Update from Highlands & Islands Connections project
Early summer we reported on a new rural mental health project – Highlands & Islands Connections. This innovative project was started by the national mental health charity Support in Mind Scotland and work is currently underway in two pilot regions –the Western Isles and Argyll & Bute.
Highlands & Islands Connections is about exploring how to strengthen community connections to make a positive difference to the mental wellbeing of people living in rural areas. The project works with the National Rural Mental Health Forum and is funded through the Scottish Government’s Aspiring Communities Fund with support from the European Social Fund.
In this article we get an update on work that’s happening in one of the pilot locations - the Uists and Benbecula. In this part of the Western Isles, the focus is on developing links between existing organisations and improving communications. The team have been working with a Glasgow-based app developer to build a digital platform that will help people to connect and engage more often in community activities.
The overall Highlands & Islands Connections project is coordinated by Ros Halley, Community Connections Manager assisted by a rural team. Ros explained how she hopes the digital aspect of the project will make a real difference to people living in some of the most remote places in Scotland:
"We have a great opportunity to use digital technology as part of our approach to test out how to increase community engagement and create more caring places. By working in partnership with local partners, the project aims to build better informed, more compassionate communities. ‘Dè tha Dol’ – ‘What’s Happening’ in Gaelic – is intended to serve as a one-stop shop for anyone looking for clubs, activities, services, businesses, attractions, mental health support and much more throughout the islands."
The project is now requesting that organisations, services, clubs and businesses add their information to the platform to create a unique community resource.
Gemma Jones, Project Development Officer with responsibility for facilitation in the Uists & Benbecula area said"
"We know that mental health and wellbeing can be improved when people connect with their community – whether that be a conversation at the supermarket, joining a club, meeting people at an event or taking part in a walking group. The goal of the website and app is to offer people the chance to find out what’s happening and where – simply knowing what’s on can be a challenge and ‘Dè tha Dol’ aims to remedy that. We have been working with over 20 local partners to bring ‘Dè tha Dol’ to life and we look forward to seeing the local community enjoying the benefits."
To make the website a success, local organisations, services, groups, clubs and businesses need to create an account on the website and add their details– this is easy to do by following the steps linked here. National charities serving the Uists and Benebecula can also be featured on the platform and should contact Crystal Hill, Support Assistant with the Highlands & Islands Connections project to be featured.
For information about the project or to express an interest in getting involved in any future rural area initiatives please contact Ros Halley firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information/assistance about adding your details on the new digital platform please contact: