A new team could help rejuvenate a “beautiful” Uist community hub, says Ùrachadh Uibhist member Ada Campbell.
Claddach Kirkibost, once a disused schoolhouse in North Uist, has served as an important hub for the community for over 20 years.
Ùrachadh Uibhist (UU), a small team of local women, raised the funds to buy and renovate the building in the late 1990s.
Since 2000, local residents have been able to come to Claddach Kirkibost for everything from childcare to computer access.
Now, though, times are tough for the UU team.
‘We gradually lost members of the committee’
“The nursery had to move into the school in 2016,” says UU’s director, Ada Campbell. “That was the first big change, because it meant people weren’t coming to the building so much.”
The lockdowns during Covid were another blow. “We gradually lost members of the committee, to the extent that there’s only three of us left,” says Ada.
“We just don’t have the capacity.”
They have had to transform the way Claddach Kirkibost provides services, renting out the space to local businesses instead of employing people themselves in the café and nursery.
“We were a major employer in North Uist,” says Ada. “Now things are different.”
Ada, who is 80 and a retired teacher, believes it is time to “hand [Claddach Kirkibost] over to a new group of people”.
On Monday, members of the community came together to discuss the future of the building.
The meeting was “very successful”, says Ada. A total of 48 people attended – and many of them were eager to help.
“About 18 have come forward to say that they’re happy to join our working group,” says Ada.
‘It’s all about finding our way forward’
That means fresh team members and, hopefully, a fresh start for Claddach Kirkibost.
The new working group plans to hold their first meeting on October 10.
For everyone at UU, it’s a promising step towards a new future for the “beautiful building”.
“It’s all about finding our way forward, so that the community can continue to benefit from it,” says Ada.
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