New Portree and Braes Trust project officer relishing Skye healthcare role

New Trust project support officer, Sophie Isaacson will provide administrative and communications support to the delivery of Sir Lewis Ritchie healthcare recommendations concerning the north of Skye.

The new Portree and Braes Community Trust project support officer has told the Free Press that her passion for healthcare and connection to island life were both key in her decision to move to Skye to aid the Ritchie Report process.

Sophie Isaacson, 28, began in her role as the new project support officer with the PBCT last week, with the remit of providing administrative and communications support to the delivery of Sir Lewis Ritchie healthcare recommendations concerning the north of Skye. Struan Community Trust, Edinbane Community Company and Dunvegan Community Trust have collaborated to jointly fund the post.

Having grown up on Tiree, Sophie moved from her home to join the ‘Oban Times’ in 2015 and went on to work as a community engagement officer with the Dunollie Preservation Trust.

However, being more accustomed to island life than living on the mainland, the allure of Skye proved too strong for her to resist. “I was brought up on Tiree and lived there until I was 25, so I am very much an islander,” Sophie said. “My background is working with community trusts, communities and in communications, and I have a real interest in and passion for mental health, healthcare in general and working for the good of the community, so it just seemed like everything came together,”

Sophie said that while working for the Dunollie Preservation Trust in Oban she established a weekly outdoor group which centred on mental health rehabilitation. “I set up the group about two years and that has just grown and grown,” she said. “Since then I have done some other training with i-act, which is a national organisation to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and that is something that I am going to keep on doing while I’m up here.”

In her role Sophie with work with Fiona McGeachan, who was recently appointed as the NHS Highland’s project worker for the Ritchie Report.

Describing what she expects of her new challenge, she said: “I think the role will involve communicating important bits of information and filtering it through to the community. It will also be about supporting the community stakeholders in the project to make sure they are having their voices heard. “Everyone I have met so far has been so helpful and really enthusiastic. It is really exciting to be part of a project which is innovative in its methods in that the community really has a voice and a lead in the way that things are shaped.”

Away from the rigours of her new endeavour, the Trust’s newest recruit has earmarked hillclimbing and prehistoric hunts as a few of the things on her to do list. “We are living up the north end of the island, so there are lots of hills and adventures I am looking forward to exploring,” Sophie said.

“I have a four-year-old boy, so he’s so excited about finding the dinosaurs. I am learning Gaelic – it was a wee bit of struggle where we were as there weren’t many people who spoke it – so I am really looking forward to improving my Gaelic, as well as ceilidhs and music too!”

Article by Adam Gordon and photographs by Willie Urquhart.