Local solution is key

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Research published this week highlights that ‘thinking, resourcing and acting local’ is the key to enabling recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 in rural communities across Scotland.

And that could not be further from the truth on Arran where the Arran Recovery Group – an umbrella group of island organisations and bodies – is trying to plough a difficult furrow of pleasing all of the people all of the time.

Likewise too the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee is fighting for extra capacity on the ferries not just to get visitors here but to allow islanders to get off and get on with pursuits on the mainland.

But the research, produced by Scottish Rural Action who are a non-profit, apolitical organisation which is completely independent of government, throws up concerns in other areas.

They found there were particular groups of people in rural communities whose needs appear not to be being met, in particular younger people, people with mental health challenges and those with dementia.

There was  widespread concern about long-term economic damage and financial hardship in rural areas.

And they found ‘positives’ associated with lockdown should be safeguarded and built upon to safeguard rural resilience and inform steps towards a wellbeing economy.

As Vanessa Halhead, acting chair of Scottish Rural Action, said ‘Rural areas must be resourced, empowered and trusted in developing and delivering the recovery planning that best suits the needs of their local area. There has never been a more important time for government to devolve responsibility and resource to communities.’

We couldn’t agree more.