The Scottish Government has identified four key contributing risk factors – transportation, housing, public spaces and digital technology – and community groups the length and breadth of the country are working to address these and more.

Here are just a few inspiring examples going on in our own communities:

Photo courtesy of Appin Community Development Trust


Appin’s community transport scheme is dedicated to help those less able to get out and about for themselves to maintain their independence by taking them to and from the shops and supermarket, GP and hospital appointments, and – just as importantly – social gatherings.

‘If you can’t get out, you’re very isolated and lonely in this part of the world,’ said Penny Cousins, the chief fundraiser for Appin Community Development Trust, which set up the service in the absence of accessible public transport.

‘It is run as a membership scheme for frail, elderly and vulnerable people so they can carry on living at home and don’t have to go into institutional care.’

A helping hand

Operated by a pool of volunteer drivers, as well as a part-time coordinator, the community ‘bus’– a converted Volkswagen Sharan with space for a wheelchair and four passengers – has proved hugely popular.

As well as regular outings close-by, it also makes longer journeys to Oban or Fort William and hospital runs, often standing in for the Scottish ambulance service and transporting people as far as Glasgow if necessary. All of which costs money to operate – more than the modest fares asked of customers.

Amongst the local businesses and organisations happy to lend their support was Scottish Sea Farms, who responded with a donation of £10,000.

‘The company is well known in the area and we are all very grateful for their support,’ said Penny, whose husband used to work for Scottish Sea Farms.

The difference made

The Covid pandemic has been a big setback, with social distancing measures allowing only one passenger per trip, making the service temporarily unviable.

‘We had just got it so that every trip was full, which made such a difference in terms of financing it,’ said Cousins.

‘It was working well and everybody was enjoying it. It costs £25 to get to Oban in a taxi so these people can’t afford it.

‘They have really been missing it, they can’t get to the shops, but we hope to have it back on the road soon.’

If you would like to learn more about, or donate to, Appin Community Transport, click here.

Photo courtesy of Sanday Community Craft Hub


Sanday may have a population of under 500 and be remote even by Orkney standards, but it certainly punches above its weight in the craft scene.

It all began as a sociable knitting circle initiated by Tracy Ranger. ‘I’ve always enjoyed crafts and knitting and I got together with a group of about six to knit, crochet and chat,’ said Tracy.

‘A few more joined who wanted to learn the skills and it became apparent that there were quite a lot of folk on Sanday making things.

‘We decided to try to sell the local crafts and use the money to buy more wool. We didn’t have anywhere to go to start with and we didn’t know if it was going to work, we had to make it up as we went along.’

One of the outhouses on Tracy’s farm was turned into a pop-up shop, with people contributing everything from jewellery to photography, knitwear and ceramics – the only stipulation being that it was made on Sanday.

Very soon, the local crafters were keen to expand into a dedicated craft room of their own.

A helping hand

Applying for a grant from via Scottish Sea Farms’ Heart of the Community Fund, the group secured £3,322 support.

The money has been used to transform a backroom in the Bank House community centre in Kettletoft into a showcase for the club’s handmade goods as well as a base for craft workshops.

The difference made

Now the club’s plan is to teach even more people their craft making skills and provide a more permanent shop window for the island’s talented craftsmen and women.

With a further £2,000 from the North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme, the crafters will be able to keep traditional skills alive in the isles, said Tracy.

If you would like to learn more about, or donate to, the Sanday Community Craft Hub, click here.

Photo courtesy of South Ronaldsay Film Club


The Screen on the Square in St Margaret’s Hope might be modest compared to other film venues, but it is one of the main social attractions of South Ronaldsay, Orkney.

Despite the popularity of the local film club – held every month in the village hall in Cromarty Square – the technology could sometimes be a disappointment with a blurred picture, muffled sound and even the DVD player breaking half-way through a screening blurring.

A helping hand

Having decided enough was enough, the club found out about the Heart of the Community fund through Voluntary Action Orkney, after unsuccessfully applying for Lottery funding.

Securing £5,000 from Scottish Sea Farms, the club was able to upgrade its equipment and enable even more people to enjoy its film choices, which have ranged from the war film ‘2017’ to ‘Singing in the Rain’.

First on the shopping list was a new projector and lens with LED lighting.

‘We won’t need a bulb in the new projector,’ said club organiser Helen Butcher, ‘which is good because every now and then the bulb would go in the old projector and it had to be changed in the middle of a film.

‘We will also get a surround sound system – at the moment we’ve only got stereo so the sound gets crammed into the two speakers and it creates a muffling effect.

‘And we’re planning to replace the screen which is from the 1940s! it’s an amazing old thing that rolls down and absorbs a lot of the image so the picture is quite dull as well.’

The difference made

The hall, built at the turn of the last century, seats up to 100 people but around 30 regularly attend the film nights, and take turns choosing what to watch from supplier Moviola.

‘It’s a very sociable club and we missed it desperately during Covid, when there was nothing going on at all. The nearest cinema is in Kirkwall, which is 13 miles away.’

‘We want to thank Scottish Sea Farms for selecting us, we’re really chuffed. Our audience are very long suffering and it will be wonderful to give them an experience where they can actually see and hear clearly.’

Photo courtesy of Ethel Johnston


The village hall in Appin has been a feature of community life for generations, playing a role in most major events in the village, from agricultural show ceilidhs to amateur dramatic festivals.

But recently, anyone using the premises has had to negotiate buckets strategically placed to catch rainwater as the roof has fallen into a state of disrepair.

A helping hand

Fund-raising for a new roof was halted during the pandemic but now there is hope it will be fully restored, thanks to financial and in-kind donations of building materials from local employers and businesses.

Included amongst the support received is a £10,000 grant from Scottish Sea Farms’ Heart of the Community Fund.

Committee member Kathy King, who returned to Appin following her retirement, said they hoped to have a new roof in place by winter 2021.

‘I was born and brought up in the village in the 1950s and the hall was always here,’ she said. ‘In a normal year, it’s in constant use for all sorts of things, from children’s parties to wedding receptions and gatherings after funerals – it’s right next door to the church.

‘In recent years it has expanded to accommodate training courses and a craft fair too.’

The difference made

‘The hall is very much the hub of the community,’ said Kathy, ‘providing a venue for social, cultural and educational activities. But the roof has been in a poor state for some time and will cost around £50,000 to replace.’

With £15,000 left to raise the committee are getting closer to their total.

‘It’s wonderful to have the support from Scottish Sea Farms. It’s a good cause and, hopefully, will ensure the hall is here for another generation.’