Kyle of Sutherland Initiative

Community Consultation

The Group
Based in Bonar Bridge, the Kyle of Sutherland Initiative was formed to further the development of the villages in central Sutherland. This is an area of some 680 square miles with a population of around 2500, which faces population loss, low incomes, high unemployment and remoteness.  With members from three community councils and relevant agencies, the group was formed to address these problems by an integrated and proactive approach to community regeneration.  Previously, the group had carried out a postal survey on ideas for community development.

What were they trying to achieve?
The research consisted of a community consultation, using photographic methods.  It aimed to establish the needs and aspirations of the communities and provide a framework to address these through community involvement and realistic community-led projects.

How did they go about it?
The project was managed by a research mentor, project officer and a group of nine local volunteer researcher leaders.  The volunteers identified people from their village representing different groups in the population (e.g. retired, farmers, families) who were issued with cameras and invited to photograph things they like and did not like in their area.  In addition, public meetings were organised in which people used the photographs in a community mapping exercise.

What did they learn?
The results of the survey were built into the Kyle of Sutherland Visions 2008, which set out a series of strategic objectives:

  • Support existing businesses and services, and facilitate new business development
  • Improve local provision for tourism, with an emphasis on local heritage and activity based holidays
  • Ensure access to a range of leisure options which contribute postively to community health
  • Work together to reduce waste, increase recycling and get rid of litter
  • Facilitate a local facelift where key locations need tidied and maintained

The report recommended ongoing support and training for community activists in community development, funding and ICT.

What difference did it make?
A report based on the results and additional backgound informationw as circulated to relevant agencies.  Seven community led projects were developed as a result of the survey, including: painting of Bonar Bridge; a recycling programme; and development of a community website.

The aspiration is that the success of small scale community led projects will lead to further long-term community led development.

For further information see the community website