This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 06/03/2019  

With financial challenges hitting local authorities across the country, councils are having to get creative – and in the Outer Hebrides, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are getting communities involved in finding solutions to those challenges.

As announced at the end of 2018, the Comhairle needs to make nearly £10 million in savings over the next four years but are hoping to minimise the impact of these reductions with a Service Redesign Process that was agreed in the 2018/19 budget. The ultimate goal is to find savings while also maintaining current levels of public services, and as a result, the redesign will involve greater input – and direct involvement – from communities. 

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 04/04/2019  

The pupils and staff at Balivanich Primary in Benbecula recently celebrated the news that they were the first school in the Western Isles to achieve a Gold Award in the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools Award.

In their monthly newsletter, the school described the award as “a fantastic achievement for the whole school community!” and their success – and that of others in the islands – is just one example of the efforts being made locally to promote children’s rights.

Daliburgh School also received their Silver Award, while Eoligarry Primary, Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath, Sir E Scott School, and Sgoil an Rubha all received Bronze Awards.

To date, 13 schools in the Western Isles have signed up to the United Nations’ initiative, one which aims to place children’s rights at the heart of school life.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 04/04/2019  

“I don’t really feel boxed in by any one approach,” says local singer-songwriter Willie Campbell of his songwriting techniques.

“Sometimes on long drives, that’s a good opportunity for melodies or lyrical patterns to come to me, but I don’t have any fixed way of doing it.”

“I love sitting there with a guitar and humming. Maybe I’m oversimplifying it a wee bit, but it’s just talking with a melody and some music, and if you keep it as simple as that you can finesse the rest of it really.”

It’s this creative attitude that Willie brought to school pupils in the Western Isles as part of the Dileab project.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 04/04/2019   

Since its launch in 2016, e-Sgoil, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s digital learning service, has gone from strength to strength, offering everything from global Gaelic lessons to supply teacher provision and more.

Now, the next phase will be further expansion: not just digitally, but physically, with the proposed creation of a second e-Sgoil satellite hub in South Uist.

The new hub will be located at Iochdar School, with the goal of it becoming a focus for arts, music, and culture in the islands and beyond.“It is proposed that it be developed as a further satellite provision for e-Sgoil and the Multimedia Unit as a creative digital media hub,” says Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education, Skills, and Children’s Services at the Comhairle.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 06/03/2019 

After a moving performance of the Gaelic song Eilean Fhraoich by dozens of school pupils singing and playing a multitude of instruments, the audience took to their feet for a standing ovation. 

The performance at Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais in Stornoway on 14th December was the hugely successful culmination of the first stage of Dileab, an intergenerational bilingual project that throughout 2018 saw young people explore the legacy of four major social influences on the islands over the last century: emigration, wartime experiences, protest and politics, and the Iolaire. 

The project resulted in four sold-out concerts of drama, poetry, and music throughout November and December, held in Castlebay School, Sgoil Lionacleit, Sir E Scott School, and Stornoway.