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Cairngorms National Park communities given help to develop

4th June 2007

CAIRNGORMS communities are to be given help in making their areas a better place with the appointment of two new community development workers.

The two officers, Karen Derrick and Ron Mercer, will work with all the communities in Badenoch and Strathspey. They will work alongside local groups to support them with projects that have been identified by communities as being beneficial for their area. They will also help to secure funding for the projects as well as offer advice and support for getting them off the ground. Communities that are, at present, less active, will also be encouraged and supported to become more involved in community and project work.

The posts were developed by the Badenoch and Strathspey Partnership and are being funded by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Highlands and Islands Enterprise Inverness and East Highland, and the Highland Council. The officers will be employed and managed by Voluntary Action Badenoch and Strathspey (VABS).

The Partnership and VABS support community planning and development. The community development officers will assist in that work by:

  • Providing information and guidance on developing new community led projects that enhance and promote the special qualities of the area;
  • Increase community ability to develop and implement projects;
  • Assist with funding opportunities for projects;
  • Assist existing and potential community companies/organisations with projects which generate income and
  • Liaise with Highland Council’s Community Learning & Leisure staff and Youth Action staff in the development and implementation of projects.

The work also ties in with one of the aims of the Cairngorms National Park – to promote sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities.

Claire Ross, Education and Inclusion Manager at the CNPA, said: “The CNPA is committed to ensuring every community in the Park has a voice and role in its future.

“The Community Development Officers will support them in that by providing advice and assistance. Not only will the groups become stronger and more pro-active, but their work will help to enhance and conserve the Park for all. It will ensure that the communities in Badenoch and Strathspey have a vital and leading role in the work that is going on here.”

Colin Grant, development manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise Inverness and East Highland, said: “The appointment of these individuals offers an exciting opportunity to enhance our work within the local communities in the Badenoch and Strathspey area. These posts will help build capacity, mentor and provide advice in taking local community projects forward.”

John Rainey Brown, VABS, said: “For years we have been trying to get some support available to all the communities in Badenoch and Strathspey to assist them achieve their aims and aspirations. This is a first step in that direction and with our partners on the Badenoch and Strathspey Partnership we intend that this new project will be a success and lead to greater things.”

Kate Adamson of Association of Cairngorm Communities (ACC) said: “People often have good ideas of projects required in their community, but need support and direction to take forward and complete the projects themselves. Ron and Karen will provide this. The ACC is aware that some geographical and interest groups are less active than others and we look forward to the new officers assisting these sectors particularly.”

A steering group, made up of private, public and voluntary bodies working in the Park, will oversee the strategic running of the posts and the project.

The officers will be based at the VABS office in Aviemore.