Moray is an area that lies in the North East of Scotland. Work in Moray took place during stage two of the Rural Wisdom project from 2019 to 2021. Rural Wisdom Moray was most active in Burghead, Hopeman and Duffus, the coastal communities north of Elgin. People in Moray asked to be part of the Rural Wisdom project as a way of taking forward ideas that people had been developing over the past few years. Locals had taken part in Rural Wisdom workshops, used publications and resources, and found ideas from other places helpful, and wanted to be part of this wider partnership. The geographic scope of Rural Wisdom grew further as people in Moray raised issues that affected more people nearby. One of the impacts of Covid-19 was that more connections were made with people and community groups in Aberdeenshire as part of the work taking place in and around Moray.
How it all began
In June 2019 we started to work with the communities along the Moray Coast in collaboration with other local groups, local authority and community services, talking to as many people as possible about what worked well in their rural communities and what could be improved to make a real impact on their day-to-day lives. The most prevalent reaction was that to make things work for older people they needed to work for people of all ages.
Many locals raised several inter-related issues related to housing, the most pressing of which is fuel poverty. Additionally, providing support with transport and access to community spaces were equally pressing matters of importance to locals. Moreover, given the impact of Covid19, focus was also on connecting people during a time of increased isolation and ensuring that everyone had the essentials they needed.
Hot meals provision
Momentum was gained for several initiatives during the Covid19 lockdown in 2020, including a hugely successful hot meal provision that offered vital to support to those who were isolating during this period. Further work was done via an intergenerational lunch club run from the local primary school as part of a wider bid to promote healthy eating for all.
A small Community Bus service was created and then extended as part of a lift sharing initiative called Take Me Too which helped local people get around and access vital services, support and activities in the area. This was actioned by an energetic bus committee made up of Moray Council, tsiMoray, Rural Wisdom and local people, all committed to connecting communities physically, socially and intergenerationally.
Energy and fuel
A survey on the issue of energy and fuel received an overwhelming response and provided vital information that was shared at conferences and during conversations with Home Energy Scotland and local MSP Richard Lochead. An Energy Advice Event was also set up to assist locals with the information necessary to access support. A number of innovative solutions to this problem have been applied, including the creation of a Development Trust working towards funding that will instal solar panels to create a virtual power station in the area.
Opening up community spaces
In Cummingston there was a plan to take over the public toilet building at the beach via a lease or Community Asset Transfer. There was a real need for a community space in Cummingston as there was no public space at all and members of the community were keen to address this. Similarly, Hopeman had an unused library and school building that many would love to see used so Rural Wisdom is exploring what can be done with this resource.
What we achieved
Much was done in the immediate aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic to provide hands on support for those in the local community and to combat the isolation of this period. Moreover, by involving hundreds of local people in the issue of fuel poverty and collaborating with groups and organisations who can provide support for innovative solutions, much has been done to work towards long term solutions that will work for the entire area.
To find out more about the work of Rural Wisdom across Scotland and Wales, check out our Blog page or contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.