Image shows flooding in fields near Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway

BUILDING COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN RURAL GALLOWAY

This year The Loch Ken Trust is undertaking a 6-month pilot project to develop local community resilience to natural hazard events across their area.

Published: 14 December 2023

This year The Loch Ken Trust is undertaking a 6-month pilot project to develop local community resilience to natural hazard events across their area.

This year The Loch Ken Trust is undertaking a 6-month pilot project to develop local community resilience to natural hazard events across their area. The communities around Loch Ken have the vision to become the world’s first Future Ready Community by achieving all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Previously having worked with Adaptation Scotland on the Climate Ready Ken project the Trust is working to enhance local understanding of climate adaptation and preparedness for climate impacts.

Image shows the Loch Ken team using a large map during the community planning sessions
The use of a large map of the Loch Ken area by the team has helped to facilitate valuable conversation and local knowledge sharing. 

In recent years, the people and villages around Loch Ken have experienced a wide range of natural hazards including flooding, water scarcity, wildfires, extreme temperatures, and storms. The impact of Storm Arwen on the local area highlighted the need for the rural communities to be able to support themselves in situations where help from public agencies is stretched or unable to reach remote locations. Storm Arwen emphasised the challenges in communication, power outages and mobilisation of volunteers. 

Loch Ken Trust has founded one of the first community-led ranger services in Scotland. The ranger service is an important community resource and illustrates the need for a reliable intermediary between public support and isolated communities. By utilising the Loch Ken Ranger Service as a coordinating organisation, the project aims to strengthen local authorities’ reach and reduce the burden on public agencies during a crisis.

Image shoes hands pointing at a map and someone writing points on the map with a pen. Sat on the table are also cups of tea and biscuits.
The Loch Ken team have been undertaking community planning sessions, which are always better with tea and biscuits.

As the scheme is a pilot, the team are currently working with three community councils in the area and with three community spaces: Parton Village Hall, Balmaclellan Village Hall and New Galloway Town Hall. The Loch Ken Ranger service team have been undertaking reviews of existing resilience plans (where they exist) with communities to build a full understanding of the challenges faced. Each of the community workshops used a scenario exercise to engage community members in conversations about current resilience plans and explore practical steps that could be taken for future events. Discussions in the meeting have covered everything from insurance and responsibilities to community space access and resources.

The project team aim to create a Remote Rural Community Resilience Support Kit which will include active ‘local support plans’ that have been developed and agreed upon in partnership with the pilot community councils and spaces.  There will be a dedicated resilience section added on the local Glenkens Hub website with key information and signposting to important support. The development of an ‘emergency communications protocol’ will be agreed upon with key partners to ensure isolated communities and properties can receive important communications in a hazardous event.

Image shows a scenario card laid over a map. The scenario says: Bob from the village phones to say a tree is blocking the road.
Using scenarios has been a great tool to work through emergency plans and identify areas that need more investigation or support. 

As with all projects funded by the National Centre for Resilience, the project is set to deliver an evidence base for the key issues to address in bridging the gap between rural communities and the wider resilience initiatives. The aim is to create resources that can be used to empower communities in similar situations to better support themselves during natural hazard events. By building capacity within the pilot communities, fostering behavioural changes, and creating a template for national implementation the project aims to leave a lasting positive impact on community resilience.

You can read more about the Loch Ken Trust and their work on their website.

If you are interested in applying for our Third Sector, Community and Practice fund this year you can find out more details here

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