Our priorities

Strengthening communities and fragile areas

The Highlands and Islands is recognised as a region where communities take responsibility for shaping their future, where social enterprise as a sector is innovative, strong and growing, where community asset ownership and service delivery are well established and supported, and where unique cultural assets, including Gaelic, play a significant role in creating vibrant, strong communities.

Supporting communities to develop and grow is a central focus for us. Our approach to strengthening communities is threefold:

  • We invest in building community capacity and confidence
  • We empower communities to acquire, manage and exploit community assets for community benefit
  • We enable sustainable growth in the social economy through strong social enterprises.

Our work in creating resilient rural communities will be informed by legislative changes such as the Community Empowerment Bill and the Land Reform agenda. In addition, HIE led research such as the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for Remote Rural Scotland and the Economic and Social Value of Gaelic as an Asset will shape our activities.

Our work delivering two national programmes on behalf of the Scottish Government across rural Scotland is integrated within the Strengthening Communities work of HIE. Community Broadband Scotland brings support to communities to secure digital connectivity, and the Scottish Land Fund, which we deliver in partnership with the BIG Lottery Fund, will create more community-owned assets.

Collectively, these programmes underpin the ability of our most remote communities to develop and grow. Understanding the demographic imperative across Scotland to support and engage our young people, we will work with a focus on the broad cultural, economic, lifestyle and academic opportunities of our region.

Building our future 2014-17 we will:

  • Deliver an annual increase in turnover in the social economy of £2.5-3.5m
  • Support 40-60 account managed communities to deliver measurable impacts
  • Support land asset purchases bringing further acreage into community ownership
  • Support investment in community assets to deliver income generating opportunities including investment in community renewable energy
  • Ensure communities across remote rural Scotland have access to next generation broadband
  • Support social entrepreneurs to further develop leadership and growth skills
  • Support crofting communities to implement growth and diversification plans
  • Use the findings of Gaelic research to maximise the economic and social benefits of this distinctive regional asset

Find out more about our support for communities > 

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