South Islay Development Covid Response
Since the end of March 2020, the role of South Islay Development has been entirely diverted into coordinating the day to day response to the COVID-19 pandemic on the Isle of Islay in the southern Hebrides.
Prior to COVID-19, South Islay Development’s (SID) focus of work was delivering community benefit in the area of the south of the island, with a population of roughly 1000.
In March, it urgently became apparent that there was a rapid need to expand SID’s geographic area to cover the entire island of Islay with a population of 3228.
The Islay Resilience and Support project was formed as a response to the pandemic, and is a collaboration of charities, volunteers, and community groups on the island, with SID as the lead accountable body. The SID’s role in terms of community communication, financial management, and administration has increased tenfold during the last two months and will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.
Over the past 14 weeks of Covid-19 response, local networks have coordinated the delivery of welfare boxes, newsletters, volunteers and funds to support their communities. Islay Resilience Group and SID have been able to tap into existing networks to communicate and meet the needs of local people.
Island businesses both small and large have connected with their communities, adapting to the new norm by offering delivery services, online or telephone ordering, and the new social distancing practices which have had to be put in place. The dedication they have shown to their communities is rewarded by the community using their local business to purchase goods.
Islanders have been remarkably resilient in the face of lockdown, but have embraced these challenges and continue to adapt as they move forward into Islay’s Recovery.
Funding and Welfare Activities
Grant funds have been received to support the island community directly, however no funding for staffing has been included. SID is responsible for the co-ordination of many elements of the project including the delivery of two hot meals a week to over 200 vulnerable and shielding individuals. Food is prepared by 4 restaurants/hotels and delivered through a network of over 40 volunteers.
A local resident commented ‘Having been in my house for the past 5 weeks; seeing nobody and feeling a little drained and sad, the meals on wheels delivery totally brightened my day – saying hi to my volunteer and sitting down to someone else’s cooking really lifted my spirits.
In addition, the Islay Family Welfare Box initiative has been set up by Dunlossit and Islay Community Trust for those isolating or experiencing hardship due to the impact of COVID-19. This is coordinated and delivered on a need basis weekly, and SID is working closely with partners to distribute to the community.
SID is responsible for assisting to coordinate the shopping/prescription/befriending service in South Islay which is delivered daily through a network of over 50 volunteers to 48 households. SID and Chit Chat are instrumental in helping the 5 local coordinators in Port Charlotte, Gruinart, Bruichladdich, Ballygrant, and Bowmore.
A very familiar sight on Islay has been Dougie McFadzean, burning rubber in his trusty 16-year-old Co-Op van. He has travelled 1800 miles, the equivalent of driving to Naples in Italy, made sure 504 home deliveries have been dropped off to 400 households in isolation.
– Ileach Newspaper
A newsletter has also been distributed by the Islay Resilience and Support Group, to make all households aware of the support available, from hot meals, to befriending calls, to financial support for community organisations. Download a copy here.
Islay Covid-19 Funds
The Islay Covid-19 Fund has been made possible through the kind donations made locally by businesses and the Islay community, and from the wider world via the Go Fund Me page and access to national funding. This fund will allow small charities or unconstituted groups to access funding for projects which will benefit the community in the short term.
The Covid-19 Fund was established in order to distribute funds from £250 to £2000 directly and quickly to local groups and organisations on Islay dealing with a range of issues which have been highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis. All applications are looked at individually by a panel and assessed quickly. Over the past two months over £4,000 has been allocated to several different local groups, each dealing with unique sets of issues.
As groups/organisations start to evaluate their services and work out how they can continue with social distancing when they open their doors, SID are encouraging local groups and organisations to get in touch and apply for funding to enable them to continue their excellent services all over the island. Here are some of the projects that have benefited from funds in the community so far and how those funds have been used:
Islay & Jura Youth Action
‘This project will help to create a watertight digital platform for IJYA to engage with young people in isolation or perhaps shielding long term. If we can help them come together and contribute to their own solutions to combat loneliness and feelings of isolation, we can also contribute to maximising the positive impact of our online youth work and help alleviate any impact on mental health. Our role is to facilitate and support young people to take the lead in a COVID19 world.’
Port Ellen Mother & Toddler Group
Port Ellen Toddlers would like to organise “lockdown craft bags”. With children being at home all day, these supplies will give parents support on being able to do additional activities to keep them entertained without the pressure of being able to afford such arts and craft supplies.
The Ileach Newspaper
To continue publication of the local Ileach newspaper to keep the community informed throughout the current Covid-19 crisis. Read an article from the Ileach paper about the Islay Resilience group here.
Islay & Jura Bumps to Birth
A box specifically for babies and post-natal mums. Items include nappies, baby wipes, post-natal toiletries, and a gift for baby and mum. Having a baby is a precious time and not being able to share that with extended family can be extremely difficult. Not only will the provisions be a welcome addition to an already financially difficult situation brought about by Covid-19, but it is hoped the box will bring a little bit of happiness and comfort to the new mum.
Bridgend Bowling Club
‘Our income has been drastically reduced for 2020, but virtually all our costs are fixed, and arise irrespective of whether we can play on the green, attract visitors etc or not. This money will help see the club through a particularly tough time.’
Islay High School PTA
To assist pupils who are experiencing mental health issues; either caused or exacerbated by Covid-19. We would ideally like to be able to offer access to online counselling programs. As the situation changes daily we would choose options that were most appropriate for the time. This could involve procuring external professionals to help the pupils e.g. online counselling/online workshops/additional online classes/educational psychologist support and by looking into providing internet solutions for pupils home learning such as boosters and dongles, or allocated “home learning hotspots”
If you think you and your organisation could benefit from the fund please contact Alyson MacGillivray at the SID Office, T: 300 579 or E: [email protected] for an application form or to discuss your project in more detail.