Kyle & Lochalsh Development Trust
Kyle & Lochalsh Community Trust was supported by the Our Community Our Future programme to engage the wider community in developing an area of land known as the Plock for the general good of the community.
Kyle & Lochalsh Community Trust (KLCT) was established, originally as Kyle Development Group, in April 2010 in Portnacloich, Kyle of Lochalsh. KLCT was formed to address the continuous economic decline of the Kyle of Lochalsh area which has a population of 650 residents. Since the opening of the Skye Bridge in 1995, the Kyle of Lochalsh area has lost its role as a transport, trade and service location, which it formerly had as a ferry crossing point.
Over the years, community activity has become more disparate with residents distinctly aware of the reduced visitor numbers and the economic and social consequences to the area. Interested in bringing about a positive change, KLCT sought to encourage small local community groups to start working together more effectively, so that a common and shared vision of the developments in Kyle can be developed.
The aim of KLCT, therefore, is to regenerate the socio-economic potential of the area on the basis of a joined up approach and, potentially, by bringing local groups together under one umbrella organisation. It plans to develop a joint vision for regenerating the area and bringing the wider community together to halt the decline of the area.
The group received support from September 2010 onwards under the Our Community Our Future (OCOF) Programme delivered by Foundation Scotland (Formerly Scottish Community Foundation).
Growth and development
At the time support from Foundation Scotland was sought, KLCT was a recently formed interest group of nine members with a wide range of skills, experiences and connections with other organisations. KLCT applied for support to help the group focus their many ideas for developing the area, prepare a plan of how to implement their actions and to learn how to engage effectively with the wider community in Lochalsh.
The main aim of the OCOF support was:
- assisting the group in building its capacities, including formalising its structure
- engaging, consulting and involving the wider Kyle community in action planning
- increasing group linkages and fostering collaboration
There was a particular interest in establishing and improving linkages with other organisations that are active in the local area with the aim of linking local groups under one umbrella organisation. It was hoped that this would bring about increased efficiencies and synergies in regenerating the community and halting socio-economic decline in Kyle.
Distinctive assets for potential development included the harbour, the train station, and a rocky, redundant outcrop coastal area called the Plock (an area of land that is currently poorly used and maintained, but which could be a suitable first project to start regenerating the community).
OCOF support between 2010 and 2012 included face to face meetings, workshops, phonecalls and email. Support focused on advice on starting out, legal structures (KLCT was constituted as a Community Trust and limited company by guarantee with charitable status in August 2011), and consulting the community.
Further support has included the participation in a number of learning exchange events as part of the OCOF/Strengthening Communities Programme and the organisation of a visits to another, more experienced community group (Alness). This was a well organised and tailored visit facilitated by Foundation Scotland and KLCT benefited from this experience and brought back new ideas and inspiration.
Initial challenges included getting the development ideas across to the community and reassuring community members of the group's intentions. As in most communities, Kyle has different existing networks and affiliated groups, and there were different levels of support for the group's aims from different sections of the community.
In March 2013 KLCT successfully applied for £250,000 from the Big Lottery Community Spaces Scotland fund to regenerate the Plock of Kyle. Money will be used to create new paths,improve existing paths & increase opportunities for social & physical activities for the people of Kyle.
KLCT members feel that their engagement with the OCOF programme provided them with substantial learning and useful knowledge transfer. As part of the support delivered, the group embarked on an extensive community consultation programme incorporating a wide number of techniques and approaches which helped to successfully connect with the community and establish alliances.
Foundation Scotland also supported KLCT in establishing contacts with a number of other community groups elsewhere in Scotland that experienced similar development challenges in the past. The view of group members is that KLCT would not have come as far without this capacity building support, which was perceived as very stabilising and supportive.
Without the support we would not have been where we are today
A key milestone for KLCT was the Kyle Development Report which was commissioned using the small OCOF support grant. The report summarised the findings from the first community consultation or "conversation" as it was called in Kyle. The report also constituted a strategy for the group containing a socio-economic analysis of the area, a vision of the group and a presentation of its aims and objectives. This was followed by a further milestone of success: an approved funding application (Big Lottery Community Spaces worth £15k), which enabled the group to plan for the future implementation of key projects and ultimately helped lead to the larger Big Lottery grant above.
Lessons and learning
The support delivered as part of Our Communities Our Programme facilitated good progress for KLCT to start up, and at the same time has opened and identified even wider options and development opportunities for the group than they had at the start.
In this context a number of learning points have been made, including:
- community consultation is a recurring process. Once the initial process is completed, further consultation is needed regarding detailed project development etc. The development and up-keep of a facebook site was thought to be an effective tool in creating transparency and accessibility across the community.
- One of the key lessons learned by the group is that the community group development process is much more time intensive than KLCT had assumed at the outset. Even if groups are managed well, building relationships, establishing trust and developing project ideas all take time.
- The development of a clear action plan is regarded as essential in developing into an effective community group.
- Kyle & Lochalsh Community Trust's Facebook page.
- More about Our Communities Our Future and the wider Stronger Communities programme
- More case studies from the Stronger Communities programme
- More case studies on growing your community group
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