Sutherland Adaptive and Collaborative Communities Project

The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust is delighted to introduce the project team who will deliver the new Adaptive and Collaborative Communities project for Sutherland, funded by the Aspiring Communities Fund from the Scottish Government.

SACC team, from left to right: Laura Hamlet, Gail Prince and Jodie Ross.

Working in partnership with the Sutherland Community Partnership the Project Coordinator, Gail Prince, and three Project Officers, Jodie Ross, Laura Hamlet and Rebecca Dunphy started in their new roles in August 2020.

Chair of Sutherland Community Partnership Chief Inspector Jamie Wilson said, “I would like to warmly welcome the new team. I look forward to Sutherland’s communities benefitting from the skill and expertise that they will bring to the partnership as we work towards a positive future during recovery from Covid-19”.

Working with local partners and statutory agencies to deliver the project the team will build on the success of the Community Engagement phase completed in 2019 to take forward the Locality Plans which were created for several communities across Sutherland.

This project will run over the next 21 months, up to April 2022, and will address issues identified as most important by the local communities. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will have a significant impact on the project delivery. The first step of the delivery will be an online consultation process with communities to gather evidence on how the needs in local communities have changed from the Locality Plans as a result of the pandemic.

The project will focus on the five locality areas identified as a result of the 2019 Community Engagement project: Brora, Golspie, Kinlochbervie, Creich and Helmsdale, and recognises the need to widen the geographical area to include wider Sutherland due to the pandemic. The Project Coordinator and Project Officers’ roles will be split across four regions of Sutherland – West, North, East and Central/South East.

Project activity will take forward the actions identified in the Locality Plans and will focus on proposals that most effectively understand and address local deprivation, the need to tackle poverty and increase inclusion, increase economic activity, enhance community resilience and develop community delivery of services.

Gail Prince, Project Coordinator said, “I am excited to be moving back to the Highlands to take on the role of Project Coordinator for this Adaptive and Collaborative Communities project. Despite the challenging circumstances we are all facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic this project has come at exactly the right time to make a real difference across the communities of Sutherland. The Trust have recruited an excellent team and we are all looking forward to delivering the project.”

David Watson, Trust Manager added, “We are delighted to have the new team in place and can’t wait to begin the hard work of supporting the most fragile communities in Sutherland to develop projects that will make a real difference as we recover from the impacts of Covid-19.”

The Adaptive and Collaborative Communities Project Team members are:

Project Coordinator (F/T) Gail Prince

For the past six years Gail has been the National Development Officer for Scottish ClubSport (formerly the Scottish Association of Local Sports Councils). This role involved managing the organisations operational and strategic direction, maintaining and growing partnerships and engaging key stakeholders. Gail is also an external grant assessor for Foundation Scotland and sits on the Board of Scottish Fencing.

Gail previously spent seven years working as the Development Officer for the Loanhead Miners Charitable Society delivering several projects including those addressing food poverty and community asset development.

Gail is originally from the Isle of Lewis and spent her last few school years in Thurso before studying in Glasgow, moving back up north to Inverness and has since been settled in Midlothian for the last 15 years. Gail took up her post at the beginning of August and is looking forward to moving back to the Highlands. Her range of operational, strategic and project experience gives Gail a fantastic grounding for leading the new team for the next 21 months.

Project Officer (F/T) Jodie Ross

For the past two and a half years Jodie has been working for KoSDT, originally as a project officer in the Community Engagement Team which undertook the engagement, planning and creation of locality plans for the communities of Sutherland on behalf of the Sutherland Community Partnership. Since the Community Engagement project was completed in December 2019 Jodie has been providing Project Officer support to Lairg and District Community Initiatives (LDCI) helping to deliver new and existing projects for the community of Lairg.

Jodie is Dornoch born and bred and her experience of working in the Sutherland Community Engagement Project, and with the members of the SCP, will provide valuable knowledge to assist the new members of the team.

Project Officer (P/T) Laura Hamlet

Laura has worked for the North West Highlands Geopark (NWHG) since 2014 and for the past two years has been employed as the Geopark Coordinator. Last year, Laura led the NWHG through its UNESCO Global Geopark status revalidation. Laura has also spent three years working as a project officer for Wester Ross Biosphere Ltd, working with community groups, industry and public sector to develop a Destination Management Plan for Wester Ross.

Laura lives with her family in Achiltibuie and takes an active role in her local community. Laura will continue to work part time with NWHG alongside this post. Her experience of project delivery, and working with the communities in North and West Sutherland, will be a valuable asset to the team as the project develops.

Rebecca Dunphy

Project Officer (P/T) Rebecca Dunphy

Rebecca has spent the past three years working as a Rural Development Officer for Common Good Solutions (CGS) in Nova Scotia, Canada. CGS is an organisation that supports community and social enterprises to start up and grow. Rebecca’s role gave her responsibility for business planning, socio-economic analysis, impact measurement, and workshop facilitation. This included providing project development support to established and aspiring social enterprises and community groups.

In 2019 Rebecca undertook a nine-week work exchange within the Strengthening Communities directorate of Highlands & Islands Enterprise. As part of the placement she produced a report with recommendations on how social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands can improve engagement with young people. During this placement Rebecca visited Sutherland where she was impressed with the sense of community and the innovative approaches taken to address local issues.

Rebecca is a native of Cape Breton Island in Canada and is moving to start a new life on a croft outside Ardgay. Rebecca’s experience of working with communities to develop projects will be a great asset to the team as will the fresh ideas she brings from Nova Scotia to the Highlands of Scotland.

by Gail Prince

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