This update comes to you as we face exceptionally challenging and unprecedented times as individuals, communities and organisations due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The long term work of the CNSRP partners continues, and although in the short term there will likely be delays in the implementation of some projects, it is expected that those underway will resume post Covid-19. It is likely that other priorities and types of support being offered will change in the short to medium term as Partner organisations’ missions are developed post Covid.
In the interim, however here are a few updates relating to the CNSRP activities and other items relevant to the area, some of which cover the continuing response to COVID19.
Light at the end of the tunnel
As you may be aware the Scottish Government published their Framework for Decision Making – Scotland Route Map Through and Out of Lockdown. This route map sets out a summary of phases one to four and highlights the importance for observance of the rules in order to be able to move onto the next phase. Phase one sees some easing of the current lockdown, which initially began on 28th May but came into effect from Monday 1st June. Hopefully these steps will begin the journey towards recovery.
Connectivity – Road / Rail / Air / Sea
Wick Airport Public Service Obligation partners continue to have discussions with Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government. It’s widely felt that the PSO will be an important step forward in helping with recovery of the area.
Sustainability – Business and Community Support
The Scottish Government have announced an additional top up of the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund which has been repurposed to allow small businesses in particular B&B’s to apply for support. The revised criteria now assists those who were ineligible for the Hardship Scheme because they didn’t have a business bank account. The fund opens for application on the 15th June and will be administered by local governments. For more information click here
Our partnering organisation Caithness Chamber of Commerce have announced that thanks to the recent contribution from Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DRSL) of £100 000 to aid the recovery of local businesses in our area due to COVID19, they are now in a position to offer funding grants of between £500 up to a maximum of £5000. Eligible business who will incur extra expense as they reopen can apply for the grant via Caithness Fund, to find out more information contact email@example.com . This new funding round is open and runs until Friday 12th June 2020.
A review is ongoing after the government proposed changes to the current Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. The consultation which ran between the 2nd March and 29th May is now closed and the public feedback is being considered. If proposed changes to CfD are implemented, this may offer a route to support development of newer renewable technologies such as the Simec Atlantis tidal stream project and the floating wind technologies that will be needed to develop some of the new sites off the Caithness and Sutherland coasts.
Food and Drink and Tourism Sectors
HIE have announced that this year’s XpoNorth conference will be digital, in light of current circumstances. The event which will run over two days, Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th June supports creative industries. For more information and if you would like to attend digitately, please click here
Many local businesses are diversifying and operating an online order or telephone order for collect and delivery of their products. Don’t forget to check out your favourite food and drinks supplier to see what is being offered.
As lockdown eases and everyone looks toward the warmer weather, we hear a lot of discussions around “staycation” this year, hopefully this will help aid recovery for the Scottish Tourism sector and provide a much needed cash injection into our local economy.
Caithness community group have been busy over the past few months. These groups are able to get shopping, medicines or other support to those self-isolating/vulnerable in their local area. There is incredible support from family, friends and neighbours and the groups are there to back that up and to ensure no one is left struggling to get essential supplies.
All the groups are providing vital support around shopping, medicines and even walking dogs whilst some have extended their provision to cooked meals for those in need. Anyone needing support should contact their local group.
Food banks in both Wick and Thurso are busier than ever and are providing a great service to those who need it.
In addition to the local community groups there is also county wide support available.
Caithness Voluntary Group are here to support the community sector in the county who are currently doing tremendous work. Whilst their Telford House office is closed you can make contact by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Yvonne@cvg.org.uk CVG’s Befriending team are providing telephone befriending calls and anyone interested in this service can e-mail email@example.com or phone 07592 493048.
Caithness Citizens Advice Bureau are also working from home and are available to help with a wide range of issues including Debt and access to benefits. Make contact by phoning 01847 894243 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Highland Council – Recycling centres reopened on Monday 1st June 2020 as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions. The recycling centre is operating at a limited capacity for and ask that only household waste be taken to the centre at present. There are restrictions on van and trailer recycling, but it expected that this decision will be reviewed over the coming weeks.
Scottish Government have advised that in enclosed areas such as shops, buses and trains that face coverings be worn. While this is still not mandatory at present in Scotland and will not be enforced by Police in Scotland, the government are strongly advising to adhere to this guidance to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
The SG continues to promote physical distancing, hand washing and good respiratory hygiene as being the most effective way to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.