the HIE project. Having both Viv and Ewan in post will be a huge boost for us and for other local community organisations. Work is underway to identify them all as part of the community plan, however, there is estimated to be 30 or 40 groups in the area that will ultimately benefit from their work.
"We had hoped to continue the Powerdown project but along with many other communities around Scotland our bid for continuation funding was unsuccessful. With Viv and Ewan in post some of the aims of our Powerdown 2 proposal can now be taken forward."
One of the projects currently underway is the installation of a District Heating Scheme, using biomass, which will serve the local swimming pool, village hall and arts centre.
As well as being part funded by the European Union's LEADER programme, support is also provided from a HIE member of staff. HIE development manager Lindsay Simpson will be working closely with the community group.
"We are assisting the Ullapool Community Trust to complete an ambitious development plan." said Lindsay. "The community itself will control and drive the development and we will be on hand to provide the support they need. We want to help communities carry out sustainable community action planning and deliver projects of direct benefit to them."