Scotland - Sweden LEADER Knowledge Exchange Trip

Catherine Idle, Fife LEADER Local Action Group

April Fools’ Day and three days beyond the set date for ‘Brexit’, seven members of Angus, Rural Perth and Kinross and Fife LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs) took the bold step of traveling to Europe.  Arriving in Växjö, South-East Sweden, the group spent a busy four days with the LEADER team and LAG members of the Linné-Småland area as part of a knowledge exchange trip.  

Over the four days, the combination of LAG discussions and project visits prompted a lot of interest, discussion, idea-sharing and questions between the groups.  It was interesting to see how LEADER works in a different European country.  LEADER Linné operates independently from local authorities and public bodies, and so can be more strategic and entrepreneurial in its approach.  This allows them to manage cash flow in ways that better support projects and help build reserves to provide continuity between the gaps in LEADER programmes. 

The project visits included Funkibator, an organisation that supports and offers people with disabilities development opportunities, innovation, social business and entrepreneurship through various projects, all located under one roof.  The project involved volunteers from all over Europe.

A project at Åsnen National Park has succeeded in making the area a popular tourism destination.  Shared vision and focus of a wide range of local stakeholders has helped develop the destination sustainably, capitalising on the geographical strengths and working with businesses and residents to ensure that all considerations were covered.  The silver birch trees and natural, peaceful setting made it a wonderful location.  The LEADER-funded local café owners were very friendly and informative – and gave us excellent tea, coffee and shrimp rolls.  The Linné LAG were keen to discuss cooperation project options, so hopefully it won’t be our only visit to this part of Sweden.