“Why am I doing this blog?” I hear you ask. I felt by doing so that it will expand my knowledge of rural Scotland and find out more about what is really going on around us. Chances are those reading this will know the definition of rural Scotland better than myself, but we no doubt have a shared passion to protect and better the lives of those living in rural areas.
I joined Scottish Rural Action through the Community Jobs Scotland Scheme in July 2016 as Press & Admin Officer, something new for me to try after spending most of my working life in numerous customer service-related jobs working for “the man” to make them money and not myself, and not even having a chance to expand my horizons.
That’s exactly what working with Scottish Rural Action has allowed me to do; work as part of a small team but managing to achieve so much. It’s not all about cash bonuses, or a free taste of new products, sometimes exploring your surroundings and what goes on around you, can be the biggest bonus.
My understanding of ‘rural Scotland’ before was a place where farmers don’t get paid enough for milk, and where my phone signal was always awful. So much so, that the email to confirm my interview for my job with SRA took about 10 minutes to download on a 2G signal…3 lines of text, no images. As if the tension wasn’t unbearable enough. There is more – much more – to the challenges that face rural Scotland than this of course, as I learned very quickly over the first few weeks and months in post.
Coming from a rural area, and living in the same rural area for 25 out of 27 years, I found that a lot of the issues that were drawn to my attention I could relate to. The aforementioned mobile phone signal, but also transport, healthcare, tourism, business support, depopulation… I could go on. I always thought these issues were just ‘local’ to people on Bute, but would appear to be just as ‘local’ from Stranraer to Stromness.
Moving on, 7 months into my role, what has changed? My understanding of challenges faced by those living in rural areas, and just how vast rural Scotland really is. A week spent working in Brechin for the Scottish Rural Parliament in October. The week was not only the most enjoyable of my working life, but also the most educational. Being able to meet some very inspiring people, who were more than happy to share their stories.
Those are the people whose stories that I will be sharing over the next few weeks. Scottish Rural Action held their second Rural Innovators Awards in 2015-16, with the winning projects coming in categories that were based around the ‘Key Themes’ of the Rural Parliament in 2016. Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at some of the winning projects, and sharing with you their winning schemes and campaigns, why they wanted to make a difference, and what difference they have made to their own local communities.
They have both educated and inspired me, so I hope that they inspire you too. The first one will be coming out this Thursday, 23rd March – watch this space!