Islanders are presently not able to travel by ferry to Oban on the mainland for their shopping due to current travel restrictions.
Having everyone on Coll going to the same place for essential supplies meant that the shop, called ‘TES Coll’, had to adapt after closing to the public overnight. With the help of volunteers, owners Paula Jamieson and Dougie Brown now run an order and delivery service, which was quickly set-up after the shop closure.
A website was created to show residents all the stock on offer and they have been busy stocking up after freight deliveries arrive three times a week from Oban.
Community group, Development Coll was awarded £10,000 through the Supporting Communities Fund to help provide affordable food to islanders, purchase PPE for staff at the shop and fuel station and for the volunteers who make deliveries.
TES Coll has received a share of the funds to cover some of the freight costs to bring food and essential items to the island. This means that residents can purchase goods from the shop at a more affordable price than usual. For example, a 2 litre carton of milk usually sells for £2.35 but is currently selling for £1.69, a saving of around 20 percent.
The Scottish Government fund is administered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in the region. It enables community groups across the region to respond swiftly to local need for people impacted economically or through reduced contact with society, including anyone struggling to access food.
Paula from TES Coll, said: “The money helps to provide food and essentials to every resident on the island at a more affordable cost. No-one has had to leave the house for groceries and everyone gets what they need. Being resilient is a way of life for islanders and we know how to cope when supplies don’t arrive and when we are cut off from the mainland and we are always looking out for our neighbours. Our business had to be creative and adapt literally overnight and the fund has made a big difference to us and will benefit everyone who lives on the island.”
Peter McDonald, HIE senior development manager at HIE in Argyll, said: “Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the ferry would normally run daily at this time of year but is now operating a lifeline timetable aimed at keeping essential goods, services and people going to and from the islands. The local shop is providing a crucial service for local people through their order and delivery service, which is helping the community massively. We are pleased that Development Coll will also use the funds to purchase much needed PPE equipment such as hand sanitiser for use in the community.”
Nic Smith, vice chair of Development Coll, said: “We are delighted that the Supporting Communities Fund is able to benefit the residents on Coll during this difficult time.”