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North Sutherland social enterprise celebrates new beginnings

23 October 2013

A North social enterprise is celebrating after securing ownership of a local building which is at the heart the community. North Coast Connection, based in Tongue, Sutherland, has taken ownership of the Kyle Centre and a small parcel of land next to the building from Highland Council.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) supported the social enterprise with an award of £3,950 towards the acquisition of the building, adjacent piece of land and associated legal costs.

North Coast Connection delivers health and well being activity including a community lunch group three days a week. The organisation currently employs three part-time staff: a manager, a cook and a support worker who are assisted by a number of volunteers.

The long-term plan is to develop the building as a community hub and expand the activities available from three to five days a week. Already, North Coast Connection has won an award from BT’s Community Connections to run digital inclusion activities with the support of the local Get IT Together officer. The nearest Citizens Advice Bureau hold a monthly outreach session in the building and groups such as the local community council, care home action group and a new mother and toddler group all meet at the Kyle Centre.  The erection of a poly tunnel next to the centre is one part of a garden project for all ages.

Marion Macdougall from North Coast Connection, said: “We are very grateful to HIE for helping us to acquire the building and the additional land we require for development. We are committed to maintaining the current service and also to opening up the Kyle Centre for all sections of the community. It will be a valuable resource, available for and bringing benefit to all ages. Acquiring the building and the land is the first step.”

Liz Howard of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), commented: “We are delighted to be in a position to support North Coast Connection acquire the Kyle Centre. Having control of their own property will help them to deliver and expand their current services to elderly people across North Sutherland, but also give an opportunity to develop services to many other members of the community.  An increase in the range of available activities at the Kyle Centre, identified through planned community consultation exercises, will help provide opportunities for people and make the community stronger.”

Local community transport organisation, Transport for Tongue Ltd, (T4T) provide transport to the Centre for anyone wishing to access the services and activities provided by North Coast Connection. T4T operates three bus routes linking the dispersed communities of Melness, Tongue and Skerray as well as a regular service connecting with regional transport links in Lairg and Inverness.

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