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Yell community's COVID-19 response

Supporting Communities Fund award for Yell

Supporting Communities Fund award for Yell

The community of Yell, the largest of Shetland's North Isles, is amongst the first to secure funding from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund. It will receive up to £20,000 to help with the local response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Yell Community Council is co-ordinating volunteer efforts to support the island’s 950 residents. With a higher than average number of vulnerable and older people, the community has been quick to leap into action to ensure that anyone in self-isolation, who needs to be shielded or in need has access to food, heating and medication.

The island has created a COVID-19 Response Group with volunteers from local education, care services, development organisations and the Red Cross. It’s in touch with the Shetland-wide local authority COVID-19 Support Hub.

Community council vice chair, Annette Jamieson, says: “Yell is a very community minded place and being a small island we are used to supporting each other. People are pulling together to ensure our community is looked after. We’re finding innovative ways of keeping connected, staying resilient and reaching out to those who may need a bit of extra help in current times.

 

The Supporting Communities Fund is a welcome addition and it’s great that we have received this so speedily, in turn allowing us to respond quickly within Yell.
Annette Jamieson, vice-chair, Yell Community Council

Getting help to where it's needed

Enthusiastic and committed volunteers from all walks of island life are delivering a wide range of lifeline services.  Volunteers are working with the Yell Health Centre to undertake medical deliveries, and the local bus company is also helping out in a voluntary capacity. Yell Health Centre Support group has provided funds for some home health monitoring equipment to reduce home visits.

North Yell Development Company has used some of their wind farm income to distribute stay safe packs and food vouchers to households within their membership area.

Local businesses are also involved. After introducing a delivery service, the local shops are working flat out to keep everyone supplied.  The local salmon farm Cooke Aquaculture is still hard at work, but has also offered salmon supplies for those in need, as well as helping with printing a community newsletter.

Everyone is playing their part in keeping community spirits up. As part of its weekly Clap for Carers, local households are lighting up their homes with fairy lights as a mark of respect to frontline COVID-19 staff.

Going forward

The community is launching a telephone get together for older residents. Organiser, Karen Hannay commented: “Stepping Out is a social group which usually meets fortnightly, and ‘Stepping Out Stays Home’ will bring the club together on the phone for some much-needed contact. If successful a programme of activity will run on a regular basis. We’re conscious that this client group may need to socially isolate for longer, and we are keen to make sure that everyone stays in touch in a safe way.”

Mhari McLeman, Head of Shetland’s Strengthening Communities Team added: “It’s great to see remoter areas such as Yell benefiting from the Supporting Communities Fund. Yell is a go-ahead community with high levels of volunteering even in the best of times, who are pulling together to deliver and respond to the unique challenges their community now faces as a result of the Covid19 emergency. 

“HIE is distributing the Fund to eligible anchor organisations in the region’s communities on behalf of the Scottish Government. It will allow the local groups to co-ordinate and deliver responses over the coming weeks and months.”

Photo courtesy of Ryan Nisbet.