Advice and Support

sheep in field with trees and white sky

Whether you are a farmer, crofter, community group or business there are a range of organisations that can advise and support you to meet your goals. Below, we highlight several key organisations supporting rural and island interests. 

Farm Advisory Service

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Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) helps farmers and crofters to access the latest information and resources to increase profitability and sustainability through the following services. Part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), it is funded by the European Union and Scottish Government.

Advice facility

This dedicated advice service by telephone 0300 323 0161 or email advice@fas.scot signposts farmers and crofters to information and guidance on cross compliance, water framework directive, climate change, greening and other matters relating to sustainable land management.

One-to-one support

Providing financial support for:

Events and publications

A full programme of events including workshops, network farm meetings, conferences and training courses are delivered across Scotland.

The FAS website also has a wide range of publications including the online SAC Farm Management Handbook, FAS newsletters, Agri-Business News, guidelines and information notes in an easy-to-find library of resources and information.

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Croft and Small Farm Subscriptions

The Croft and Small Farm Advisory Service provides discounted subscription and consultancy services for crofters and small farming businesses (under 30 Ha) across Scotland. This service ensures that no matter the scale of your enterprise or its location the Farm Advisory Service can provide the support you need.


Advice for third sector organisations

A range of organisations are available to provide suport and guidance to rural and island community groups.

TSI Scotland - If you are a third sector organisation or community group looking for advice and guidance you can contact your local Third Sector Interface (TSI). Each local authority area in Scotland has a TSI to support, promote, develop and represent the third sector. You can find out more, and search for your local TSI at the TSI Scotland Network website here


 

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations - The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) runs an information service for the third sector. You can call 0800 169 0022 or email enquiries@scvo.org.uk.


Village Halls and Community Hubs 

Village halls and community hubs are often the heart of rural and island communities. They are places for people to gather, learn, access services and have fun. Making sure they are well run and maintained is an important but not always easy role, often fulfilled by committed volunteers and workers.

SRN have funded the development and publication of a handbook for everyone running a village or community hall in Scotland or considering the development of a new facility -  the 'Village and Community Halls Handbook'.

Produced by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) from Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), with support from SRN, the publication will guide community organisations through what they need to know to manage and run a sustainable village hall or community space.

Visit and explore the Village and Community Halls Handbook.


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The Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) is a Scottish Government funded programme, set up to:

Help community groups in Scotland take on assets for their community, giving them greater control of land and buildings, and helping to ensure local service delivery in the future. 
Support local authorities, other public bodies and members of Community Planning Partnerships to transfer a building or land asset, recognising the benefits of partnership working with the community to meet future goals. 


Plunkett UK | Woodstock

Plunkett UK is a charity that supports people to set up and run a wide range of businesses which are owned by local communities, where members have equal and democratic control. At the start of 2023 Plunkett represented around 750 community-owned businesses in rural and urban areas throughout the UK, from shops and pubs through to woodlands, farms and fisheries.


Community Energy Scotland is a registered charity who are  community energy specialists, providing detailed, independent and ongoing support for all aspects of community energy project development – from micro to megawatt scale, from heat to transport. We aim to cover the cost of this service through fees payable from grants or loans secured by project groups.


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Local Energy Scotland  manage CARES - the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme. CARES supports communities across Scotland to engage with, participate in and benefit from the energy transition to net zero emissions.


 


Building Community Group Capacity

Case studies can be useful for showcasing the activities, challenges and lessons learned from a particular initiative - sharing the story behind the numbers, and providing real, relatable examples.

They can be a very effective way of communicating the impact of a particular project, in a way which is practical, authentic and meaningful and are therefore important evidence when it comes to the evaluation of projects and to applying for funding streams.

To support community groups produce effective case studies, our guide for community groups, ‘Telling your story through case studies’ is an inaluable tool. 

This guide is for grassroots community groups including Local Action Groups (LAG), development trusts, community councils and others who are delivering projects in their local area, and who want to create a case study to help tell the story of their work.

Access the guide here


Business Support - Food Tourism Industry Guide

VisitScotland have published a handy Food Tourism Industry Guide to support rural and island businesses. 

Businesses can learn what food tourism is, how it can benefit their business and how to develop quality food tourism experiences.

Food and drink are a key part of a visit to Scotland, with visitors keen to try local food and drink. Thanks to our landscape, we have a rich, natural larder and plenty of home grown produce to offer visitors. We have diverse food and drink experiences and passionate local food ambassadors.

The guide covers an array of sections such as; 

  • How to develop a quality food tourism experience 
  • How to market your food tourism business
  • How to source local produce 
  • Providing Food and Drink experiences
  • Case Studies and inspiration 

You can also find further resources on funding, upskilling, food standards, annual awards and more. 

Use this food tourism industry guide to discover how to create impactful experiences that exceed the expectations of visitors and help you make the most of this lucrative market.

You can access the guide here 


New Business Support

Growbiz provide free support services for anyone who is considering becoming self-employed, starting or growing an existing small business or social enterprise in rural Scotland


New Business Support - Enterprise Agencies 

Support for your business in Scotland can go a long way when aided by Enterprise Agencies which include;

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Scottish Enterprise  (SE) is Scotland’s national economic development agency who enable businesses to innovate and scale to transform Scotland’s economy.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) work with communities, enterprises and stakeholders to unlock our region’s potential for growth and progress, while driving fair work and net zero practices.

South of Scotland Enterprise Logo

South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) is the development agency for businesses and enterprising communities throughout Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. We are here to help people and enterprises in the South to thrive, grow, and fulfil their best potential. Every enterprise is different, and SOSE support is tailored to your stage and situation. Services can include training, advice, specialist expertise, and funding (grants and loans).

​All can provide ongoing support including funding.


Rural Innovation Support Service

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The Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) helps farmers, foresters and crofters find practical, sustainable solutions to everyday challenges affecting their business.

If your idea is practical and sustainable RISS, part of the Scottish Rural Network and led by Soil Association Scotland, will provide you with a facilitator from across their partner organisations.  

Visit our RISS page for more information.