Thousands go Digital for New Highland COVID-19 Community Support Service

Pictured: Ella-Mae Hosie (8) and Theo Hosie (4), from Inverness, enjoying the Kids Zone activities on the Highland COVID-19 website.

A new online platform to help people come together during the coronavirus pandemic has already attracted 10,000 community-spirited North Highlanders.

Launched by Inverness-based events and marketing team, Planit Scotland, ‘Highland COVID-19’ is a dedicated resource for people across the North Highlands to get free access to online activities, advice and help available right on their doorstep.

Topics include local travel and shopping times, mental health and wellbeing support, recipes, home schooling, kids’ activities, adult learning, as well as legal and financial advice for individuals and businesses.

The free community information point is offering people across the North Highlands the opportunity to share valuable and dependable information that will help those in need, ease concerns and loneliness during this period of uncertainty and isolation.

Top visited pages on the ‘Highland COVID-19’ site so far include ‘Kids at home’, ‘Wellbeing’, ‘Self-isolation’ and ‘Recipes’, with over 69 per cent of content accessed from mobile devices.

Cecilia Grigor, Managing Director of Planit Scotland and Highland COVID-19 (pictured), said:

“We wanted to create a dedicated online resource to help people living in the North Highlands during the coronavirus pandemic and can be accessed for free at the simple click of a button.

“We believe that communication is more vital than ever right now.

“This is a worrying time for everyone, so we want to give people easy access to guidance and resources in one easy to find place.

“We also want to highlight the free services and activities that people can benefit from during this difficult time.

“As we find ourselves in isolation and detached from the world outside, this can be a lonely time for anyone, especially those who may be dealing with poor mental health.

“Creating this online community will allow people a sense of belonging and inclusion, as well as providing a safe space when people need it most.”

‘Highland COVID-19’ has just received funding from The North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme to help reach the widest possible audience during the pandemic.

The North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme is awarding grants of up to £1,000 for small initiatives in the education, conservation, and community service and support sectors in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty.

Priority is being given to those initiatives like ‘Highland COVID-19’ where Government support packages are unable to help, and those ineligible for emergency grants.

The North Highland Initiative (NHI) was established in 2005 as a direct result of His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay’s involvement in bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry to address the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland.

The NHI also works to build and develop a regional identity for the area.

The charity’s three key areas of activity are food and farming, tourism, and community support and leadership.

David Whiteford, Chair of the North Highland Initiative, said:

“We’re really pleased to have been able to provide financial support to Planit Scotland and Highland COVID-19.

“Our vital new initiative is already helping communities that are experiencing particular hardship as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“Our aim is to target areas, projects, and local initiatives for which Government Support packages may not be able to assist, and those ineligible for emergency funding.

“With a limit of £1,000 of funding per project available, this allows us to provide multiple smaller grants aimed at reaching out to as many communities as possible and we now want to encourage even more community groups from across the North Highlands to apply.”

People living in the North Highlands are now being invited to share their own local community support information on the ‘Highland COVID-19’ website.

Business that are continuing to provide a food box service across the region are also being asked to distribute flyers for the ‘Highland COVID-19’ project to help those in need.

For more information and take part, email highlandcovid-19@planitscotland.com, visit https://highlandcovid-19.co.uk and follow on Facebook and twitter.

For more information about the North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme, and to apply for funding, please click here.