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Community / Cope to benefit from £700,000 of island funding

THREE projects in Shetland, including Cope Ltd, are to share more than £840,000 in funding from the Scottish Government to stimulate economic activity and improve community assets.

The funding allocations for 13 projects in Scotland’s islands, worth a total of £4.1 million, was announced by islands secretary Mairi Gougeon during her keynote speech to a net zero conference in Lerwick on Tuesday.

The other two successful Shetland projects are the Community Development Company Nesting and the Bigton Regeneration Hub.

Cope Ltd is to receive £695,000 for a project that will see the expansion of the charity’s Shetland Home Co re-use centre, locally better known as the scrap store.

The project, based at its Gremista headquarters, sells furniture, electrical goods, and homeware among other items.

The participants who work there are breaking down barriers and stigmatisation and show that people with a learning disability can sustain employment.

General manager Steven Coutts said he was “delighted” with the news as this funding would now enable Cope to move forward with the project.

The plan is to extend the current size of the building by two thirds, covering the sorting yard on the left side of the entrance currently occupied by a number of containers.

He said the extension project will give the business much needed additional space and will also allow for an expansion of the retail area.

“We are very busy and continue to receive a lot of donations from the community,” Coutts said.

He added that he hoped for the planning application to be lodged early this summer and said “this would not happen without this funding”.

The government said the expansion project would support the circular economy, Scotland’s net zero ambitions and positively impact on individuals with learning disabilities – one of the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market.

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Meanwhile, the community development company in Nesting is to receive £75,202 to transition a section of its vacant land into a community growing space and park for skills building, food growing and volunteering.

It will address an identified local demand for a community growing space and increase regular access to affordable, fresh produce, featuring options for shared, publicly accessible outdoor and undercover growing to allow the production of fruit and vegetables, the government said.

Finally, the regeneration hub in Bigton is in line to receive £71,005 to help with phase one of the renovation of the Hymhus, the community’s former kirk.

The government funding will secure the future of the community asset, and ensure the longer-term sustainability of the building.

The cabinet secretary said: “This new funding displays our commitment to enact our National Islands Plan across all six island authorities in Scotland in order to tackle island depopulation, boost local economies and bolster tourism.”

Council leader Emma Macdonald said she was delighted with the announcement.

She added: “The projects which we put forward for consideration were developed and driven by local communities, and address vital issues for our future such as employment support for vulnerable people, regeneration of community assets, food security, and addressing climate change through the circular economy.”

The other ten projects receiving funding are:

  • £298,900 – Canna Hub, Canna – Highland Council
  • £700,000 – Infrastructure for Worker Accommodation – Mull, Argyll and Bute Council
  • £450,000 – Tiree Community Care Hub – Tiree, Argyll and Bute Council
  • £730,998 – Garrison House Regeneration Scheme, Cumbrae – North Ayrshire Council
  • £220,625 – Dyemill Bike Park, Arran – North Ayrshire Council
  • £250,000 – Stornoway Campus, Lewis – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
  • £382,307 – Acarsaid Harbour Development Eriskay and South Uist – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
  • £200,000 – Kirkwall Bridge Street Development – Mainland Orkney, Orkney Islands Council
  • £78,350  – An Taigh Mor, Lewis – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
  • £55,000 – Seallam! Hebrides People Visitor Centre, Harris –  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

While in Shetland, Gougeon will also hold talks with Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) and the local authority.

She gave a short opening speech at a two day conference on net zero islands, convened by Nordic Energy Research and hosted by the Scottish Government, which is not open to the public.

The conference will showcase the Orion clean energy project and also hear of progress made with the government’s carbon neutral islands project of which Yell is one of six.

She said: “The challenges we are facing can’t be solved in isolation, we must continue to work together. Being here with you today at this Net Zero Islands event, provides me with an opportunity to emphasise the importance for Scotland of continuing to collaborate with our Nordic partners.

“As a pioneer of renewable energies and decarbonisation, I am certain that Scotland can also offer expertise and help catalyse international efforts.”

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