Fingers will be crossed across the Highlands and Islands next Tuesday night as three projects from the region wait for the winners to be announced at the SURF Awards 2014.
The category winners will be announced by Derek Mackay MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands, at the SURF Awards Presentation Dinner event on Tuesday 2 December at Glasgow’s Radisson Hotel.
The three finalists from the Highlands and Islands are:
- AFLOAT (Coigach, Wester Ross) - Creative Regeneration Category
- Horshader Community Growing (Shawbost, Isle of Lewis) – Community Led Regeneration category
- Isle of Jura Community Shop (Craighouse, Isle of Jura) – Community Led Regeneration category
SURF’s annual awards process, delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, is open to all community regeneration projects in Scotland that are currently in place or that have been completed within two years of the closing date.
The purpose of the SURF Awards is:
- To recognise and reward best practice and innovation in community regeneration;
- To promote and disseminate best practice across Scotland as means of sharing knowledge and experience, and thereby enhancing future policy and practice;
- To highlight the role that regeneration projects have in improving the wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Winning projects receive additional showcase opportunities through SURF activities in the following year, as well as free consultancy support services to help them build further on their success.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) aims to see every community across the region reach its full potential. For 50 years we have been nurturing the development of dynamic sustainable communities. We work alongside local groups and organisations making a real impact on people's quality of life.
Rachael McCormack, Director of Strengthening Communities at HIE, commented: “Our communities have a strong record at the SURF Awards each year, reflecting their hard work, dedication and resolve which is recognised at a national level. These shortlisted projects have each made a significant difference to their local communities, bringing people together, building resilience and revitalising local assets. We wish all of the shortlisted groups all the best on the night.”
The SURF Awards are open to any project or initiative, taking place in Scotland, which is currently in place or which has been completed within two years of the closing date for entries. Nominations for 2014 were assessed by a panel of 21 independent judges, who are drawn from national regeneration-related organisations and community groups.
The 2014 SURF Awards are delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, with additional support from Skills Development Scotland, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland and PAS.
Over 18 months, South African artist Neville Gabie tracked – and filmed – local people as they worked together to inject new energy into the community through the collaborative building of a wooden skiff.
The 27 minute documentary follows the construction process from a wooden boat shed over a winter to the community's use of the skiff both socially and in rowing competitions.
Neville Gabie produced the film in close collaboration with Coigach Community Rowers and the wider community. It was commissioned by Inverness Old Town Art.
- Horshader Community Growing
Following interest from private developers in erecting wind turbines on community owned land in exchange for a modest financial return, local community members chose to task the trust with developing a turbine themselves. A £2 million 900kW Enercon turbine was subsequently built and the income stream is directed by the Trust towards tackling local issues and improving quality of life.
These new resources supported the development of a Growing Project in January 2014, which provides four food-growing polytunnels that supplies year-round fresh fruit and vegetables for the community. It also provides accessible covered allotment tunnels for community members to use, and a programme of workshops that provides advice and ideas on growing produce and the preparation of healthy meals.
The Growing Project is led by Horshader Community Development Trust, a charitable organisation whose members include almost all adults in the three villages. The Trust works in formal partnership with the local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
- Isle of Jura Community Shop
Jura Development Trust was set up in 1997 to implement a wide range of projects to improve island life, including securing the future of a mainland passenger ferry, promoting tourism and improving the village hall.
The new Jura Community Shop opened in April 2014, providing a lifeline to local citizens who would have faced a five hour return ferry to the closest supermarket on the nearest island, Islay. The shop also supports the local tourism industry and visiting sailors, encourages the retention of families, and provides meaningful work and volunteering opportunities.
The Big Lottery Fund in Scotland provided the £653k grant purchase, refurbishment, extension, and revenue support, and additional support was provided by, among others, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll & Bute Council.