Pictured at Kinlochewe Community Toilets are – (L-R) Mary Peart, Andrew Peacock, Karen Twist and David Whiteford.
Vital funding has been granted to two public toilets in Wester Ross to make them COVID-ready in time for the delayed tourist season.
Sheildaig Community Association and Community Out West Trust have been awarded vital grants from North Highland Initiative Community Support Programme to provide essential upgrades and management for the Sheildaig Public Toilets and Kinlochewe Community Toilets.
Both groups received the exact amount they applied for.
Community Out West Trust received £850 and The Sheildaig Community Association received £1000.
The funding will allow the community associations to better safeguard those using the facilities and protect the many dedicated volunteers cleaning the area from contracting the virus.
Launched in March, The North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme is already awarding grants of up to £1,000 for small initiatives in the education, conservation, and community service and support sectors in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty.
Priority is being given to those initiatives where Government support packages are unable to help, and those ineligible for emergency grants.
Janene Waudby, Trustee and Secretary at the Shieldaig Community Association, the charity responsible for the Shieldaig Public Toilets said:
“The Shieldaig Community Association is thrilled to have received a grant from the North Highland Initiative.
“It’s always been important to the Shieldaig community to keep the public toilets open all year round for our visitors to use.
“Since we now have full responsibility for the operation of the toilets, the North Highland Initiative funding is a valuable contribution to the costs of the recent renovations and future running expenses.
“We hope that the grant alongside public donations will help us to continue to maintain this important facility.”
Karen Twist, Owner of the Kinlochewe Hotel and Director of the Community Out West Trust added:
“We received funding from the North Highland Initiative as part of its Community Support Programme for the Kinlochewe Community Toilets in May.
“Upon submitting our application, the funding was in our accounts within 48 hours allowing us to begin making the vital changes to this important service.
“The Kinlochewe Community Toilets are now back open and serving our local community and essential workers with a new, improved, and most importantly, safe service.”
David Whiteford, Chair of the North Highland Initiative (NHI), said:
“We’re very proud to be able to support the Sheildaig Community Association and the Community Out West Trust in their work to make the Sheildaig and Kinlochewe Public Toilets ‘COVID ready’.
“Public toilets are a vital service for locals, essential workers and tourists so it is vital that they are safe and people can feel confident using these facilities.
“Our NHI Support Fund is already helping communities and services that are experiencing particular hardship as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“Our aim is to target areas, projects, and local initiatives for which Government Support packages may not be able to assist, and those ineligible for emergency funding.
“With a limit of £1,000 of funding per project available, this allows us to provide multiple smaller grants aimed at reaching out to as many communities as possible and we now want to encourage even more community groups from across the North Highlands to apply.”
The vital funding comes as Scotland begins to reopen and welcome visitors from across the country.
Highland Council Leader Margaret Davidson said:
“I am pleased that we can all really look forward to welcoming visitors and tourists back to the Highlands later this month.
“I know some people will be naturally anxious as restrictions start to lift across Scotland and visitors start to return.
“I know also that many of our businesses are being very thoughtful about how they open up and are working alongside their communities so that we are all gain confidence as we go forward.
“We have good national and local guidance to help and we need to spread the emerging good practice for everyone to see.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of the Highlands and essential to our economy.”
Cllr Allan Henderson Chair of the Communities and Place Committee added:
“We are delighted to see local groups who are seeking investment to retain and improve community facilities including local public toilets.
“It’s very reassuring that communities are getting involved and forming partnerships going forward for the benefit of locals and visitors.”