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Also in the news / Festival dates announced, decarbonising housing, respitality available again, Find your True North, and more …

The Find Your True North was launched on Wednesday to coincide with the final episode of the series six of the Shetland crime drama. Photo: Promote Shetland

A HIGH profile digital marketing campaign to attract more visitors to the islands this winter has been launched by Promote Shetland this week.

The Find Your True North campaign has been described as an ambitious multi-channel publicity drive.

Visit Scotland funding totalling £60,000 made the publicity drive possible and the work is in addition to Promote Shetland’s core effort to market Shetland as an attractive place to live, work, visit, study and invest.

The Promote Shetland contract is currently held by local company NB Communication. Its head of content marketing Adam Civico said the desire to extend the season into the winter months had been a long-held aspiration for the tourism industry.

“Our Find Your True North campaign builds on Shetland’s location and the sense of adventure and excitement that visitors can experience in the winter,” he said.

A new campaign website has been launched at https://www.shetland.org/visit/winter

Icelandic director Yrsa Rosa Fannberg attended this year’s Screenplay.

SHETLAND Arts has announced the dates for next year’s film and literature festivals.

Screenplay will run over five days from 30 August to 4 September, while Wordplay has a four-day slot between 22 and 25 September 2022.

The arts development agency said two of the UK’s most northerly art festivals would run in accordance with the Covid guidelines at that time, after this year’s festivals were successfully held as hybrid events.

The 2021 festivals saw audiences of 2,000 across 52 screenings and 17 talks and workshops, despite the challenges of running in-person events during COVID-19, Shetland Arts said.

The agency added that it would welcome discussions regarding potential sponsorship opportunities of the festivals.

THE Scottish Government has confirmed that significant additional spending on housing will be needed and that a task force to tackle decarbonisation of the country’s housing stock is to be established.

During parliament this week, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart raised the need for extra funding for the Highlands and islands area due to higher level of fuel poverty.

Wishart has previously raised the issue of housing shortages in the isles and the negative impact on depopulation.

“It is one thing to build new houses to the most modern designs and energy efficient standards.  It is quite another to retrofit and upgrade existing housing stock, let alone future proof them, without more investment in terms of money and resource,” she said.

“Energy efficient standards change and social landlords must update properties accordingly. In the long-term future-proofing is likely to be cost saving.”

Jonathan Williamson of Fjara and VAS carer support worker Kirsten Harcus outside the popular cafe in Lerwick.

SHETLAND Carers have restarted their “respitality” (respite + hospitality) scheme offering short breaks for unpaid carers when they need it most.

This is achieved by connecting carers’ organisations, with hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses who are willing to donate a break free of charge.

VAS carer support worker Kirsten Harcus said: “Respitality offers a win-win to both parties: Carers receive a much-needed break from their caring responsibilities while business donors give something back to their community and at the same time raise their own profile.”

The service, like so many others, had to stop when Covid struck last year, but has now reopened.

One local business that has sign up to the partnership some years ago is Fjara. Proprietor Jonathan Williamson said: “Fjara really enjoys being part of the respitality scheme as it allows us to give back to a community that has continued to support us over the years.

“It is always important that we look after those carers who give up so much supporting other people and that they themselves get a little break and some time to relax. ‘’

HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has said he recognises concerns that transport bottlenecks are “hindering” progress in developing economic activity in Orkney and Shetland.

Halcro Johnston, the Scottish Conservatives’ shadow minister for business, was speaking after issues around ferry capacity were raised at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s economy committee earlier this week.

The committee was taking evidence from the freight and distribution sector – including from Bryan Hepburn, operations manager for DFDS, who is based at the company’s Shetland Transport depot in Lerwick.

Hepburn highlighted the importance of both the Northern Isles’ internal ferry services and the ferry links with the Scottish mainland, with high value products such as salmon often having to use local ferries just to reach the Shetland mainland.

Halcro Johnston said: “We need to see fit-for-purpose ferries and freight boats on our inter-island and mainland routes, as well as improved road and rail links on mainland Scotland to allow goods to get to their ultimate destinations in a timely and cost-effective manner.

“Unfortunately, we have seen little recognition from SNP ministers in Edinburgh that they recognise the need for improved links within and from the islands, and no plan as to how they will improve them.”

THE companies behind the Viking Energy wind farm  have donated £1,000 to mental health charity Mind Your Head.

The charity was recently invited to deliver wellness sessions to all project personnel at the Viking community hub at the project’s main compound.

SSE Renewables’ construction manager Paul Nicholson said: “Unfortunately, mental health remains an illness that often goes undetected due to lack of knowledge of symptoms.

“Understandably, people often do not know how to care for themselves or someone else, when they may be managing an invisible illness on a daily basis.

“Mind your Head is a local charity that supports people facing a wide variety of mental health challenges and it was great to welcome them to site and I know our colleagues benefited from the facilitators’ expertise.”