The Black Isle Partnership is the latest member of Scottish Rural Action and is a fantastic example of the capability of rural community organisations during the pandemic.
The Partnership was founded many years ago as an umbrella organisation to work for the interests of the Black Isle and promote the area as a place to visit, live and work. Working with community organisations and businesses, the Partnership has supported various projects over the years, including the establishment of the Black Isle Tourism Team to help co-ordinate appropriate promotion and management of tourism within the area and respond to the influx from the North Coast 500 Route.
At the start of the pandemic, the Black Isle Partnership took on the role of "anchor organization" for delivering the Scottish Government's Covid-19 response for communities on the Black Isle and secured funding for a temporary staff member. Coordinated by the Partnership, a community resilience strategy group was established, comprising all the community councils and the main strategic community organisations in the Black Isle. This group was able to coordinate the local response to the crisis and supported the community throughout lockdown. The group meets by Zoom weekly or bi-weekly enabling sharing of local information, identifying strategic priorities and co-ordinating resilience effort. A wide range of activities have been developed and supported through this, including meeting food needs by building well stocked food sheds in the villages, co-ordinating food deliveries and providing food vouchers for those facing hardship. The Partnership distributed Covid-19 funds to community organisations, helping with volunteer expenses and buying equipment such as fridges and distributed donated resources such as hand sanitiser, and supporting those at risk of isolation via digital inclusion by providing iPads and Chromebooks to adults and children most at need.
The Black Isle Partnership credit their success to the cross-sectoral involvement they had to the response and are actively looking for more organisations to become involved as permanent members of the Partnership as they move forward with their strategic planning for post-Covid recovery.