New settlement officer appointed in the Outer Hebrides

Kareen MacRury

PEOPLE looking to live, work or study in Uist will be sure of a warm welcome to island life with the help of a new dedicated settlement officer.

To support talent to stay or come to the area, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) are funding the dedicated post. 

North Uist born, Kareen MacRury will offer a helping hand to help people who want to enjoy and adapt to island life in Uist.

The 12-month post is part of a pilot project that seeks to reverse population decline in Uist. 

A key part of Kareen’s role will be to work with partner agencies and other organisations across the Outer Hebrides to gather vital information regarding housing and other issues that people face when moving into the area. 

As well as providing guidance to people who want help to stay on the islands, Kareen will be on hand to help people planning to move to the islands. She will signpost them to the required services, while offering information on access to local services, networks and provision of overall guidance about the community.

The aim is to support the development of further projects and initiatives to help address population decline. The intended outcome is that with the right support, those moving to the area will likely stay, make a long-term commitment to the area and even encourage others to move there.

Kareen said:

“Becoming the settlement officer is an exciting opportunity. I am passionate and enthusiastic about retaining and attracting economically active people to move to the islands to live and work and helping them to experience that by becoming an islander and embrace life less ordinary, full of adventure and community spirit in a place where everyone is welcomed.”

Kareen’s post is one of three settlement officer posts, which are being established across the Highlands and Islands to assist people moving to the region, provide relocation advice and gather information about any challenges they encounter along the way, to inform future actions. 

Posts are being recruited on a 12-month pilot basis in three local authority areas – Outer Hebrides, Argyll & Bute and Highland.

While the Scottish Government develops the criteria to formalise a repopulation zone methodology, these pilot areas are taking steps to test new interventions and gather local data on the ground to support population growth and address their own particular challenges.

HIE is currently undertaking a number of areas of research and evaluation which will help inform further thinking in relation to repopulation and talent attraction. 

CnES recognises the impacts of depopulation on its islands communities and aims to support measures to reverse the decline and ensure their sustainability. Uist, as the initial pilot area, will benefit from both the direct intervention and partnership working with communities and agencies to identify and direct support where needed.

Meanwhile HIE is recruiting posts in the Outer Hebrides

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