Keeping the community connected in Contin
Contin Community Council represents the views of the community and is a proactive group that leads on various local projects.
Priorities for the community were initially identified at a consultation event in 2015, which was repeated in 2018. Along with issues such as promoting local heritage and access, the need for residents to have information on local events and activities was highlighted and the importance of local groups coordinating their activities together. As a result, the Community Council installed a notice board outside the village shop and circulated information via social media and websites.
However, feedback from residents suggested that communications could still be improved, particularly to include those who are not active online. The Community Council brought together a group of volunteers who produced a trial newsletter in October 2018, funded by a micro-grant from the EDF Corriemoillie Fund. Positive feedback from residents encouraged the group to produce six more editions over the following 12 months. And so the Contin Post was launched.
The newsletter seeks to give information about local events plus regular updates from local groups, school news, local business adverts, and information about local funding sources and awards. Bi-monthly editions have proven to be most useful for promoting events and community initiatives. This is also realistic in terms of what the volunteer team that produce the Contin Post can cope with.
The team received £1,034 from the EDF Renewables Corriemoillie Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund (Contin) in November 2018 to produce and deliver the first six editions, running up to December 2019. Each edition saw 500 copies of a 4-page newsletter produced and delivered to all Contin households. Copies were also made available in the local shop, where donations were gladly received in return.
Feedback was very positive, with residents and local groups finding the information contained in the newsletter very useful. In October 2019, another award of £945 was made to fund the newsletter for a further twelve months. Production and delivery costs were similar, but the group had secured a small income of around £100 from advertising and donations, contributing to the costs.
The editorial group consists of five volunteers who have built useful experience in producing the Contin Post. For each edition, they give an estimated 30 hours of their time to produce content, design the layout, liaise with local groups and agencies, solicit and administer advertising revenue, etc. The team comprises people with links to the local Development Trust, tourist industry, the Community Council, and a range of skills.
However, experience showed that ensuring consistent and regular delivery, which is critical to the publication's success, requires a paid role. The team has therefore contracted this service locally, enabling a part-time job to be created.
During the pandemic, the group adapted to online planning meetings and began to use document sharing software. The group was able to produce a specific edition that focused on covid-related support and information. This was considered very beneficial, particularly by elderly and more vulnerable residents.
The group was awarded £500 from the Corriemoillie Fund in March 2021 to meet printing and delivery costs for the rest of the year. Total costs are now estimated at £1,164, with three of the issues being produced in full colour. The group continue to support a local social enterprise for printing services. The level of funding required was reduced in year three due to another slight increase in revenue from advertising and donations to around £260, a donation of £230 from Allt Dearg Wind Farm and a contribution from the Community Council towards the costs of the Covid issue in 2020.
The newsletter has proven itself to be a very useful medium for getting information out to the local community, and the volunteers consistently receive positive feedback on it. They aim to continue to produce bi-monthly editions in the future.
Local volunteer, Norma Ross, said:
“The team managed amazingly well to continue to write and distribute The Contin Post during lockdown. We have also learned to be extremely flexible, make last minute changes and involve the distribution team in our planned delivery dates to ensure that the Post is delivered ahead of any scheduled events.
We would love to have some teens and young adults represented on our team and would also like to expand our advertising revenue. With the new Hall opening, once permitted, we would like local groups using the hall to submit articles, highlighting their activities and ideas thus encouraging more people to participate in what is available in Contin. We all love being involved in The Contin Post.”