Skye Community Response service goes live

A new initiative known as Skye Community Response has launched today (Friday (27th March) which will provide a central database for people in Skye and Raasay to access essential services amid the ongoing coronavirus emergency.

Skye Community Response comprises a team that draws on volunteers and groups across the island to help those in need across Skye and Raasay in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The response team takes calls and emails from the public and directs them to the relevant, information, organisations or volunteers that can assist them.

Members of the Portree and Braes Community Trust, local councillors and
community representatives held a meeting in Portree on Monday to discuss
plans for the initiative prior to its launch this week.

Over the past week, in response to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Highlands, the Portree and Braes Community Trust have been working on the development of a service which will reduce the impact on other local and regional support services and utilise the strong networks which already exist in communities across the island to connect individuals, businesses and health care providers to volunteers and other resources.

A meeting was held in Portree on Monday ahead of the establishment of Skye Community Response.

Portree and Braes Community Trust development officer Fiona Thomson, who video-called into Monday’s meeting, told the Free Press: “We know
that many communities and associated trusts have already developed support initiatives in response to recent events and have strong systems in place to provide services such as prescription pick-ups and food deliveries, for example, and help with dog walking. If you are aware of a local initiative, we would encourage you to continue to make contact with them directly.

We will be working with a representative from each group, whether that be a community trust member, a community council member or an individual to coordinate local efforts.

“We would recommend the helpline – 01470 373111 – for isolated residents of Portree and Braes and for anyone across Skye and Raasay who don’t have access to local support or advice. We are also aware that those involved in volunteer-led groups across the island may become ill or have to self-isolate and we want to provide a central point where up to date information can be accessed if there are changes to the support on offer at a community level. “

To promote the helpline, the Skye Community Response team have launched a website and will be distributing leaflets across Skye and Raasay.

Members of the trust have been working closely with the Skye and
Lochalsh Council of Voluntary Organisations who are offering a regular
community call service. Through the community call service, people can
receive a check-in call every day or every three days to see if they are okay
or require help to get food, prescriptions or fuel.

The trust is also working with the local co-op management team to look at how they could put systems in place to provide a telephone ordering service and will help them coordinate volunteers if required. The trust is also liaising with local charity Lucky2BHere and local NHS staff to identify what equipment or other resources they may need in a worst-case scenario and if the community can help to provide them.

Ms Thomson said: “We’re seeing that there is a significant number of people
who want to come forward to volunteer across the island.

“Good communication between the residents of Skye and Raasay, existing and emerging community groups and initiatives, Highland Council and other agencies such as the Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations is going to be essential going forward to ensure that anyone who requires one-off or regular support over the next few weeks and months will have access to it.”

Skye Councillor John Gordon said: “The communities’ response has been
overwhelming, with so many wanting to help and support their neighbours and communities at this time. There has been much planning and a close working together with so many groups who want to make sure people are cared for and supported during the coronavirus outbreak so all have access to support, advice and practical help.

“The strategic planning with Highland Council, SLCVO and Portree and Braes Community Trust in developing Skye Community Response shows that we are all in this together, and together we will meet the needs of all residents in Skye and Raasay.”

Councillor John Finlayson added: “Highland Council officers are committed to working with all community groups’ but a Skye and Raasay-wide group made up of people with the necessary skills that are able to support other groups in a strategic way should make us all more resilient.

“My ward colleagues Calum Munro and John Gordon and I will continue to meet regularly via conference call or Skype to support the work of Skye Community Response and our own officers on the ground leading Highland
Council’s response to Covid-19.”

Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urqhart.

For more information and/or to volunteer, just click on the links below:

Skye Community Response website

SCR Facebook

SCR Twitter