Over 70 rural and island representatives across Scotland gathered online and in Birnam on Tuesday the 8th of November to discuss actions to support Scotland’s rural movement. We were pleased to organise the event along with Scottish Rural Network, SRUC and the Scottish Government and to have such brilliant attendance and input.
The day began with an introduction from the facilitator, Willy Roe, who drew upon the recent research conducted by SRUC and Newcastle University on rural movements across Europe and how Scotland might learn from these processes. We then heard from Ms. Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary of Rural Affairs and Islands, who spoke of the importance of local networking and solutions to tackle both the challenges and opportunities ahead. The video of Ms. Gougeon's speech can be viewed here. We then heard from three speakers: Naomi Macdonald of the Young Islanders Network, Jane Atterton on the launch of the citizen-science portal the Rural Exchange, and Jim Hume of the National Rural Mental Health Forum. Each presentation highlighted the many collaborations taking place across Scotland and how the rural movement is already being strengthened. We then broke into workshops to discuss particular topics, before re-joining together over a networking lunch, and then onto more workshops in the form of a 'world café' in the afternoon.
We found it a very insightful event and we wanted to thank all of those who attended, both online and in person, the technical team, Birnam Arts Centre, the Scottish Rural Network for their funding, and all facilitators and contributors on the day. We were reminded of the joy of meeting with folk after a few years without and the ever-present enthusiasm for rural and island Scotland.
Please see below the day's report, which is a narrative of our discussions as well as an outline of the next steps in the engagement process in strengthening the rural movement in Scotland.