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New role to help reverse population decline in North West Sutherland

Published: 16/11/2022

A settlement officer has been appointed to support people who want to live, work or study in North West Sutherland, as part of a multi-agency approach to tackle depopulation.

Boyd Alexander will have a key role in projects that support people who currently live in or are moving into the area.

He will work with agencies and other organisations on specific projects to tackle key challenges, particularly housing, as well as other issues people face when moving into the area. Boyd will be on hand to signpost newcomers to required services and networks.

The 12-month post is funded by Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as part of a pilot project that seeks to reverse population decline in the region.

After living 22 years in the Philippines, Boyd moved to the Highlands in 2013 for work, making his home first on Bute and then in Ullapool with his family. He is a marine biologist with several decades of experience working in development and project management in both Asia and Africa.

His previous role was as scheme manager for the Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Partnership with overall responsibility for the scheme’s successful delivery.

Alexander said: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with North West Sutherland communities to develop projects within these settlements to attract and enable people to join these communities."

The post is one of three settlement officer posts, which are being established across the Highlands and Islands to assist people moving to the region, provide relocation advice and gather information about any challenges they encounter along the way.

Posts are being recruited on a 12-month pilot basis in three local authority areas – Outer Hebrides, Argyll & Bute and Highland.

HIE is currently undertaking research and evaluation in relation to repopulation and talent attraction.

Highland Council recognises the importance of depopulation and aims to support measures to reverse the decline and ensure the sustainability of rural populations. North West Sutherland, as one of the pilot areas, will benefit from both the direct intervention and partnership working with communities and agencies to identify and directly support where needed.

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