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Fresh start for volunteer group as Community Support and Information Ross-shire as role evolves

By Hector MacKenzie

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Nina Campbell
Nina Campbell

A ROSS-shire organisation which played a key role at the height of the coronavirus crisis has rebranded and relaunched to better reflect its evolving role.

The former Ross-shire Voluntary Action has also revealed a poignant tribute to a much-missed stalwart of the third sector volunteer movement in Ross-shire intimately connected with the success of many ventures down the years.

RVA is making a fresh start as Community Support and Information Ross-shire (CSI Ross-shire).

Its office has also relocated to Strathpeffer Community Centre on a temporary basis pending a move to a permanent base.

Ross-Shire Voluntary Action was established in 1971 as Council of Voluntary Services, with the aim of providing support for local community organisations.

Over time it has evolved supporting organisations, and latterly diversifying into community transport and employability.

CSI logo
CSI logo

The group says in light of the changing landscape of the third sector, the board have taken the opportunity to rebrand and relaunch the organisation to better reflect the services provided.

The organisation operates the Ross-shire Community Car scheme covering the Black Isle and Easter Ross and its success is due to the support of our hard-working and dedicated volunteers and has attracted from funding the Highland Council, LEADER, National Lottery, Robertson Trust and Stafford Trust.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, the car scheme is temporarily on hold.

During the lockdown period, CSI Ross-shire has been active in collecting and delivering food for people in the area who were shielding, working closely with the local hub in Dingwall.

It also acted as a distributor of Scottish Government funds for the community response to Covid-19, allocated by Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Our employability project, delivered in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, supports people who are experiencing unemployment, identifying volunteering opportunities and helping to develop skills in preparation for returning to the job market.

A new development is a weekly virtual café offering a safe space to chat and get advice from an employability advisor.

It has been named Sheila’s Café in memory of Sheila Fletcher, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Sheila Fletcher: tribute.
Sheila Fletcher: tribute.

She was the chairperson of the group for many years and her energy and enthusiasm, particularly for equality and transport in the Highlands, helped shape the focus of the organisation.

Nina Campbell has been elected the new chairperson of the group.

She brings a wealth of experience in health and wellbeing and equality, particularly in the charity sector.

She said: "There are many challenges in the months ahead as we continue to develop CSI Ross-shire. As of September 2020 we are no longer commissioned by the Highland Third Sector Interface (HTSI) to deliver support for community organisations as this has been taken in house.

"This is a role we relinquish with some sadness as we have built up many relationships with communities over the years, but we see this as a new beginning and an opportunity to support local communities in new and different ways as we move forward."

Related: Tributes to Ross-shire voluntary sector stalwart

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