Delegates from all over Rural Scotland gathered at New Lanark World Heritage Site for our Biannual Rural Conference held on 26th and 27th February. This inspirational venue, symbolic of the changing face of rural Scotland played host to over two hundred delegates and participants over two days in February.
In planning this event we recognised that there was a need now, more than ever, to influence the Scottish Government’s response to rural challenges, and our inspiring and engaging conference programme reflected this.
We designed a programme that was packed with inspiration, vision and experience. Our speakers included Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Robin McAlpine of Common Weal on the Green New Deal, Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Alliance on the Rural Economy and Inclusive Growth, Camille Dressler, Scottish Islands Federation on the impact of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Niall McShannon, Managing Director of Clydesdale Community Initiatives on why he started a social enterprise, who it’s for and why they bought a farm! You can view the presentation slides on the links below:
A warm welcome from South Lanarkshire Council was offered by Kenny Lean, Rural Regeneration Manager when addressing delegates on the success of Lanarkshire Leader in his opening address and was supported by the Provost, Councillor Ian McAllan in his speech at the Gala Dinner.
Delegates had the opportunity to take part in one of four visits to inspirational local organisations and on which the feedback from all was positive and heartfelt:
- Castlebank Park and Horticultural Centre – Local volunteers have worked since 2012 to reclaim a dilapidated site that is now a lovely park with a café and has recently started horticultural training programmes on site.
- Clydesdale Community Initiative – CCI is a social enterprise that supports individuals to improve their health and well-being and increase their skills and confidence.
- Rural Development Trust – RDT provides amongst other things a community centred transport project focussing on Rural Communities. The enterprise is expanding into electric buses.
- New Lanark WHS – New Lanark World Heritage Site is one of only 6 UNESCO sites in Scotland and is a unique 18th-century mill village. See how villagers lived, learned and worked.
Delegates participated fully in our workshops facilitated by Vanessa Halhead SRA, soil scientist Janet Moxley, community development expert Kirsten Robb and Theona Morrison of Community Development Lens. The workshops focused on the challenges and opportunities facing rural Scotland during this period of change. Click on the links to download the report from each workshop:
- how rural communities can help address climate change
- practical measures to repopulate rural Scotland
- the urgent issue of funding
- the need for, and challenges of, developing a rural movement.
Vanessa Halhead Acting Chair commented:
“The conference setting was deliberately chosen as we can still learn from rural Scotland’s industrial past. We were really pleased with the numbers attending and the contribution from the floor in the plenaries and workshops. We have a wealth of information that is now online. The information received over the two days will be instrumental in helping us to move forward our agenda with Scottish Government and other key partners.
“In my concluding remarks I was keen to stress that this was the start of a process and that for it to work we need your involvement and input moving forward. The conference was the launchpad for our ‘rural movement’. Rural Scotland’s voice needs to be heard, and the Scottish Government has tasked us with making that happen. We need your input and I would urge all members of Scottish Rural Action, community organisations and partner organisations to get involved and feed into this process.”