Community-Determined Change-scapes of Recovery: Case studies across the Highlands and Islands of the impact and strategies for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

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Nov 2020 – July 2021

Funded by: SFC uplift funding for COVID recovery £100,000

PIs: Dr Vicky Johnson, Inverness College UHI and Dr Ros Bryce, Perth College UHI

University partner research centres involved: Centre for Remote and Sustainable Communities, Centre for Mountain Studies, Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, Institute for Northern Studies Orkney, Environmental Research Institute.

There is evidence that COVID-19 has had disproportionate impacts on rural, remote and marginalised communities.

The main aim of the project is to contribute new knowledge on community perspectives on attitudes to, and responses to, COVID-19, lockdown and recovery. The proposal supports systematic community-driven creative research between the UHI academic partnership and the communities of the Highlands and Islands in order to inform regional planning for a ‘just recovery’ from the crisis.

This creative and participatory research will systematically show the impacts that different members of communities and local businesses and residents feel as a result of COVID-19. It crosses over social, economic, cultural and environmental boundaries and explores the impacts through the eyes, voices and everyday lives of local people. Through common methodology and analysis, which will be synthesised across cases, it will have relevance for regional policy and practice.

The approach centres on local people as agents of change through local action planning: this process will explore ways in which different community members and stakeholders locally can take immediate action together, and what support they may need to increase such social innovation. Volunteers will take on the role of citizen scientists in this project, gaining valuable opportunities to develop new skills sets, based on social science methodologies, and to provide valuable insights on responses to COVID-19 in their own communities. Regional stakeholders including Highland Council, Highland & Islands Enterprise and Visit Scotland will engage with the research as part of a cross-case study reference group.

Reports:

Cross Case Final Report, COVID Changescape

Caithness Case Study Final Report COVID Changescapes

Lochalsh Case Study Final Report COVID Changescapes

Merkinch and South Kessock Final Report COVID Changescapes

Orkney Case Study Final Report COVID Changescapes