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April 7, 2020

Spreading the wealth

Whether it has come about from years of hard slog (which, to bring a renewable energy project to financial close, it invariably is) or simply from living nearby a private windfarm development and being in receipt of annual community benefit payments, the fact nonetheless remains – some communities have been enjoying unprecedented levels of unrestricted income. Recognising it’s a bit of a taboo to talk about wealth, particularly the wealth of others, nonetheless at a time of such stark inequality it seems odd not to raise the issue.  The recent actions of Point and Sandwick Trust have to be welcomed.  


Point and Sandwick Trust

Point and Sandwick Trust has announced we will use all our free cash for this year to set up a pandemic support fund for the local community.

The former MP for the Western Isles, Calum Macdonald, who is also development manager for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “The Point and Sandwick Trust Board have decided to devote all the income that isn’t already committed to key local organisations like Bethesda to support the community effort we are going to need to get through the pandemic.

“We are very lucky that there have been no reported infections in the island as yet and we pray that it remains that way. But whatever happens, we will have to pull together to help each other and also to help the fantastic health and care workers we have in these islands to tackle this virus.

“That is why the Board have decided to use all its spare income in 2020, or to the end of the emergency, to set up a Pandemic Community Fund. We will have discussions with local organisations including Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Western Isles to work out how the fund can best be used. We also hope to have discussions with other funding partners and intend to support work being done locally by Point, Sandwick and Stornoway Community Councils and others.

“The full impact of the pandemic in those countries worst affected has been traumatic. We have to be ready for it coming here, when it will be all hands to the deck.”

Community Council chairs welcomed the announcement of the emergency fund.

Bob Walker, chair of Sandwick Community Council, said: “Never since the end of World War Two has our island and nation seen such potential devastation to our society and we must all come together and support and help one another.”

Chris Tom Mackenzie, chair of Point Community Council, said: “With services already stretched and struggling this will provide a much-needed lifeline to many in our community during this difficult time for our island. I would hope that this will also encourage other organisations to also help their communities where they can.”

Joan Muir, chair of Stornoway Community Council, said: “Although there have been no confirmed cases in our community there are many affected by the current crisis. By working together, supporting each other in a co-ordinated response we can help our community get through this unprecedented situation.”