Warm welcome on Mull for the Islands Team

The Scottish Government Islands team are Erica Clarkson (Islands Lead) who lives and works in Orkney and Don Morrison (Islands Policy Officer) from the Outer Hebrides.

In Orkney, poor Erica had the alarm clock set for 4.30 am (including a couple of snooze button presses) for a sailing to Scrabster followed by the drive to Inverness to meet up with Don. Unfortunately for Don, the stop off in Inverness included a training run for Erica’s upcoming World Record Attempt (most consecutive days to run an ultra-marathon distance). He did manage to keep pace, but probably more due to the fact that Erica kept getting distracted by the beautiful scenery of the Inverness Canal.

After some replenishments, it was onwards to Oban via Loch Ness and Fort William through some stunning scenery which was further enhanced by an unexpected covering of snow. The following day, it was another early start to catch the ferry for Craignure for a two day tour of Mull, Iona and Ulva to hear about the inspiring community work being carried out there.

The trip to Mull was very kindly organised and coordinated by Sandy Brunton and his team from the Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT). The Islands Team very much appreciated the level of thought and effort that Sandy put into the itinerary. We were struck by the welcome we received from everyone, by the energy of those who contributed to the discussions and by the beauty of Mull. Thanks to all!

We heard many fascinating local project stories over the two days, but more importantly we came away with an understanding of  the difficulties and challenges faced on Mull – many of which  no doubt relate to other Scottish Islands communities, such as:

  • transport and infrastructure;
  • housing and fuel poverty; and
  • attracting and retaining employees across a range of sectors.

The Islands Team were also able to hear first-hand about the best way to effectively carry out their public consultations to support the development of the National Islands Plan (NIP) and the Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) templates and guidance. It is clear that in remote Island communities the effective use of community development groups and social media are going to be crucial.

Without a doubt the inspiring stories were from the people of Mull who are desperate to continue to make their local community the best it can be for their families, future generations and the community as a whole. This has inspired us to make sure that the implementation of the NIP and ICIA is done in the true spirit it is intended and be as meaningful and effective as possible

Thanks to everyone we met for their warm welcome and insightful discussion which made it a very memorable trip. So with that, it was back to Oban,  Inverness and Orkney respectively, cue more stunning scenery and running for Don’s weary legs.

For more updates on the progress of the implementation of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018  and see some pictures from our trip to Mull you can follow us at the Islands team Twitter account @IslandsTeamSG.