Fort’s Sasha takes up new Lochaber role for Climate Action Network

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Fort William resident Sasha McKinlay has been a well-known face to shoppers on the town’s High Street in recent years, thanks to her popular Emporium of Worldly Goods, located off Monzie Square.

However, due to the impact of Covid and business changes in the High Street, the end of this month will see the closure of the physical shop premises and the ethical trading enterprise switch to online shopping.

The sustainable lifestyle and fair trade shop will be closing its bricks and mortar premises of Fort William High Street after trading for almost five years.

However, its accompanying online shop will operate for the foreseeable future, selling smaller items and flowers from its own small growing business, Flowers from Fort William.

Coupled with these changes, Sasha has added a new string to her bow and last week started work in her new role with the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN).

She told us this week: ‘From trade justice, I’ve moved into climate justice. The two issues are closely linked, as workers in areas affected by unfair trade are those least responsible for climate change, and the most affected by it.’

She described her new role to the Lochaber Times: ‘The new role is the Climate Change Network Coordinator for Lochaber for SCCAN (Scottish Communities Climate Action Network).

‘I’ll be working with community groups and individuals in Lochaber which are addressing climate change, with a view to creating a Climate Action Hub in Lochaber.

‘This is a Scottish Government-funded project and will create four jobs in Lochaber with funding for a few years. The hub will be one of several across Scotland which will support communities to make a transition to net zero and create resilience in the local area.

‘The hubs themselves could be spaces to provide activities related to climate change resilience, which could include training, organisational support, or education, across diverse areas like the arts, sustainable tourism, or energy advice – any activity that the community would find useful to support local climate action.

‘I’d like to speak to community groups involved in climate change-related activities so that we have a clear picture of what they do, what support or training they might require, if there are others in the network that they might want to work with, to find out if a hub would be useful to them, and if so, what their vision for it might look like.

‘This is an opportunity for all of the communities in the SCCAN network to share learning and resources about climate change resiliency across Lochaber and Scotland.’

Sasha will also be facilitating a local version of an Australian initiative called Climate for Change, aimed at  promoting grassroots support.

She added: ‘I’ll also eventually run Climate for Change activities to help empower individuals to address climate action in Lochaber.

‘I’ll be reaching out to community groups and organisations in due course, and I’d encourage anyone interested in learning more to email me at sasha@scottishcommunitiescan.org.uk.’