by Fi Thomson

Rural Wisdom is working to make rural communities work well for people as we get older and for other people who live there. It started working in Moray in 2019 and I was lucky enough to be appointed as Community Worker.

Moray covers one of the most beautiful areas in the country – with some stunning beaches to spend spare lunch time moments on.  

Many issues have bubbled up over the last three months, such as transport, housing and fuel poverty, but also many strengths such as the desire to set up a Development Trust with a renewable energy remit and strong well-attended community councils.

I have been struck by the independence and care of the towns.

The owner of the local Costcutter, after hearing some of the concerns at a local community association meeting,  decided to formalise his delivery service and revive the local newsletter, ‘nae excuse’, hopefully the Post Office will join suit as they stock homemade ready-meals which might go some way to replacing meals on wheels -a big miss in Hopeman. Another great little shop is the Footprints Gallery down at the harbour. It sells local art and craft but also coffee teas and ice cream. On any given day, you will find a group of men who are welcomed by the manager to sit on the bench outside the shop, newsing – they drift down during the morning hoping to catch friends – watch the boats in and out of the harbour – and see who’s visiting Hopeman. As the afternoon draws on they start the climb back up the hill to home – sometimes they get a lift and sometimes they don’t!

Small shops like these provide a great service to towns as well as providing goods that are not a least two bus rides away. Often the shopkeepers go above and beyond to be there in times of need or just a day-to-day place to catch up and see what is happening in the community. The delivery service they are developing will make life easier for those who need their shopping brought to them but also relieve some loneliness and isolation!

Plans for the next few months involve helping Burghead learn about energy-saving in an off-mains-gas area with REAP (Rural Environmental Action Project)  and working on a community resilience event in Hopeman.

I am also looking forward to Duffus and Hopeman Be Active Long Life (BALL) groups. Very soon, I hope to be using the Burghead library as a base on Tuesday afternoons so I can be found and used.

Now did I mention those beaches…