Scottish Rural Action
Scottish Rural Action aims to be a powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland.
We are a non-profit, apolitical organisation which is completely independent of Government.
We are a company formed with the dual purpose of developing and organising Scotland’s Rural Parliament and supporting the development of a rural movement. Our members elect our board of directors each year.
The objects of Scottish Rural Action are:
- To encourage and actively support the development of an inclusive and sustainable Scottish rural movement that is rooted in Scotland’s rural communities and empowers and connects them.
- To support the organisation of a Scottish Rural Parliament that meets with the purpose of giving a stronger, more coherent voice to Scotland’s rural communities and enabling them to engage more effectively with government at all levels.
- To support and promote the development of a Scottish rural movement and Parliament.
The creation of a Rural Parliament is a unique opportunity to enable a stronger, more coherent voice for Scotland’s rural communities. It is inspired by the successes of Rural Parliaments in other countries in Europe.
A successful Scottish Rural Parliament must be firmly rooted in Scotland’s rural communities, developed by and for the people who live and work in rural Scotland. We are supported, but independent of, Scottish Government.
Download our Memorandum of Association.
Approved Minutes of our AGM 6 March 2015.
Approved Minutes of our AGM 4 March 2016.
Draft Minutes of our AGM 9 December 2016.
What is a Rural Parliament?
A Rural Parliament is an event and a process that provides opportunities for people with an interest in rural communities to share ideas, consider issues and debate solutions. Rural Parliaments allow people and decision makers to work together on priority issues to develop new and creative solutions. They strengthen the voice of rural communities and help them to influence the decisions that affect them. Their success in Europe over the last 20 years has inspired us to initiate a Rural Parliament in Scotland.
When and where will it take place?
Rural Parliaments usually take place on a two year cycle, with the main Rural Parliament event taking place every second year and in a different location each time. In between the main events, there is a process of involvement and debate taking place in communities that helps to set the agenda for the next Rural Parliament.
The first national Rural Parliament took place on the 6th-8th November 2014 in Oban, and the second meeting of the Rural Parliament was held in Brechin, Angus from 6th-8th October 2016.
Can I be a member of the Scottish Rural Parliament?
You can become a member of Scottish Rural Action which is the body responsible for the Scottish Rural Parliament. More details are available here: Membership
Members can be national organisations, community organisations (those with a local or regional remit) or individuals. Associate membership is also available for public bodies, juniors (under 16) and others. It is free to become a member.
How do I become a Director of Scottish Rural Action?
How else can I get involved?
Why does Scotland need one?
By bringing people together from across rural Scotland we are creating a unique opportunity for them to collaborate and to speak collectively to decision makers. This gives a stronger voice in shaping policy and influencing major decisions which affect Scotland’s rural communities.
At the moment rural affairs tend to be dealt with according to the geographic area e.g. Highlands, or the public policy area e.g. health, they seem best to fit with. Bringing these geographic and policy areas together gives us a chance to have a fresh look at how we can develop creative solutions to the challenges that are common across rural Scotland.
The Rural Parliament is a form of participative democracy which brings people together on an interest basis and encourages detailed consideration of issues. This is complementary to representative democracy where people vote for a person or political party to represent them.
Rural Parliaments have been successful in other parts of Europe and there is now a European Rural Parliament which the Scottish Rural Parliament will be able to work with, giving rural Scotland a stronger voice at a European level too.
How do you know it will make any difference?
We know that Rural Parliaments have been successful in other parts of Europe. We know that the Scottish Government wants to listen and they are the primary funder of the project. However, it is up to us, as people who live in and have an interest in rural Scotland, to make the Rural Parliament successful by participating as fully as we are able to. To see the speeches and reports from the 2014 Scottish Rural Parliament click here: Rural Parliament 2014 and to see them from the 2016 Scottish Rural Parliament click here: Rural Parliament 2016
What is the role of the Scottish Government?
To support and listen to the Rural Parliament. They are the primary funder of the Rural Parliament this year and keen to see if this initiative, which has been so successful in other European countries, can benefit people here too. There was a good Ministerial presence at the event in Oban.
However the board of Directors are independent of Scottish Government and the Rural Parliament itself has no political affiliation. The Scottish Rural Parliament discussed issues chosen by the people living in rural Scotland and did not promote any viewpoint other than that agreed by the people of rural Scotland.
How many people live in rural Scotland?
Around one million people which is approximately 20% of the population of Scotland. Around 95% of the Scotland’s land mass is rural.
What is the Advisory Forum?
The Scottish Rural Parliament’s Advisory Forum is a collective of bodies with (predominantly) a national remit and are clear stakeholders in rural Scotland with a collective membership of thousands of rural citizens.
The remit of the Advisory Forum, as agreed by the Management Group is as follows:
- Provide advice and act as a sounding board to Scottish Rural Action on the implementation of the Rural Parliament
- Advise on specific interests and issues related to the Rural Parliament
- Ensure inclusivity and a broad spread of rural interests in the Rural Parliament process
- Provide connection and links into the relevant interest groups and stakeholders
- Build interest and assist in disseminating and gathering information to/ from rural stakeholders
- Support implementation in various ways through their own organisations and networks
- Contribute to the evaluation of the inaugural Rural Parliament
Click on the link for details of each of the Advisory Forum Members
Who SRA are
The Directors of Scottish Rural Action are elected by the membership each year to govern the organisation. They have a range of backgrounds and interests and our current board live as far apart as Dumfries & Galloway and Shetland!
– Amanda lives in the southernmost part of South Lanarkshire, in the Lowther Hills. She’s a member of the Lanarkshire LEADER Local Action Group and is Treasurer/Director at Wiston Lodge, a charity that supports children and young people. Amanda is passionate about rural affairs and the need for vibrant, sustainable rural communities, and is active in local broadband initiatives as well as local democracy and land reform. Amanda was involved in the first workshop in Edinburgh that sought ideas from others in the European Rural Movement and has attended both Scottish Rural Parliaments since, becoming Chair of Scottish Rural Action in February 2016.
– Sandy was born and brought up on Mull, trained as a boatbuilder and has worked in boatyards in Scotland and the South of England. He and his wife re-opened a successful village store and Post Office on Mull, which they ran for 25 years before selling in 2011. Heavily involved in community development for many years, he is convenor of Mull and Iona Development Trust, which has 15 employees and is chair of Development Trust Association Scotland, which now has 200 members. Sandy is also a director of the Scottish Islands Federation and a member of many local groups on Mull.
Sandy is the “Transport” Working Group Chair for Scottish Rural Action
– Vanessa has worked in rural community development in Scotland for over 25 years and managed many rural projects and organisations. She was a founder and manager of Highlands and Islands Forum, the first community based rural movement in Scotland, and worked for Rural Forum Scotland. She managed the EU funded (£750k) Duthchas initiative on sustainability of peripheral communities, the Moray Firth Partnership and the Rural Transfer Network – sharing policy and practice in rural development across the Nordic region and Scotland. She was rural development policy officer in SNH. For 7 years a community councillor and Highland rep. on the ASCC, she continues to be active locally as a director of 2 community development organisations and Chair of Highland Environmental Network. Her research on the rural movements of Europe lead in 2004 to the formation of the European Rural Community Alliance, of which she is a director, also to initiatives to promote a rural movement in Scotland and the first European Rural Parliament. Since 2011 she has worked with the Scottish Government and rural stakeholders to advise and develop the Scottish Rural Parliament.
– Rebecca is the Communications & Rural Affairs Manager for the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs (SAYFC). Scotland’s largest rural youth movement represents over 3500 members between 14 and 30 years of age and is member-led. Through her role she works to engage with stakeholder groups so young people have the opportunity to have their voice heard. This is through a range of streams such as committees, media/publicity coverage (on and offline) and knowledge transfer events. Additionally she is Scotland’s Open Farm Sunday Coordinator which is about raising awareness of food and farming through connecting the consumers with those producing our food; and sits on the judging panel for Lantras Landbased and Aquaculture Awards. She has a first honours degree in Events Management and prior to her role with SAYFC has worked on food and drink festivals, flower and gardening festivals and international conferences and meetings. She moved to Kinross-Shire in 2013 with her family where they run a livestock (beef cattle and sheep) farm . Prior to this she was living in England where she jointly ran the on-farm family retail business that incorporated a farm shop, butchery, deli, tearooms and educational centre. The calendar included regular events to raise money and awareness for local community and charity groups, something which she has continued in Scotland.
– Alison Macleod was born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, moved to Applecross, Wester Ross after graduating from Edinburgh University in 1983 and has lived there since. As well as bringing up a family of four sons, she has worked on a creel fishing boat, as a home-help, nursery auxiliary, barmaid and as an administrator on a submarine noise ranging base (she is not proud of that one but employment choices are very limited in remote rural areas). In 2006 she started working in community development, at first on Raasay, and in 2008 as a volunteer founder director of Applecross Community Company. Since 2011 she has been the local development officer for the Community Company, which owns and manages the local filling station, has installed a community broadband scheme and developed a recently completed hydro scheme, funded by selling shares through a Community Benefit Society.
Gordon was born in Perth and now lives in the very rural south-western Scottish Borders. Recently retired, for many years he has been heavily involved in the Ettrick and Yarrow communities as the Chair of the Community Council and Director of their Development Company. He knows that 21st century communications are essential to ensure sustainable rural communities and has previously applied for and managed a LEADER rural broadband improvement project in Ettrick. He is now a Project Board member for a large community broadband project in South Scotland and a very active member of the Borders LEADER LAG for the 2014-2020 period. Gordon is fully committed to supporting rural life, rural communities and the rural economy.
Anne lives in Mintlaw in the heart of rural Buchan in Aberdeenshire. She was brought up in Bannockburn, Stirlingshire and graduated from the University of Stirling in 1972. Her early career was at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen where she undertook research for her Ph.D. then a post-doctoral fellowship. She became interested in youth and community work in her twenties firstly as a volunteer and later as a paid part-time youth worker. This resulted in a change in career direction. She qualified as a Youth & Community worker in 1982 after a course at Northern College in Aberdeen. Since then she has worked in Community Learning, Community Development, and Education in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. From 1998 until 2002 she was an Education Officer in the Buchan Area. In July 2002, she became Aberdeenshire Council’s Community Learning Manager. She took early retirement from this post in June 2011. In 2012 she got a wee bit bored with retirement and took a part-time Development Worker post with The Garioch Partnership, supporting community groups in and around Inverurie. She did this for four years until July 2016. Anne is currently vice-chair of Mintlaw & District Community Council, treasurer of the Buchan Development Partnership, chairperson of the Book of Deer Project. She is a Board member of the North-East Scotland College and of Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action, and a member of YouthLink Scotland, the national youth work agency. She is also a member of Mintlaw 50+Walkers, Mintlaw Rural, and the Mintlaw gala committee. Anne remains as passionate about lifelong learning, empowered communities, youth work and young people now as she did in her twenties. She likes being busy!
Simon Brooke was born in London. He came to Scotland at the age of eight, and to Auchencairn in Galloway (where he still lives) at age eleven. He is a software engineer and entrepreneur who has led a number of small software start-ups. He was a founder trustee of Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, and has served on the board of Auchencairn Initiative. He has suffered from severe mental illness since childhood.
Simon has a long-standing interest in the remote rural economy, in issues of land ownership and use, and in particular in rural poverty and homelessness.
Dr Stephen Bird is a rural Scot both circumstance and by choice. He studied medicine at St Andrews and then served a short service medical commission with the Royal Navy where he was attached to the Royal Marines in Arbroath. After training as a GP in Tayside, he practiced in Fraserburgh, Arbroath and later throughout Tayside and Fife. He now works as a single handed GP on the Isle of South Uist (Outer Hebrides). He is married to Fiona for over thirty years, and they have 6 children-mostly boys. Stephen also spends time in Angus where he is committed to a rural Kirk and in season, when the weather permits, enjoys skiing at Glenshee.
Faith Harding has recently started studying Professional Writing at City of Glasgow College to learn how to write television and radio scripts, as well as to write for the media. She was involved heavily at the second Scottish Rural Parliament in Brechin, as a volunteer facilitator for the Arts & Culture workshop. Born in Doncaster, and relocated to the Isle of Bute aged 10, Faith was involved with the Bute Youth Forum, a sub branch of the area wide Argyll & Bute Youth Forum, designed to give young people more of a say of matters of importance to them, whilst organising events to assist with the local community. Faith is currently class representative at her college and has two-part time jobs, once of which she secured whilst at the Rural Parliament. Her specific interests are young people and the environment.
Mary Williams Edgar
Mary lives in the Braes of Glenlivet in the Cairngorms National Park. She is a director of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust and a board member for the Landscape Partnership tasked with delivering 3.6 million GBP worth of rural regeneration projects across the area. Her career has diversely veered from media work as a television programme director to sheep farming and running a guest house, with periodic but enthusiastic pauses to restore rural buildings. She has also founded an internet based company to provide well-paid, innovative work for rural women with caring responsibilities, now continuing this interest with a current project (Women on Large Forestry Machines) in partnership with the Scottish Forestry Contractors Association set to address a recognised skills shortage by providing training, skills development and career progression for women in the rural workplace. Mary is a longstanding lay member of the Employment Tribunal panel in Scotland.
Lee is originally from Angus and studied at both Dundee and Aberdeen University’s before getting into work. Starting out for a new Development Trust in Midlothian, Lee moved into the public sector, working for Angus Council for 7 years and has worked for the Cairngorms National Park Authority since 2013. Lee has an MSc in Sustainable Rural Development and has been able to use the knowledge gained throughout his working career, supplemented with experience of a variety of rural community development issues. Through Lee’s work, CNPA have been a strong supporter of Scottish Rural Action and the Rural Parliament, having been involved in all of the events so far. Lee splits his time between Carr-Bridge in Strathspey and Carnoustie in Angus.
Emma Cooper, National Coordinator
– Emma has been the Coordinator of the Scottish Rural Parliament since 2014. She has held senior management posts in the third sector for over ten years. Her specific interests are in land, health, education, democracy and economics. She is a resident on the Isle of Bute in Argyll where her partner runs a small business. Emma has a (very) smallholding and is actively involved in a number of local projects, including Rothesay Pavilion, ButeFest and Bute Community Land Company of which she is chair. Emma has a BSc in Applied Psychology and a Master in Public Administration and is a member of ACOSVO.
Francesca Harding, Administrator
– Francesca has been the Administrator of Scottish Rural Action since October 2014 and previously organised our local events. She has lived in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute for the last 8 years after moving from Yorkshire and now has a young son who has a passion for dinosaurs. Francesca is also involved in ButeFest a local music festival and is currently studying towards a BA (Honours) Business Management and Accounting degree.
Chris Kinloch, Admin & Press Officer
Chris joined Scottish Rural Parliament in July 2016 as Press & Admin Officer. He has lived on Bute for 25 out of 27 years, and is involved with lots of community work, with organisations on the Isle of Bute such as Tee In The Port, Light Up Bute, Port Gala Day and also Bute’s own local radio station, Bute Island Radio, where he is Technical Director and presents his own show on a Thursday. This year, Chris was involved with Butefest, and performed on 2 days at the event. In his spare time, he enjoys football, going to gigs and festivals, and spending time with family and friends.
Fiona Thompson, Volunteering & Campaigns Coordinator
Fiona joined the Scottish Rural Action team in February 2017. Fiona has been working in the field of community development for over ten years; with particular focus on adult learning, mental health campaigning and service delivery across Scotland but with particular focus on the Highlands and Islands. Fiona is a resident of Lochaber and has a keen interest in hill running and open water swimming when time allows a break from two small children.