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Letters / Plenty going on in Sandwick

In response to a recent article in Shetland News, and various Facebook posts and Facebook adverts by Shetland South candidate Stewart Douglas.

Mr Douglas claims that “Shetland South is currently being left behind” and he implies that Shetland South isn’t “attracting funding for community projects”.

I’d like to draw Mr Douglas’ attention to some of the recent work that has been going on in the Sandwick area.

We believe that this significant fundraising, investment, and voluntary effort is something to celebrate and does not reflect a community which has been ‘left behind’.

Sandwick Social and Economic Development SCIO (SSED) has a considerable track record of delivering large capital projects, and we currently have a significant infrastructure project in the development stage.

This work is all done in partnership with the relevant statutory services and with the support of the Sandwick Community Council.

Hoswick Visitor Centre is the base for SSED and is a busy retail outlet for craft producers from across Shetland.  The centre is a key stopping point for coaches from cruise ships and for independent visitors, having 23,000 visitors in 2019.

The strategic location of the centre is convenient for coaches and for the cluster of businesses which are the other attractions in Hoswick (e.g.) Karlin Anderson Jewellery Design, NielaNell Designer Knitwear and Shetland Woollen Co. These local businesses work in partnership with cruise ship operators to provide an excellent experience for visitors.

The very popular Hoswick playpark is managed by volunteers and supported by Sandwick Community Council and is well-used by families from other communities.

GAETS (Garden and Ecology Trails Sandwick) progresses environmental improvements, development and maintenance of footpaths in the community, in partnership with SIC, working with the access officer.

SSED has also supported SIC officers in carrying out the audit of existing footpaths and identifying further developments required.  A significant GAETS project was the Hoswick cycle path which attracted £53,000 in funding.

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At this time, Sandwick Youth and Community Centre (SYCC) are carrying out energy saving and maintenance work to that building, where the committee work to deliver activities for children.  Plans are being made to develop the use by older people, of SYCC facilities and resources, with the support of a development worker. Again, this will be achieved by working in partnership with other agencies.

The volunteer managed Social Club have a wind turbine and is investigating installation of solar panels, and early discussions are going on about a community energy development.

Financial benefit for the community is the continuing major aim for SSED. Changes in our society, resulting from the pandemic means that a higher priority for increased social impact is now recognised by the trustees, staff and volunteers together with the community, agencies, external funders, and local funders, including Dunrossness Community Council.

Several schemes supporting vulnerable people from Sandwick and in Dunrossness, are managed by SSED, again supported by local and external funders.

In the years from 2002 to 2019, there were 27 applications for grants for infrastructure projects (not including the many small grants for £2,000 or less).  The total secured during that period amounted to £2,242,500 – at today’s prices that is equivalent to £3 – £4 million.

Community projects have carried on through lockdown with further investment made between 2020 to 2022:

  • SMUHA Galley Shed – £80,000
  • Social Club new roof, new electric boards, upgrade to toilets – £50,000
  • Sandwick Youth and Community Centre, heating, lighting and insulation – £50,000
  • Sandwick Carnegie Hall, new kitchen – £50,000

The proposed development and improvement of public facilities at Sandsayre Pier is another current major project being progressed in the community, with all relevant SIC Services, HIE and external agencies being involved in the planning.

Mr Douglas suggests projects could be “voted on by the local communities”, which is a great idea and has already taken place at the South Shetland Decides participatory budgeting events in the Sandwick Social Club and Cunningsburgh Hall.

We invite Mr Douglas to contact any of the organisations mentioned above to find out more about these projects.

Rosemary Inkster – Trustee
Neville Martin       –  Trustee
Sandwick Social and Economic SCIO

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