Area Committee pays tribute to everyone involved in the response to COVID-19 on the Isle of Skye and Raasay
Members of the Isle of Skye and Raasay Area Committee today thanked frontline workers, public and voluntary sector groups and the wider communities for their amazing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councillor John Gordon, Chair of the Isle of Skye and Raasay Area Committee, paid tribute to their work staying the area had “seen the very best of our communities,” during the coronavirus crisis.
Members at today’s meeting heard from Highland Council Ward Manager Willie MacKinnon on the Highland Council response, Stuart MacPherson from Highlands and Islands Enterprise on their funding support and input from Jo Ford, Chief Officer for Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations (SLVCO).
Portree High School became a distribution centre with food and supplies going out to those in need. Highland Council set up a COVID helpline with up to 30 staff operating. From 27 March they took over 5,800 calls and made 5,000 outward calls to shielded people.
There were ten local community hubs, many co-located with key worker hubs and were supported by Highland Council and High Life Highland staff. There was also a Distribution Hub which co-ordinated food deliveries from Inverness to regional hubs. And there was the Virtual Hub, which included the Shielding team who provided specific shielding support, enabling support to people via the Scottish Government. It also provided support and guidance to community hubs.
Portree Local Community Hub was set up to run five days a week (9am-5pm), core partners such as High Life Highland, a wide number of community groups and Highland Council services provided staffing and made deliveries.
All Community Council areas of Eilean a Cheo were responded to either by community groups or the hub. Food deliveries included direct delivery, shopping for vulnerable people, arranging and encouraging the use of Click and Collect and sign posting to foodbanks and community larders.
Cllr John Gordon said: “We all know locally that community groups have worked tirelessly for our communities and it doesn’t go unnoticed. We have seen the very best of our communities over this pandemic.
“Everybody has made a huge difference to the lives of the residents of Skye, Raasay and the wider community of Lochalsh. I think we have all seen the stories of the impact the community groups and funding has had on particularly those who were shielding, but also to the businesses and the wider community.”
He added: “The response during COVID has been incredible. Pop up groups have started up and we have seen the hard work of the wider Skye Community Response Group. All groups have worked tirelessly for Skye and Lochalsh. We’ve seen great work, not only in the public and voluntary sectors, but from friends and neighbours who have been looking out for one another in a new and meaningful way. I think that sense of community has been embedded again.”
On behalf of Area Committee members Cllr Gordon also thanked all the frontline staff, such as NHS, shop workers and delivery drivers for helping to keep the area moving forward.
He added: “Locally we had one of the largest clusters of COVID in a care home (Home Farm) and we are indebted to the frontline staff for their work. Despite the circumstances they were in, they still came to work to care for residents and provided support for their families too.”
HIE supported the local response to the tune of £165,000 across eight main community organisations on the Isle of Skye and Raasay.
Jo Ford, Chief Officer, Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations highlighted that the communities had raised £70,000 through a GoFundMe online appeal. She also estimated there were 195 groups in operation in Skye, however, around 45% of these ceased services due to covid-19, 36% modified services and 19% completely changed what they do.