Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Thursday 6th August 2020

Western Isles Education Livestream Q+A

Tomorrow at noon, the Comhairlie will hold a live-stream internet discussion and forum for school pupils, parents, staff -- and members of the wider community -- on Education services as COVID restricitions ease.

The focus will be the preparations that the council -- with assistance from a range of partner organisations – has taken for the safe return of employees and pupils to schools across the Western Isles over the coming weeks.

The stream will be broadcast on the Comhairle’s Facebook page and on the e-Sgoil website. Viewers will be able to submit questions in advance by private messaging the Comhairle Facebook page or commenting on the live feed during the livestream.

The forum will be chaired by council media coordinator Colin George Morrison, and will feature a panel including the Director of Education, Skills & Children’s Services Bernard Chisholm -- alongside department officers and headteachers.

The Scottish Government has said it expects all Scottish pupils to be in school full-time by 18 August -- at the very latest.



Following consultation with staff and communities, CalMac ferries will begin a phased reopening of its food, drink and retail on some sailings starting tomorrow, Friday 7 August.

A selection of prepacked foods, and hot and cold drinks will be available on CalMac’s longer routes, with options varying depending on the vessel.

Robbie Drummond, CalMac Managing Director said: “Menus will be more limited than in ‘normal’ circumstances while staff manage health and safety mitigations in place to help keep our passengers, crew and the islands we serve safe from COVID19. ”

Examples of what passengers can expect are:-

Hot breakfast rolls (until 11.30am), hot snacks, soups, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks aboard the MV Loch Seaforth , Clansman , and Isle of Lewis.

Ferry space at a premium

Securing space on Western Isles ferries has become more difficult as demand for journeys rises. No reservations are now available for vehicle space from Stornoway to Ullapool over the coming days.

The situation eases on Tues 11 August but space is also tight for the following weekend. Similar issues exist on the Harris and North Uist services.

Peak periods are weekends, especially change-over days for self-catering cottages.

A CalMac representative said: "We are continuing to monitor each route and will certainly look at putting on more sailings if demand is there."

CalMac has added an extra Sunday sailing for the MV Loch Seaforth on the Ullapool - Stornoway service. MV Lord of the Isles will operate an additional run per week between South Uist to Mallaig.



A Western Isles resident rose to the challenge to support local NHS services during corona virus lockdown by swapping the classroom for the frontline in the Emergency Department at the Western Isles Hospital.

Claire Montgomery from Stornoway had worked in education for 17 years with children and young people with complex additional support needs. But she also had a keen interest in healthcare.

In March the position of Healthcare Assistant became vacant when the postholder had to shield and self isolate.

Claire explains: “I applied for a temporary position on a secondment basis for three months as a Healthcare Assistant at the Emergency Department in the Western Isles Hospital. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the post became an urgent requirement. As soon as I saw the job I knew this was something I would love to try.”

Emergency Department Manager, Susan Macaulay commented: “Claire fitted really well into the role of Healthcare Assistant, which involved assisting Emergency Nurse Practitioners to deliver emergency care and treatment to patients.

“She joined us at a very challenging time, in an unfamiliar setting and where things changed daily. We appreciated Claire's assistance and enthusiasm in learning new skills during her time with us.”