A NEW charity that aims to create, inspire and promote social connections in the Howe of Fife has launched a range of unique community arts projects, to reduce social isolation and loneliness in rural communities, creating enhanced health and wellbeing and increasing community resilience.
Established in June 2021, trustees from Heids and Herts Scotland have been working with communities across the Howe of Fife, the historical name given to the fertile farming area of central Fife in the valley of the River Eden between Strathmiglo and Cupar.
‘The Village Creative’ project, supported by the University of St Andrews Community fund, features a programme of pop-up arts and creative workshops for people of all ages living in Howe of Fife villages.
Local artists will lead these half-day workshops and encourage people to sample creative activities such as pinhole photography, life drawing, animation, lettering, and creative writing.
‘My Village Hall’ is a film and podcast project supported by the Rural Communities Ideas into Action fund, supported by the Scottish Government, and delivered by Inspiring Scotland to encourage and support innovative approaches to community-led local development in rural communities across Scotland.
The short film will emphasise the importance of the village halls (there are 13 across the Howe) as vital community hubs and reflect on 100 years of village life and dynamic social change.
‘Haiver FM – Howe Community Radio’ is funded by the Fife Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, administered by Fife Voluntary Action with funding from the Scottish Government.
Haiver FM will broadcast under an Ofcom short-term restricted license for 14 days at the end of May.
Run by community volunteers, the simultaneous FM and Internet broadcast will be coordinated from a pop-up studio in Burnturk Village Hall by broadcast media graduate, Auchtermuchty local Liam Russell.
Spaces for Volunteers (18+) to get involved in all aspects of this project are available and includes an introductory starter training course in community radio broadcasting with contributions from tutors from Fife College Creative Industries Department.
Ian Harrower, chair, Heids and Herts Scotland, commented: “There has been a gradual dismantling of local infrastructure and services. The social fabric of village life has profoundly changed since I first started a business in the area back in 1985. These are all factors that contribute to social isolation and loneliness. A global pandemic has taught us that we can all experience loneliness at some point, regardless of age, circumstance, and background.
“The good news is that communities are resilient and are bouncing back. The village halls serve communities across the Howe of Fife, and most of them are community-owned and run. They are a vital resource. Governments and organisations such as WHO have researched the evidence supporting the value of the arts to alleviate loneliness.
“We look forward to working alongside local people and groups and developing a regular programme of cultural projects which can help people reconnect and promote healthier communities.”
Renowned researcher and academic Professor Karen McArdle, FRSA, Professor Emerita University of Aberdeen, sits on the Professional Advisory Panel that assist the six trustees of Heids and Herts Scotland.
She said: “Proving the arts contribute to the wellbeing of individuals and communities can be like nailing jelly to a wall, but the evidence accumulated is now absolutely overwhelming.
“Wellbeing may be defined as living a life of value to self and others and, through Heids and Herts Scotland, there is the potential for the sheer, unadulterated pleasure that goes with creativity as protagonist or audience, the challenge, the achievement, the affirmation of self, the expression of self, the fun, the joy, the planning, design and spontaneity.
“This can be lacking and inaccessible in a rural environment, so Heids and Herts Scotland is crucial to cultural democracy – the participation of rural communities in the cultural life of their locality and Scotland.”
Notes for editors:
Heids and Herts Scotland is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC051039)
Pic credit: Jenni Gudgeon, African Workshop in Dunshalt Village Hall.
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