Community groups and volunteers in Orkney have been swinging into action in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Community anchor organisations on the islands have received grants from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund.
The fund is administered in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Shapinsay Development Trust has been awarded £39,224 to help the island’s 300 residents during the pandemic.
The trust has been working with volunteers to distribute 80 freshly prepared ready meals and 90 food parcels in Shapinsay each week, making sure that young children, those who are self-isolating and people on low income are all being looked after.
David Campbell, development manager at Shapinsay Development Trust, said:
“The response from communities here during the crisis has been amazing.
“We are delighted to receive this fund, which is a massive boost to the work we are doing and will help deliver lifeline support to the most vulnerable on Shapinsay.
“As we are reaching out to the whole community in Shapinsay, the award will allow us to continue to deliver our food parcels while it’s needed and will also help us in the coming weeks.”
Further north, on Sanday, the development trust has received £23,650 to support the community and is working with local businesses to set up a refrigerated food bank.
Through its ‘No Home is Alone’ service, leaflets are sent to 233 homes and volunteers are making phone calls to every household to make sure they are ok.
The regular game of Bingo and other online events are keeping residents entertained during lockdown and those suffering a loss of income are being provided with food through a parcel scheme to help feed their families.
They can also apply for one-off fuel grants to help with heating bills.
A smartphone and 4G mobile hotspot loan service enables vulnerable residents on Sanday, with no phone or internet, access to be able to make video calls to NHS Hear Me as well as to friends and family.
A range of equipment is also available for loan such as radios and smart speakers for those living on their own.
An island website sandayonline.com has been developed to provide a single source of information in response to the crisis.
Kieron Brogan, community development officer at Sanday, said:
“People are pulling together to ensure our community is looked after.
“This fund is a real help to the community and to our volunteers who have been working hard to ensure that people do not feel isolated and are able to receive emergency food supplies and support.”
A further £22,069 is going to the Rousay, Egilsay & Wyre Development Trust.
The organisation is working with the island shop, the haulier, the hotel and the Triangle Club, which provides support to the elderly residents on the islands. Soup and sandwiches are being offered by volunteers to vulnerable people.
The fund will help to purchase PPE equipment for volunteers as well as hand sanitisers, disposable aprons and gloves.
The Eday Partnership will receive £30,840 to share out and £12,500 will go to The Island of Hoy Development Trust.
North Ronaldsay Trust will get £6,089 and Papa Development Trust £5,000.
Stronsay Development Trust will be awarded £19,776 and Voluntary Action Orkney £48,245 while Westray Development Trust receives £2,932.
Francesca Couperwhite, head of strengthening communities at HIE’s Orkney area team, said:
“The community anchor organisations sit right at the heart of their communities and are already playing a key active role in providing services within their neighbourhoods.
“The funding will enable them to expand their existing networks and connections.
“We have seen many examples of this incredible response to COVID-19 in the past few weeks and they have made such a huge difference to so many people.
“The funds will help groups across Orkney, which are helping to deliver lifeline support to the most vulnerable.
“It will also help anchor organisations to co-ordinate and deliver their responses over the coming weeks.”