There are so many brilliant things about living on a wee island. It's a wonderful, safe place to grow up. It’s quiet and calm one minute, then wild and invigorating the next. For the most part, we feel incredibly fortunate to call this place home but life on a remote island can also be difficult.
Like many other rural communities, our resident population has decreased significantly over the last century. Our demographic is unsustainable. We have come critically close to losing some of our lifeline services due to the lack of working-age islanders. Next year, the primary school roll drops to just 4. We are at breaking point, and we have to make a change.
There are many factors that have led to the decrease in our working-age population but the main thing that has been identified, time and time again, by community surveys and speaking to our young people is the lack of affordable, secure housing on the island.
There are currently 9 social housing units and only a handful of private rentals on the island. More than 40% of the housing stock on Colonsay is non-residential (used as a holiday home or self-catering holiday accommodation) and homes regularly sell - often unadvertised - for well-above the council/Scottish average meaning that young people and families on average incomes are priced out of the local property market. There is no shortage of people who would like to live here - we have had more than 20 expressions of interest in this development already - but the harsh reality is that, for most of us, it is just not an option.
The result is that we have young families with babies and toddlers living in caravans and insecure short-term lets. We have families, our elderly residents and many key workers struggling in substandard housing over long, wild winters. It shouldn’t be this way, and it simply cannot continue.
We know this isn’t only happening on Colonsay. Rural and urban areas across Scotland are struggling to retain their young people and it is increasingly being left to communities and volunteers to create meaningful, sustainable change.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
Our initial aim is to build 4 community owned houses for affordable rent, 2 houses for low cost home ownership and 3 discounted self-build plots. By offering a range of different housing tenures this will provide for a variety of circumstances, supporting families, the young and the elderly, fulfilling their different needs.
Being able to build these additional homes will help to address not just the social injustices of the past but also those of the present by creating the space for individuals to develop their full potential, while reinvigorating our island community.
The 4 rented homes will be retained by the community and offered at affordable levels as long-term homes for people who wish to be full time residents on Colonsay.
This is where we need your help.
The significant costs of building on a remote Scottish island are far higher than normal and we need extra help to get to our target. We are therefore looking to boost our funding effort by raising £25,000 in crowdfunding to help towards the overall build cost of £220,000 per community owned and rented house.
As you can imagine, this is a massive undertaking for such a small community. Over the years there have been countless volunteers who have given their time and energy to bring this housing project to Colonsay. We are now nearly there and just need this last push to put affordable homes into the ownership of our community and secure a future for Colonsay.
WHO ARE WE?
This project is being driven by Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC). The charity was set up in 2000 to take forward the ambitions of local people and to develop the island with the aim of relieving poverty, providing opportunity and ensuring a sustainable future for our community.
You can find out more about CCDC by clicking here.
Our role as the local community development group is to ensure the long term social and economic survival of our island and we have identified that the only way to start is by addressing the current housing imbalance. The only sure way we can achieve this is to build affordable homes to provide housing for those who wish to live on and contribute to island life but are unable to compete with open market house prices.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
COMING SOON - our crowdfunding appeal is not live yet but we will let you know as soon as it is ready. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - or just keep an eye on this page - for updates.
If you think you know someone who might be able to help us share our story even further or if you have any questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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