Social Enterprise of the Month
The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust was established in 2011 with a mission to regenerate the area through the creation of employment, to stimulate economic activity and to strengthen and unite its rural communities.
The Trustsâ€™ area of operation covers 680 square miles, crosses Ardgay and Creich Community Council boundaries, includes the villages of Bonar Bridge, Invershin and Spinningdale, and is home to just under 1,600 people. It has six elected directors and a nominated director from each of the community councils.
The areas in focus have suffered from economic decline since the bridging of the Dornoch Firth over 20 years ago. In recent times the closure of the youth hostel at Carbisdale Castle and the burning down of the visitor centre at the Falls of Shin have compounded this decline.
Development Manager for the Trust, Helen Houston, explained a bit about the various strands the group are busy with:â€¨ â€œFollowing our purchase of the Bonar Bridge Post Office and adjoining house, the house has now been totally renovated and is leased to a local family which brings in some welcome income. And when the only office space in the village was threatened with closure the Trust stepped in to take over the lease thus securing office space for the Trust and for Business Gateway. Our Falls of Shin team have been hard at work preparing the business case, design and planning application for the new visitor centre to be built at the Falls of Shin site. With funding from the Climate Challenge Fund our â€˜Greening Kyleâ€™ team have been assisting householders to mitigate the effects of fuel poverty which on average affects over 70% of households in the area.â€
â€œRenewable energy is also something we are keen to develop further and discussions are underway on a potential hydro project. Recently we have secured funding from the Scottish Government to offer an activity programme aimed at getting families and older people more active in mind and body.â€
â€œCommunity events are important for the Trust, whether it be our year long 40th anniversary celebration of the Bridge, holding free Big Lunch events, or indeed consultation events for our development plan and for the Falls of Shin project. Every day the Trust provides a service, advice or just acts as a sounding board for local people or groups. This interaction with local people is at the heart of our work and being based in the middle of the village ensures that the Trust is not remote, it is accessible and can be held to account by the communities which we represent.â€
Find out more about what is happening in this beautiful part of Scotland by visiting the groups website
or find them on Facebook