Support to further empower Scotland’s rural communities has been announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
Scottish Government funding of £200,000 has been allocated to help deliver the Scottish Rural Parliament Action Plan. Mr Lochhead made the announcement ahead of the Scottish Cabinet meeting in Oban, nine months after Scotland’s first Rural Parliament was held there.
Speaking on a visit to the Stramash outdoor social enterprise – which won an innovation award at the Rural Parliament - the Cabinet Secretary said:
“Scotland’s first Rural Parliament was hugely successful in giving rural communities a voice. The challenge now is to maintain that democratic momentum. Rural Parliaments in other countries have proven to be a catalyst for lasting change and I am keen to see a similarly dynamic and influential rural movement here in Scotland.
“That is why is the Scottish Government is providing £200,000 to support the delivery of the Scottish Rural Parliament Action Plan, which sets out the priority issues and solutions that have been identified by rural communities themselves. The Plan cannot be delivered by Government alone and so I am keen that it is supported as widely as possible.
“Of course, living in rural Scotland has many advantages as well as its challenges. Stramash is a great initiative that connects children and young people to the out-of-doors, helping them to make the most of all that rural Scotland has to offer.”
The Rural Parliament was delivered by Scottish Rural Action. Chair John Hutchison said:
“We appreciate the sound support that we have from the Scottish Government, through the Cabinet Secretary who readily understands what we are creating for our rural areas and is keen to ensure the support of the public sector. Delivery of our Action Plan, which arose from the inaugural meeting in Oban, is our main priority followed by planning our second Rural Parliament in late 2016. This funding gives us confidence to concentrate on these priorities for the foreseeable future.”
Niall Urquhart from Stramash said:
“Stramash is committed to making a real difference in the lives of the children and young people of Scotland. We are establishing a network of outdoor campuses across Scotland as part of the Stramash Centre of Excellence in Outdoor Learning. Through the work of our dedicated staff at each campus we aim to have a positive impact on the personal, social and educational development of our children and young people. We are working closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to bring the positive benefits of our work to as many of Scotland's children as possible.”
The Scottish Rural Parliament Action Plan can be found at:www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/rural-issues-and-actions/