Hebrides community invests £300,000 in Lewis

Agnes Rennie and Lisa Maclean (UOG) presenting a cheque for £10,000 to the Còmhla group.

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A community landlord in the north of Lewis has hit a significant landmark in providing over £300,000 in support towards local initiatives.

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) was established in 2007 when the 56,000 acres that runs from Upper Barvas to Port of Ness was bought by residents.

The Trust has five key priorities for sustainable development: poverty relief; training and education; housing; improved infrastructure and communication; and protection and conservation of the environment.

The trust’s chairwoman, Agnes Rennie, said: ‘The Community Investment Programme offers support to various groups and this most recent award is an excellent example of funding support, but also advice and guidance to establish a group to ensure there is support in an area where there is currently a significant gap.’

The fund is financed in part from the profits generated by a three-turbine windfarm on the estate that is almost entirely under crofting tenure.

The fund offers four different levels of funding  for projects; £1,000, £5,000 and £10,000 plus a growth fund for large-scale projects.

More than 90 individual projects have now been supported by the Urras that encompass a wide range of groups and activities from first responders to toilet facilities at the Eoropie playpark, and fitness outreach projects.

An award of £10,000 to Còmhla, a group for parents and carers with responsibility for children with additional support needs, took the Trust’s donations over the £300,000 milestone.

The group’s chairwoman, Sarah Campbell, commented: ‘The support received from the Urras will make a significant and positive difference to lives. We are grateful for the support and help provided by the Urras team to get things off the ground.’

In recent months, the Urras also provided, through its growth fund initiative, assistance of £80,000 towards the redevelopment of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, the local historical society.

The total building project was in excess of £1 million, involving several funding partners, with the Urras also providing crucial back-up support in terms of project management.