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Thurso Community Development Trust 'facing a time of uncertainty'


By Alan Hendry

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Trust chairperson Helen Allan outlined the funding concerns in a newsletter.
Trust chairperson Helen Allan outlined the funding concerns in a newsletter.

The community trust leading a range of sustainable development projects in Thurso is "facing a time of uncertainty" over funding, it has emerged.

Board members of Thurso Community Development Trust (TCDT) and its trading organisation, Thurso Community Benefit Society, are due to meet later this month to consider their options and potentially "make some difficult decisions".

The update was given in a newsletter sent out on Thursday by trust chairperson Helen Allan.

TCDT formed in 2018 with the aim of making Thurso "a better place to live, work and visit for all through community-led sustainable development". Its vision is for the town to be a "connected, active and ambitious place with a strong social purpose and a spirit of wellbeing".

In the newsletter Mrs Allan highlights the need for "suitably skilled" board members to support Socially Growing – a social enterprise operated by Thurso Community Benefit Society consisting of a zero-waste refill shop and community-owned greenhouses.

She explains: "Although the current board is very committed and hard-working, it needs more members with business/financial/management skills. The cost-of-living crisis has had a detrimental impact.

"Socially Growing is also getting to the end of its funding and unfortunately is still trying to achieve the income levels required."

She calls on trust members to help by supporting the shop, located in Rotterdam Street, adding: "If you have (or you know of anyone who has) business, finance or managerial skills and would be willing to join the board, we would love to hear from them."

Mrs Allan points out that assistance is being provided by Just Enterprise, a Scottish Government-funded programme for the third sector.

Helen Allan (left) showing Maree Todd the Socially Growing refill shop, one of Thurso Community Development Trust's projects, earlier this year.
Helen Allan (left) showing Maree Todd the Socially Growing refill shop, one of Thurso Community Development Trust's projects, earlier this year.

On staffing, Mrs Allan explains that Joan Lawrie left her role as development manager in February to become manager of the Highlands and Islands Climate Hub. Ms Lawrie was succeeded by Stephanie Remers, who left at the end of July.

"Currently the development manager role is being covered on a temporary basis by Danielle Moodie, who was employed to assist with one of our other projects," Mrs Allan says.

On core funding, Mrs Allan writes: "Thurso Community Development Trust funding opportunities are very limited in these times. With a number of our funded projects coming to an end in June, Danielle has been working very hard to identify suitable funding streams and completing the applications.

"One of our main challenges is that where it is slightly easier to get funding for specific projects it is extremely difficult to get funding for core costs, e.g. development manager/administration salary costs, as well as overheads, e.g. utilities/insurance.

"Both boards are meeting at the end of this month to look at what our options are and if needed make some difficult decisions."

In May, Maree Todd praised TCDT for its "twin focus on sustainability and community" after being given a guided tour of its projects.

The SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross said at the time: “Thurso Community Development Trust and its dedicated team of volunteers are an asset to the Thurso community. I know that they were at the heart of the local Covid-19 response, where they worked around the clock to protect and support vulnerable members of their community, and they have not let up since.”


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