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A community survey and consultation is to be carried out by Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) over the coming months, to find out how local causes and organisations have benefited from investment from the community wind farm charity.

The charity, which disperses the profits from the community-owned Beinn Ghrideag throughout the community, will also be consulting on future spending priorities, with a view to creating a new five-year investment plan that is in line with the community’s own hopes and ambitions.

This new community consultation follows two previous in-depth consultations undertaken by PST, in 2009 and 2013, which resulted in the Point and Sandwick Trust Community Investment Plan, now nearing completion.

Impact Hub Inverness will be carrying out the consultation and two of its representatives, Polly Chapman and Brian Weaver, met with the board of Point and Sandwick Trust recently to agree the terms of the consultation.

Polly Chapman, chief executive of Impact Hub Inverness, said there would be two outputs from their work – a social impact review and a community plan for the next five years. “Basically we’re looking at what difference the grant has made and then looking forward to what the priorities for future investment are,” she said.

They will be surveying all grant recipients, Point and Sandwick Trust board members, the wider community and other stakeholders.

The survey will be carried out over the Spring, with the draft plan being completed by early summer. It is scheduled to come before board members at their annual away day in September and then in front of the wider membership at the Annual General Meeting in November. 

Speaking after the board meeting, Polly said: “I’m impressed by the number of people in that room and the enthusiasm that’s clearly coming across. It’s really refreshing to be in a room with a group of people who are looking to the future with optimism, commitment, enthusiasm and realism.”

Brian said it was “unusual” to have so many people working together on a shared vision.

“The joyous thing about a vision is when more than one person has it. If you can get people who share a vision to come together around it and work together towards it, then that is unusual. It’s unusual to have that number of people working together in a collaborative way, because so often in communities it’s about fights over power.”

Norman Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust chairman, said: “This consultation is an opportunity for all of our stakeholders to have a say and help shape the future direction of Point and Sandwick Trust’s investment in our community.

“I think that our community grant scheme has proved to be a great help to local groups and it has made a significant contribution to social cohesion and well-being within our community. I have no doubt that this form of community support will continue to be central to our activities but, from a personal point of view, I also think we need to consider how we can invest for the future.

“I would urge everyone taking part in this consultation to make the most of the opportunity to make their views known and inform directors as to the type of community investment and support they would like to see PST be involved in over the next five years.”

Donald John MacSween, Point and Sandwick Trust general manager, said: “By the end of this year Point and Sandwick Trust will be nearing the £2million mark in community support, and now is an appropriate time to have an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the first few years, and undertake a wide-ranging consultation to find out how Point and Sandwick Trust should invest in the next five years.

“Priorities will have changed for the Point and Sandwick Trust Board during implementation of the first plan and the consultation on the new investment plan, taking account of these changing priorities, will give the PST board, members, grant recipients and the community an opportunity to have their say.

“Point and Sandwick Trust are still committed to their community and determined that the gift aid from Beinn Ghrideag Wind Farm will be used to fulfil that commitment in the future.”