Isle of Rum Community Trust have been working with HSCHT to deliver housing objectives on the isle of Rum.  Advice and support has always been speedy and forthcoming, staff are very friendly, approachable and, very importantly, appear to have an excellent knowledge and experience of the wide range of issues relating to developing and managing housing projects.  

– Steve Robertson, Isle of Rum Community Trust

The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust have been a very useful contact to have as part of our local development work.  We have worked closely with HSCHT on several occasions in the past.  HSCHT conducted a  local housing needs survey and report for us  which has been extremely useful in informing and progressing our strategic aims and local projects.  They have also attended a housing seminar which we organised in March 2014, their attendance and advice was again very useful.  On an ongoing basis we continue to work with HSCHT on our local housing action group which is looking at all aspects involved in providing much needed local housing in our area.  HSCHT are a fantastic source for information and advice and as well as being extremely knowledgeable are always very helpful.

– Lee Heaney, Ullapool Community Trust

I had heard about HSCHT long before I was involved with the Trust as it was recognised by people in the community and the network I work in as a trustworthy, efficient and important organisation that could really help small communities like ours.

Our small community, Coigach,  is typical of many  in the Highlands where lack of affordable, comfortable accommodation has led to real problems for people living here – with the result that they don’t: they move away to places where they can get somewhere to live. This in turn has led to an aging demographic, workforce shortage and a falling school roll. Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) was set up in 2010 to tackle these and other challenges facing the community.

As Local Development Officer with CCDC I have consulted HSCHT on number of occasions for help with identifying possible building sites and discussing suitability for affordable or social housing. I have attended various conferences and seminars where HSCHT have advised delegates and shared experience.  I have also seen some inspirational HSCHT projects in other communities that I have been able to share with people in Coigach to show them what might be possible here.

Within the last year, I have had more specific involvement with HSCHT when the CCDC embarked on negotiations with Highland Council with a proposal that Achiltibuie Schoolhouse be transferred into community ownership.  HSCHT have provided advice, and joined the negotiations on our behalf. As the Trust has a good working relationship with THC I believe this was instrumental in securing the house transfer.  The major part of this project’s feasibility is due to the funding that HSCHT have secured for the house to be refurbished through the Nationwide Foundation.

I was delighted to become a director of HSCHT as I felt it was an organisation to be proud of. I have worked for a variety of employers and organizations over the years and have never seen any who are quite as organised as HSCHT when it comes to preparation for meetings. It may seem a simple thing, but efficient administration makes everyone’s life easier!  Housing and the  resulting depopulation  is the key issue for many Highland communities and there is plenty of scope for HSCHT to continue their good work in tackling housing problems in the Highlands  – if they are given the resources and support needed to achieve this essential goal.

– Julia Campbell, Coigach Community Development Company

The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust are keen to address the lack of affordable rural housing for the local community but have little experience in this area.  HSCHT have provided invaluable advice and support and have enabled KoSDT to rise to the challenge of taking on a housing project.

We would thoroughly recommend the services of HSCHT and look forward to being able to work with them on future projects.

– Catriona Hill, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust

This is to certify that I have worked with The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust as a Community Elected Board Member and also as a Member of the Sub-committees for Cairngorms Skills Project and Finance.

I like to think I have been an active participant in the growth of HSCHT and look forward to further expansion of the areas of work carried out by them as we progress toward setting up subsidiary companies and investigate the concept of a Highland wide Apprenticeship Scheme for the construction sector.

Through representation of Ardgay & District Community Council, and the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust HSCHT have been of considerable help in carrying out various projects  – including a Community Feasibility Survey, Community Buyout of the local Post Office and development of building sites in the area.

– David Hannah, Ardgay & District Community Council

The Acharacle Community Company came into contact with the HSCHT in 2013  when seeking a solution to a long term unsuccessful search for funds with which to restore one of their buildings, a bungalow sited on the property, owned by the Company and known as the Post Office Buildings in Acharacle, Argyll. The Company’s aim has been to see this property added to the stock of homes available in Acharacle at an affordable rent.
From that first contact to the signing of the Lease in 2014 the Company’s Board of Directors are in full agreement that the Trust has met all our expectations.

At all times, information regarding the process has been readily offered and any suggestions or queries from the Company addressed promptly and with courtesy. Where both parties have differed, the Trust has shown a willingness to consider their position and keen to discuss matters towards a mutually agreeable outcome.
It was very helpful to recognise that staff from the HSCHT without exception, were readily available to respond to emails or phone calls.
On site meetings were agreeable and productive. It was much appreciated that in the planning stage, all matters pertaining to the sensitive location of the  bungalow, sited next door to the busy Local Post Office and popular Tea Room, were fully understood and catered for.

The Board of the Company is in full agreement that we have had an excellent service from the HSCHT and as the work is progressing on the building, that satisfaction continues.

– Ilanora Sharp, Acharacle Community Company

We have been working with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust for several years, with a view to providing badly needed affordable housing in Applecross. Their help has been invaluable in a number of ways. The housing needs survey provided strong evidence of the need locally, as well as providing detailed information of the type of housing needed, both in terms of size and whether people were interested in renting or owning affordable housing. HSCHT have enabled serious engagement with the local landowners on potential housing sites which otherwise would have been unlikely to happen. While we have not as yet got affordable housing underway, we have made substantial progress and feel confident that there will be new affordable housing in Applecross within the next two years or so.

HSCHT takes issues such as energy efficiency very seriously, which means that housing is not only affordable in terms of rent or mortgage payments, but also affordable and comfortable to live in. This is very important in a community like Applecross where much of the current housing stock is in the hard to heat and hard to treat category, resulting in high levels of fuel poverty.

– Alison Macleod, Applecross Community Company

The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust is a hugely experienced, professional and forward-thinking organisation which has been an invaluable help to our community in the north-east of Skye.

The directors of the Staffin Community Trust were impressed with the HSCHT’s positive attitude, approach and attention to detail as we embarked on a major survey into the housing needs of the district.

The survey helped form the basis of the final hard-hitting report which attracted attention from the national and local media, plus the relevant authorities, as it succinctly summed up the housing challenges facing Staffin and the level of demand. We need to justify the case for new housing in our community and that report was, and is, vital in helping our campaign.

As the name indicates the HSCHT has experience across the region with west Highland communities facing similar housing challenges as in Staffin, including a lack of affordable homes, an ageing population, a sellers’ market and constraints on housing sites and funding. Through its strong links with the housing authorities and the wider public sector the HSCHT provides informed and insightful advice.

The Staffin Trust looks forward to working with the HSCHT for some time to come.

– Hugh Ross, Staffin Community Trust 

I found the HSCHT to be a great help to me as I investigated the possibility of affordable housing in our area.

Very obliging and full of knowledge, both Ronnie and Morven are always happy to talk and make time for you.

Long may they be there to help myself and others!!!

– Barry Sutherland, Melness and Tongue Community Development Trust

Shieldaig, like many small communities in the West Highlands, has had to cope with a range of problems arising from the growth in the number of second and holiday homes. The lack of affordable housing for local young people led at one stage to numbers in the village primary school dropping to three.

The Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) has been a key partner working with the community and Albyn Housing to help to tackle the problem. Central to this was the construction of 15 new homes, in a 3 stage development, with some to rent and some (developed by HSCHT) for owner  occupation, some for single occupation but a significant proportion for families.

The new houses at the top of the village at Baile Shuas are now fully occupied, a genuine community spirit has developed, young children are everywhere and numbers in the primary school are approaching twenty.

From a Community Council perspective it has been a pleasure working with HSCHT. They have been good listeners, co-operative partners (including with Albyn), and innovative and effective problem solvers when the inevitable difficulties arose. Latterly their new rent to buy scheme  helped to overcome the problem of the shortage of finance in the “ self build “ housing market.

I and my colleagues on the Community Council would be pleased to share our experiences with anybody who might be considering  a partnership with HSCHT.

– Richard Munday, Chairman, Shieldaig Community Council.

HSCHT carried out a housing needs analysis on behalf of the Helmsdale Community, which identified the housing needs for the community, as Helmsdale had not had any affordable housing for more than 35 years.  This evidence was used as the baseline to support applications for funding to various bodies and build the 4 new homes, 100% owned by the community.

The services provided by HSCHT were found to be of the highest quality.  This included the facilitation of the application to the Scottish Government, which resulted in funding support being received for the housing project.  We have recommended the services of HSCHT to other community groups, who have found them to be of similar quality in delivery of services to communities.

We maintain a working relationship with HSCHT, and find all members of staff very informative and experienced.

– Paul Harrington, Helmsdale & District Development Trust