Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News: Friday 17th April 2020


The local Health Board has launched a new dedicated Coronavirus (COVID-19) support website for those living and working within the Outer Hebrides at

Aimed as a one-stop gateway for the local community, the new site offers easy access to essential and accurate information on COVID-19. Providing links to the latest guidance from NHS Inform, Scottish and UK Government, the site also offers local information on support and services. This includes the ‘Near Me’ virtual appointment system, maternity services, dental health, patient travel and virtual visiting.

A list of commonly asked questions and answers is featured, as well as information on pregnancy and child immunisations, to even how to care for your hands. Also included are the local video updates provided by Gordon Jamieson, NHS Western Isles Chief Executive.

Staff guidance has been included to help staff cope with issues and concerns that they may experience. A section to help cope with isolation also features, offering a range of support, tools and tips to help individuals and families stay at home. Information on keeping well and healthy living is provided, as well as useful support on how to stay in touch with family and friends outwith your household.

A community links section offers information on the local Community Support Hub and Helpline, which offers community support for those who require support whilst self-isolating or may be considered vulnerable during this time. This includes support with shopping, collection/delivery of prescriptions, walking pets and telephoning those who may be feeling lonely or isolated.

In addition, a useful support section offers information on local support services, financial and accommodation support, as well as water and energy supplier information. The new website will be updated on a regular basis.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said:

“This new website has been launched as part of our COVID-19 communications strategy to provide a wide range of local and national updates in one place for our local community. It will be updated as required and will contain the most current information for the people of the Western Isles. We would encourage members of the public to visit the website.”



The Foundation Scotland Response, Recovery & Resilience Fund, delivered in partnership with the National Emergencies Trust, allows eligible groups to apply for grants between £1,000-£5,000. The primary focus is to support groups that are adapting to local needs such as projects reaching vulnerable people that are self-isolating, vital help for foodbanks, aid for community response co-ordination, the purchase of safety equipment for caring groups and funds for those supporting health and wellbeing needs with COVID-19.
The Community Foundation has designed a quick and simple online application form and is operating a swift turnaround time of just 72-hours so that groups receive support as rapidly as possible. The Community Foundation is eager to distribute funds to communities in need urgently and is appealing to local groups to apply.
Chief Executive of Foundation Scotland, Giles Ruck, said;
“In this time of national crisis, it is critical to distribute funds quickly to where they are most urgently needed. The Foundation Scotland Response Fund is offering that emergency funding now, we have a typical turnaround time of 72 hours from application to payment. Organisations that applied last week have already received essential funds. We are assessing some incredible applications from dedicated organisations that are responding quickly and imaginatively to the challenges of COVID-19. We are eager to encourage other charities and community groups in need to apply so that funds can continue to reach those most in need through this challenging time.”
For more details, eligibility criteria and to apply online visit the Foundation Scotland website



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the additional funding support for business announced by the Scottish Government.

The package includes £120m to extend the small business grant scheme to provide a 75% grant on additional eligible properties and £100m to support the self-employed and viable micro and SME businesses.

Comhairle Leader, Roddie Mackay, said “It is good to see such a positive response from the Finance Secretary to our concerns about businesses falling between schemes and the Comhairle will continue to work hard to ensure that this funding gets to where it is needed as quickly as possible.”


The West Highland Free Press has become the first Scottish newspaper to suspend publication due to the impact of coronavirus. This week’s edition is the last for nearly two months. The majority of staff will be put on furlough until June when the situation will be reviewed.

Such drastic action has been forced by plummeting advertising revenue and reduced sales during the widespread lockdown. Though a number of low circulation freesheets have also been hit as a result of the present economic crisis, the Free Press is the first big casualty in Scotland's newspaper industry.

In a front page editorial, Paul Wood, managing director at the employee-owned Free Press, highlighted the going was already tough for newspapers, saying:

“Now the headwinds that blew against us have strengthened to storm force.”

He added:

"With great reluctance and sorrow, we are forced to make this edition the last one for several weeks.

"It is our intention to resume publication on 5th June, but this will depend on the outcome of the struggle against an unpredictable enemy."
Mr Wood explained Covid-19 has closed most smaller newsagents and advertisers are under pressure.
"In short, our paper sales and vital advertising revenue have been hammered by this frightening new reality.”



Aquaculture businesses threatened by the effects of COVID-19 can now get financial support from the Scottish Government.

Hardship payments of up to £27,000 are being made available for around 100 businesses which make a full time living from shellfish growing and trout farming.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“COVID-19 is having a profound impact on all aspects of Scottish life which is why the Scottish Government is working to protect lives and livelihoods.

“Aquaculture has been a thriving part of the Scottish rural economy, particularly our islands, and a key contributor to our food and drink success story in recent years. But the market for some products has disappeared almost overnight, leaving many at risk of financial ruin.

“Action is required urgently to preserve the future of Scotland’s aquaculture sector and the social fabric of our remote and rural communities which is now under threat.

Chief Executive of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers Dr Nick Lake said: "The coronavirus emergency has seen the hospitality and restaurant markets for cultivated shellfish immediately curtailed and this targeted response by the Scottish Government will help shellfish growers maintain farm sites for oyster and mussel production.

“The spring months are vital for maintenance of stock and the collection of wild mussel seed to sustain future years production and it is paramount this work is able to be safely undertaken with experienced staff retained by businesses.

“Financial support at this critical point should ensure shellfish cultivation businesses are able to continue to deliver high quality shellfish to the markets as soon as conditions improve”.