Neil Macdonald

Neil Macdonald is a director on the Board of Management of Cothrom, the community group that manages the Re-Store project. He describes the directors’ responsibilities for the work of Cothrom in general, and the importance of voluntary group involvement in island community life.

My name is Neil Macdonald. I’m on the, I’m one of the directors on the board of Cothrom, which is an organisation which is based in South Uist. It’s a, an adult learning organisation. We do training and learning for adults.

All the directors on the board of Cothrom – there are about eight of us – we’re all voluntary members, and our responsibilities are mainly monitoring the running of the organisation, er, ensuring that there’s a longterm strategy in place, er, making sure and monitoring the financial expenditure of the organisation against the budgets that are allocated to us, and in general just helping the workforce of Cothrom, er, helping the workforce to er to carry out the aims of Cothrom.

Well, I don’t think the likes of Uist or any of the other islands can in fact exist without voluntary groups. Er, much of the work that is carried out in these communities is always done by voluntary groups. Many of them can’t afford to pay their workers, and if, er, people didn’t volunteer to serve on these bodies I think the islands would be much the worse for it.

Well, Cothrom is always looking for new courses. We always respond to the needs of the community, and er the recycle, the project at Bornish, the Re-Store Project, is just yet another example of a course where we are meeting the demands of the community. Er, basically the Re-Store Project is a social enterprise project, and, but it’s also a business of course, but all, anything that is made, any profits that are made in it will be put back into the organisation itself.

So, I think it is simply an example of one of the many services, or courses, that Cothrom runs, one of the training courses that Cothrom runs. And it is important to point out that, though it is a business venture, it is there simply for a social reason, for training purposes.

Er, I think when people are looking for training in the Uists Cothrom is one of the first names that they think of. I think we always have to give credit to those who founded it back in the, back in 1992. They were a, it was a group of women who founded it initially. And, er, the courses that they initially founded were the ones that were in fashion at the time, as it were. It was sewing, weaving, um information technology, administration and so on. But over the years the courses have developed in response to the needs of the community. There is still a great need for courses. The courses have obviously changed, so at the present time, for example, we’re looking towards courses for immigrant workers that are coming into Uist, because they need, there’s an obvious need there. So, er, so I think Cothrom has, certainly has an important place in learning and training in Uist.

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