Emergency Covid-19 Response by the John O’Groats Development Trust
John O’Groats Development Trust’s goal is to make John O'Groats a welcoming, thriving and enjoyable place for both visitors and residents. John O’Groats is often referred to as ‘the end of the road’ by travellers and adventuring undertaking the famous ‘Land’s End to John O’Groats’ trek. However, to local residents, John O’Groats is a small coastal village scattered over a large area and is mainly a rural farming community with a thriving group of small businesses and community-owned enterprises. John O’Groats Development Trust was set up to capitalise on the various opportunities that local people could see which would make John O’Groats a better place to live, work and visit.
In March 2020 when lockdown measures were announced, the Trust, in partnership with the Dunnet & Canisbay Community Council, joined as a partner in the Caithness Resilience Partnership convened by Highland Council with the aim of ensuring supplies of essential goods were made available to those in need. The Trust recruited around 60 volunteers from across the Dunnet & Canisbay area to create a response so that nobody who was isolating at home would go without food, basic supplies and their prescription medicines.
The Trust approached Foundation Scotland as funding was essential to be able to provide hot meals to families and basic supplies to households. Although outwith the usual funding timescales the Panel agreed to respond to the request urgently as the need was clearly immediate.
The Stroupster Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund Panel awarded £5,000 to the Trust to enable the Trust to buy in stocks of food and supplies, to provide subsidised food to those in need and to fund volunteers mileage to coordinate collection and delivery of medicines.
With the severe disruptions to the supply chain, the suspension of most public transport networks and the risk of infection in populated spaces, we knew we were needing to pull out all the stops to keep things going for people.
We developed a plan using local businesses that have ceased trading but still had access to the supply chain to be able to provide groceries and hot meals.
This is an extraordinary situation and we were in urgent need of help. The quick turnaround by Foundation Scotland and the Greencoat Stroupster Community Fund meant that, once we had the plan on paper, we had the money in the bank to start work within six days – which was exactly the sort of response we needed.
Andrew Mowat, a John O’Groats Development Trust director and volunteer
I commend the initiative of the John O'Groats Development Trust in the context of a £5000 award from the Greencoat Stroupster Community Fund.
Bill Mowat, a volunteer serving on the Greencoat Stroupster Community Fund Panel
Throughout lockdown the Trust supported a number of vulnerable households across the area, allowing people who were shielding the option to stay safely at home and still receive food and basic supplies.