Hebrides Today

News from the Western Isles

Island enterprises encouraged to apply for new funding

Posted by Editor On February - 26 - 2009

Social enterprises across Lewis and South Uist are being encouraged to take advantage of a new £30m investment fund.


The Scottish Investment Fund (SIF) will provide funding for services that benefit the local community.


To promote the initiative, managers from Social Investment Scotland (the body which administers the fund) will attend meetings of the Lewis and South Uist Social Enterprise Partnerships this week.


SIF administrator Social Investment Scotland is aiming to make awards to around 60 to 80 organisations over the next three years. Prime areas for investment include: social care; environmental projects; employment training; disability services and health equality initiatives.


Investment from the fund is tailored to the requirements of individual organisations and will comprise a combination of loans at affordable fixed rates as well as ‘patient capital’ and non-repayable funding.


The first stage for those who wish to find out more is a simple on-line process. In less than 15 minutes groups will know whether or not they meet the basic eligibility criteria.


Scott Anderson, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland, said: “The Scottish Investment Fund marks a new way forward for social enterprises. It will give an added commercial focus to the sector and help organisations across regions such as the Western Isles develop revenue generating initiatives.


“SIF offers an additional means of attracting funding for social enterprises with real growth potential. For those who qualify, the fund will give them the capital they need to help them succeed and enable them to make an enhanced contribution to Scotland’s economy."


“Whilst we have already received a number of approaches, we are looking for more at present. I would encourage any individuals running social enterprises that have the scope for growth to consider the benefits of SIF and contact us to see if they are eligible.”


For further details visit: www.scottishinvestmentfund.co.uk

North Uist's Iron Age wheelhouse

Posted by Editor On February - 25 - 2009

THE Western Isles have a plethora of archaeological sites from the famous Callanish  stones in Lewis to lesser known megaliths such as Macleods’s rock in Harris there is  a rich strata of culture just nestling under peatbanks and machair.


In recent times machair land has been particularly revealing, as storms eat away at this sandy land a treasure trove of archaeological finds are unearthed – at least for a short time – until the sea erodes these ‘time-capsules’ of ancient culture.


One such find is the Iron Age Wheelhouse in Lochmaddy, and along with Shetland the Western Isles seem to be unique in these constructions, boding well for attracting tourism.


It is believed that the wheelhouses would have been built between 500 BC and 500 AD, at around the same time as Lewis’s magnificent Carloway broch.


The wheelhouses are circular drystone structures, with a single entrance and central hearth. The interior is divided by a number of stone walls, arranged like the spokes of a wheel, opening into the central area.


It is thought that the segments formed by these 'wheel-spokes' would have had stone roofs, whilst the central space would have been roofed with timber, or perhaps whalebone and turf.


Archaeologists suggest that the wheelhouses were used not only as homes, but also for religious and ritual activity, as pits have been found containing animal remains, and in one, part of a human skull.


The Lochmaddy wheelhouse, which is the subject of a reconstruction project, is situated near the island’s Taigh-Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre.  The initiative should see a moorland wheelhouse created from what remains of this ancient construction.


It is also hoped a replica souterrain (underground chamber) could be joined to the reconstructed wheelhouse.


The project will use locally sourced materials, with timber from Langass forest, or perhaps utilising driftwood logs from nearby beaches – very much in tune with what ancient islanders would have used.