INVESTING OVER £80,000 TO EASE COST OF LIVING
Celebrating the launch of the 2023 Strategic Plan, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn is issuing £60 of local shop vouchers to all 900 households on the Galson Estate, matching their vision with action.
Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (UOG) has been working tirelessly through the winter months to alleviate the financial pressure on the residents of the estate: a series of subsidies, item provision and referrals from professional agencies have resulted in over £30,000 being invested to counteract the rising cost of living faced by all. Although the success of these schemes cannot be denied there was still more to do. UOG has been fortunate enough to have been awarded £25,000 from the National Lottery Communities Fund which has been match funded by UOG’s own funds by a further £29,000 to print £54,000 of vouchers which will be distributed between every household on the Galson Estate.
As well as being a helping hand to our residents during a time of rising costs, this initiative will also directly invest over £50,000 back into the local businesses, the heartbeat of the community. Directing the spend to the four local grocery and fuel providers in north Lewis gives a welcome boost to these small businesses and vital employers in the area who are also faced with the same pressures of rising costs.
Alongside this is the launch of the reviewed strategic plan, which recognises the changing needs of the community since the trust’s first strategic plan in 2016: the aims in this plan will help guide the work of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn looking over the next fifteen years ensuring the longevity of being an active and effective community land owner. The strategic plan has, of course, stayed true to the original intention as set out in the 2016 plan but has adapted and grown to address the very changing social, economic and political landscape we have seen over the past six years.
There are still four priority areas:
crofting and land use, which, as a community land owner, is the core of our work; ensuring; ensuring sustainability in the management of the land;
care and wellbeing (formally elderly care), which aims to support residents to remain active and independent for as long as possible and expanding this priority to include all age groups ensures a focus on health and wellbeing from an early age;
exceptional place, which celebrates the culture and heritage of the area, while working towards supporting the further development of a vibrant community and finally
tourism; providing infrastructure and information to allow visitors to fully embrace all that the Galson estate has to offer, benefitting local business and community organisations.
Having the ambition of a twenty year plan allows the trust to focus attention on long term transformational projects such as generating sustainable income through renewables, the redevelopment of the Butt of Lewis lighthouse and housing projects, alongside the business as usual of managing the land and supporting and delivering programmes of activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Agnes Rennie, Chair, quotes “The range of support packages, agreed by the Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn Board, reflect how important it was seen to make assistance available where it would reach as many people as possible in the community. These initiatives show what’s possible when a community trust manages its own for the benefit of the wider community.”
Jemma MacVicar, Executive Manager, says “Our focus is on the long term aims of the trust to continue to build a thriving and well-connected community with excellent local services and amenities but at the same time is important to be able to react quickly to the changing environment and do all we can to support the community through challenging times such as those we find ourselves in now. The team at Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn are proud to have been able to deliver such a range of initiatives to help ease the cost of living and it is only possible thanks to those who had the vision at the outset to invest in renewables and generate the income we benefit from today, showing the importance of communities being able to create their own wealth through the development of income generators such as renewables.”
The strategic plan is available to view at https://www.galsontrust.com/community-engagement
Vouchers will begin to be delivered through post from Wednesday 29th March. If you have not received your voucher by 7th April please contact the UOG office on 01851850393 or email@example.com