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South Cowal Community's COVID-19 response

Supporting Communities Fund award

Supporting Communities Fund award boosts local response to pandemic

At the end of January, local youngsters in South Cowal cut the ribbon to celebrate the successful community buy-out of their local shop and post office, The Lido.

Locals could not have anticipated how important this community resource would become, and its central role for the staff and local volunteers tackling the COVID-19 lockdown.

South Cowal Community Enterprises (SCCE) and South Cowal Community Council (SCCC) have been working together to deliver a range of services to the community including the delivery of groceries, strengthening of The Lido’s supplier base, a telephone support line for people who feel isolated and a socially-distanced community garden where fast-growing edible plants will be grown.

They have secured a grant for £9,700 from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Award, which is being distributed in the region by HIE, to support their response.

 

With so many people at home or wanting to minimise travel, the Lido has become more important than ever to local people and, being a community shop, we are in a position to provide a wider range of services than just groceries and the Post Office.
Lorna Ahlquist, chair, SCCE

Help where it's needed

The South Cowal peninsula stretches from Bulwood, just south of Dunoon all the way around the Cowal peninsula to the tiny clachan of Inverchaolain, taking in the villages of Toward and Innellan.

Almost as soon as the lockdown happened, SCCC and SCCE started working together to get groceries out to people who were stuck at home because they were shielding, vulnerable or self-isolating.

SCCC volunteers take the food orders from people, staff in The Lido put the orders together as the shop is closed, and SCCC volunteers deliver them. More than 20 people from the local community have volunteered to be part of the delivery team.

Lorna Ahlquist, Chair of SCCE said: “When we were putting together our business plan, we’d never have dreamt that we’d be dealing with a global pandemic within a few months of opening.”

Resilient supply chains

Since the lockdown started demand on the shop has increased by around half. Similarly to all retailers it has been difficult to source basic supplies.

Lorna added: “We will be using part of the grant to diversify our supplier base and create some extra storage space for dry goods so that we won’t run out of pasta, flour and tins of food again.

“We also hope to start a programme of online events. The community really came together during the buyout process, so we are hoping we can do something that can lift people’s spirits during this challenging time.”

Peter McDonald, senior development manager at HIE, said: “The community-owned Lido is proving to be an important hub as local volunteers work together to help those shielding or self-isolating along the South Cowal peninsula. The Supporting Communities Fund will help community groups co-ordinate the best ways to respond to the crisis over the coming weeks and months.”