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Barra and Vatersay community COVID-19 response

Supporting Communities Fund award

Buidhnean ann an Barraigh is Bhatarsaigh ag obair le chèile

Air ceann a deas nan eilean anns na h-Eileanan an Iar, tha Buidheann Saor-thoileach Barraigh is Bhatarsaigh air a bhith ag obair le buidhnean ionadail gus gnìomhan a lìbhrigeadh a thaobh èiginn Covid-19.

Tha a’ bhuidheann stèidhte sa choimhearsnachd air maoin de £14,480 fhaighinn bho Mhaoin Taic Coimhearsnachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba, a tha air a rianachd san sgìre le HIE.

Tha a’ mhaoin mu thràth a’ cuideachadh na 1,200 eileanach air Barraigh agus Bhatarsaigh le bhith a’ toirt taic do bhuidhnean ionadail gus cuideachdh.

On the southern end of the island chain in the Outer Hebrides, Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay has been working with local organisations to deliver activities in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The community based anchor organisation has secured a £14,480 award from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund, which is administered in the region by HIE.

The fund is already helping the 1,200 islanders on Barra and Vatersay respond to the impacts of COVID-19 by supporting local groups deliver emergency help in the islands of Barra and Vatersay.


We are lucky to live on islands with such a strong sense of community where we all know each other and we’ve had some great response from people who want to help.
Eoin MacNeil , chief officer, Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay

Getting help to where it's needed

One local organisation being supported by the fund through the anchor organisation is Cobhair Bharraigh - a charity that supports a home-based support service and day care for the people of Barra and Vatersay. They are contacting service users every week by telephone to check-in on them and are providing vital shopping services to local residents who are self-isolating.

Staff at Cobhair Bharraigh have also put together activity packs for children at home to allow them to paint and write letters to vulnerable and elderly people to show that they haven’t been forgotten.

Another local group receiving a share of the funds is Gàradh a Bhagh a Tuath. The therapeutic garden and café project provides volunteering and day care activities. It is planning to supply all households in Barra and Vatersay with either a free vegetable growing starter box or door side salad tub as well as houseplants for those without gardens.



Bùth Bharraigh is the local co-operative as well as a community hub in Barra. The group is putting together a selection of books and craft packages and are designing a recipe book for distribution. Crochet and other virtual classes for all ages will be also be introduced to the community, all with help from the fund.

The food bank in Barra will be supported by the fund and will be able to meet increased demand for extra resources.

Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay have agreed to co-ordinate a tablet lending service with all the partner organisations so that those who are isolated and families on low income can link up with family and access the latest information.

The award will help Barra Cancer Support Group to purchase healthcare equipment, which includes blood pressure and oxygen monitors and thermometers to help people showing symptoms of COVID-19 to be monitored in their own homes.

Fund support

Chief Officer of Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay’s Eoin MacNeil is managing to co-ordinate all of this from Glasgow where he got stranded when the lockdown came into force.

He said: “The support in the community has been amazing with people pulling together to deliver and respond to the challenges our communities face as a result of the Covid-19 emergency. We are lucky to live on islands with such a strong sense of community where we all know each other and we’ve had some great response from people who want to help.”

Senior development manager at HIE, Jan MacPherson, said: “Its great to see Barra and Vatersay benefiting from the Supporting Communities Fund. It will allow the local groups to co-ordinate and deliver responses over the coming weeks and months. The response from the community has been excellent and we are delighted that the fund will contribute towards the cost of keeping these vital services in place.”

Get in touch

For many years, Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay has been developing services to meet the needs of remote and rural community care organisations, adult learners, hospital transport, youth clubs and youth cafes.

The charity also produces the local newspaper ‘Guth Bharraidh’ and have recently been developing new services for mental health support to tackle issues of social isolation.

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