A new initiative, titled Cruinnich (‘to gather’), was launched this week across the Western Isles, with the aim of promoting social connection and supporting local communities this winter.

Community groups and churches, in partnership with Third Sector Interface Western Isles and local MSP Alasdair Allan, have been collaborating to establish a network of welcoming community spaces where local people can attend regular activities and events this winter.

Plans include weekly soup lunches, craft sessions, film nights, boardgames afternoons, exercise classes, music sessions, social clubs and community cafés.

Commenting on the project’s launch, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, said:

“The impact of the cost-of-living crisis, with regards to fuel poverty in particular, is unfortunately already being felt sharply by many in the islands. While this initiative will of course not fix the many challenges facing our islands at present, I hope that these opportunities to gather together will play some small part in ensuring people are supported and can maintain and build connections within their own communities in the months ahead.

“Many people are struggling, with services feeling the strain, and volunteer fatigue increasing given how much time and energy volunteers have contributed throughout the pandemic and beyond.

“However, I have been very encouraged by the enthusiasm and commitment of all those involved in the Cruinnich project who are keen to do all they can to support members of their local community over the months ahead. If your organisation would like to be a part of Cruinnich, please get in touch – and if anyone would like to volunteer as an individual, I would advise you to contact your local venue directly.”

The Chair of the Third Sector Hebrides Western Isles (TSIWI), Eoin MacNeil, stated:

“It is incredible to see just how third sector organisations and volunteers are responding to this cost-of-living crisis following all the support they provided during the COVID pandemic. The TSIWI are working with third sector organisations and community groups throughout the Western Isles to provide as much advice and co-ordination as possible.”

In Clachan, in North Uist, a community ceilidh is being held every Friday afternoon from 1pm. Alastair Banks, Session Clerk of Carinish Church of Scotland said:

"We are very happy to be playing a part with so many other local groups in providing a place for people to meet to socialise and have some food in a warm and inviting space. These are challenging times and we are privileged to be able use our church hall as a place of warmth and welcome.

“We are really grateful for the coordination and support that has been provided by Dr Alasdair Allan MSP and his team and, locally, by the staff of Uist Council of Voluntary Organisations."

The full list of participating venues can be viewed here: www.alasdairallan.scot/cruinnich

For details on events running at your local venues, check the organisations’ websites or get in touch with the local TSI contact, whose details are included in the list of participating groups.


Cruinnich - bringing communities together

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