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Young community leaders open national development conference in Aviemore

Published: 27/05/2019

Thirty young people from the Highlands and Finland will open a national community development conference in Aviemore today.

The session is part of the Strengthening Communities Conference Scotland 19, being organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The two-day event has attracted around 300 people from communities across Scotland, England, Norway and the USA.

As well as the youth agenda, delegates will cover a range of hot topics including land ownership, housing, community energy, tourism, culture and heritage, delivery of services and financing.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Govt Aileen Campbell is one of three keynote speakers.

Ms Campbell said: “I’m eager to hear from people of all ages across Scotland and from different countries to learn about their experience. It’s really important that we listen to young people and understand how we can encourage greater participation from them in community decision making. This is a great opportunity for us to support the next generation of community leaders and learn from each other.”

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and Prof Sarah Skerratt director of policy engagement with Scotland’s Rural College, are the other keynotes looking at what drives community development and innovation.

The event includes a marketplace with 40 support organisations and fringe events. Channel 4 News chief correspondent Alex Thomson will lead delegates through the conference programme.  

The theme of the event is ‘Ionnsachadh is fàs le chèile’, 'Learning and Growing Together'. It is being supported by the Scottish Government, South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership, Scottish Enterprise, SSE and Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA).

Prof. Lorne Crerar, Chair of HIE said: TBC “SCCS19 builds on the success of our inaugural conference 18 months ago. The programme has been designed based on the feedback of the community organisations at the heart of local development. It offers a practical opportunity to share experiences, seek advice and look at new opportunities for social and economic development in the places where we live and work.”

CNPA have organised two fringe events around the Conference to explore key local topics. This includes the international youth event.

Grant Moir, Chief Executive of CNPA said: “Following the launch of the Europarc Youth Manifesto last September the Cairngorms National Park Authority has committed to establishing a Youth Council for the Park. Giving young people from across the Park a voice in decision making on the urgent issues of the day from the climate emergency and biodiversity loss to rural services and affordable housing is key to ensuring we have a sustainable and vibrant Park in the future. The fringe events will provide a forum to discuss how we take this forward together with communities and people in the Park.” 

The Conference will feature a series of films showcasing a range of successful community projects. These include – Sandwick Social and Economic Development and their project at Hoswick in Shetland, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, Minginish Community Hall Association in Skye, Nortenergy also in Shetland and Westray Development Trust in Orkney.

The Conference is fully booked. Highlights will be available online after the event at

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