CalMac at The Scottish Rural Parliament
The Scottish Rural Parliament
Thursday 06 November
Last week, Oban hosted the first Scottish Rural Parliament, bringing together delegates from all over Scotland to look at the challenges and issues rural areas face and to find solutions and other ways to overcome them.
The first day of the Parliament took a group of delegates to the Isle of Mull to see how the communities there have come together to work on the challenges and how they are now more self- sustaining than before. We spoke to Sandy Brunton from Mull, one of the Scottish Rural Parliament organisers on how important the Rural Parliament is during our visit to the Mull Theatre - just one of the community groups taking action into their own hands.
Friday 07 November
All the delegates gathered together at Atlantis Leisure on Friday morning to hear from three guest speakers. The first speaker was Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment on the importance of working together to achieve more and find solutions to challenges faced by rural Scotland. For those of you who were unable to attend here is Richard Lochhead's presentation.
Richard Lochhead MSP
The second speaker of the day was Dr Carol Craig on the confidence and wellbeing of rural Scotland and how cultural change is taking place more in rural areas due to environmental changes. In other words, people having to adapt to make the most of the resources they already have. Her talk generated a fair amount of debate on the wellbeing aspects of some rural areas. Some agreeing that generally, wellbeing of the population in rural areas is better than urban areas while others debated that there is still a lot to be done in order to help rural areas on issues such as access to healthcare and fuel poverty. Listen to what Dr Carol Craig had to say during her presentation.
Dr Carol Craig
Our third and final speaker of the day was Annelie Kana from Estonia, who organises the Kodukant, the rural parliament in Estonia. Estonia has now organised it's 10th event and is the inspiration behind the Scottish Rural Parliament. Annelie explains the work of the Kodukant and its importance in Estonia.
The afternoon was an opportunity to attend workshops on various subjects deemed by the delegates as important. One of the themes discussed was the importance of rural transport links from buses to trains and ferries to rural areas . We spoke to John Hutchison, Chair of the Scottish Rural Action who organised the Rural Parliament on the importance of transport as an enabler for rural communities.
Norman MacAskill from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and an organiser of the Scottish Rural Parliament discusses the important of the partnership between Caledonian MacBrayne and Scottish Rural Action. Norman was also involved in the photography competition that ran before the Scottish Rural Parliament took place. Here he explains more about the partnership and the competition.
One of the delegates that took part in the rural parliament was Moray Finch from the Mull and Iona Community Trust. He explains why he attended the first rural parliament and why transport links are important to Mull and Iona.
We managed to catch up with Richard Lochhead after his presentation for a chat to find out his views on the Scottish Rural Parliament and about his recent trip on a CalMac ferry to Mull.
Richard Lochhead MSP
As CalMac was the sponsor of the first Scottish Rural Parliament, many of the delegates had the opportunity to speak to staff from CalMac about their concerns directly. Martin Dorchester, Chief Executive of David MacBrayne explains why it is important for CalMac to engage face to face with the rural communities they serve and how sponsoring and attending the Scottish Rural Parliament enables CalMac to do that.
Shona Marie MacLellan is a native Gaelic speaker from the Isle of South Uist working as a writer and translator and has worked on Gaelic radio and television.