News Archive - January February March 2020
Many  previous items are archived in the Community, Arts, Sports and Business sections

Stay At Home Guidance - Parks, Open Spaces And Public Toilets
During this time of restrictions it is important that we all stay active, for our physical health and mental well being. Recreation outside is an important element of this, but it is essential that each of us practice good social distancing while outside. You should not travel to access the outdoors, and your time spent outside exercising should be done close to your home rather than travelling elsewhere.

Textile Recycling Banks Closed Across Highland
The public are advised that until further notice, textile bank servicing by charities across the region has ceased or is severely disrupted due to staff shortages. A Highland Council spokesperson said: "It may be tempting have a clear out while at home, but we urge people to follow the Government advice to protect yourself and others; to stay at home and only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons.

Caithness Food Bank Busier Than Ever Getting Support From Highland Highlife Staff Volunteers
Grant Ramsay
Caithness food Bank has been busier than ever but managing to keep support going in both centres in Caithness. The team of volunteers are adhering go the Covid19 guidance and quite a few are staying at home due to their age and/or vulnerability. The group are managing social distancing and now using a delivery service with the invaluable support from Highlife Highland staff volunteers.

Check out what is needed at the moment..............

Government Cracks Down On Spread Of False Coronavirus Information Online
Specialist units across government are working at pace to combat false and misleading narratives about coronavirus, ensuring the public has the right information to protect themselves and save lives. The Rapid Response Unit, operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is tackling a range of harmful narratives online - from purported ‘experts' issuing dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams.

Free hospital TV for patients
Charges covered for three months. Patients in six hospitals across Scotland are to receive free bedside television for the next three months. While restrictions are in place for visiting patients in hospitals, and in recognition of the impact this could have on the wellbeing of patients, the Scottish Government has agreed a package with broadcast providers Hospedia to give free TV to all inpatients for the next three months.

National volunteering plan for coronavirus
Campaign launched for those able to give support. A new ‘Scotland Cares' campaign has been launched to encourage people to volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.
First Food Parcels Delivered To Clinically Vulnerable People In England
The first free food boxes containing essential supplies have been delivered in England to those at highest risk from coronavirus. Government confirms first boxes have been delivered to those at highest risk from coronavirus as biggest effort to deliver supplies to those in need since World War Two begins. 1.5m clinically vulnerable people have been advised by the NHS to stay at home for 12 weeks and be shielded from coronavirus. 900,000 vulnerable people have received letters from the NHS giving them guidance this week.  First of 50,000 free food boxes containing essential supplies and household items such as pasta and tinned goods will be delivered this weekend

Government Agrees Measures With Telecoms Companies
To Support Vulnerable Consumers Through Covid-19
A joint statement from the Government, Ofcom and the telecommunications industry. Following constructive discussions with the Digital Secretary and Ofcom, the UK's major telecommunications providers have today agreed a set of important commitments to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from Covid-19. The UK's major internet service and mobile providers, namely BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all agreed the following commitments, effective immediately:

Protection For Health And Social Care Staff
Improved distribution system for vital equipment. New measures are being introduced to further improve the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health and social care staff. From Monday 30 March the improvements will both provide regular supplies and improve the distribution of masks, aprons, gloves and other crucial items of PPE direct to those on the frontline who need it.

Tenants To Be Given Extra Protection
Emergency Scottish legislation in response to coronavirus. Private and social tenants will be given increased protection from eviction during the coronavirus pandemic. Emergency legislation will increase the minimum notice period for private and social tenants to up to six months depending on the grounds used, helping to protect them from eviction.

Extra Support For Crime Victims During Pandemic
Justice Secretary announces £100,000 ‘victims fund' to help those in need. Victims of crime struggling financially amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be able to access assistance worth up to £3,000, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has announced. A victims' fund of £100,000 will help meet immediate financial needs of victims, paying for a wide range of goods and services where they have no other access to funds.

Supporting tourism through coronavirus
Economic assistance confirmed. Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing has pledged financial support following the closure of businesses including cafes, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and leisure centres.....................Self-catering accommodation and caravans will be eligible for both the one-off £10,000 grant for small businesses and the one-off £25,000 grant for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors where this is the primary source of earned income and the property is let for 140 days or more.

Thurso High School Rock Challenge  - Get The Heaphones on and sit Back for 8 Minutes - Wow
Thurso Rock ScotlandThurso High Rock Challenge

Iolaire - Well Done Thurso High - 
Thurso High School’s Rock Challenge performance was last year?! They came second in Scotland with their dance and drama interpretation of the Iolaire disaster. Despite spending months working hard towards this year’s performance, they’ve now been denied the opportunity to show the public just how fabulously these talented young people work together and the amazing things they create. It’s an 8 minute ish professionally filmed performance.

New Maritime Pics Caithness book
New Book of Caithness Maritime Photos
As a follow up to the 2020 Caithness Maritime Calendar, MaritimePics is pleased to announce a hardback A4 size book "MaritimePics Caithness". Containing full colour photographs of 76 vessels taken in Caithness, including Ferries, Cargo Ships, Support Ships, RNLB, Fishing Boats & local boats Annie Rose, Beeny, Cheryl Ann, Eun Na Mara, Karen Jane, Kestrel, Ma Rona, Sea Menace, Seagem II & Tenacity.

Towhead Heading For Subsea 7
Towhead for Subsea7 16 March 2020
Before the Lockdown emergency another huge Towhead arrived.

What Are Enterprising Companies Doing To Help Scotland's Businesses And Communities
Caroll Buxton
While the primary focus must, of course, be on saving lives, it is also incumbent on those of us responsible for supporting Scotland's economy to be doing all we can to help businesses, workers and communities through this time of extraordinary challenge. The UK and Scottish Governments have already outlined unprecedented financial and economic measures. To complement those measures, Scotland's three enterprise agencies are working together with their partners to support businesses the length and breadth of the country.

Funding for digital mental health services
Additional £3.8 million to expand support. Extra funding to develop mental health services to cope with further demand as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been confirmed by the Scottish Government.

100% rates relief for heavily-impacted sectors
Support for businesses during economic emergency. The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors along with aviation industries will be aided by rates relief to support them during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. New regulations introduced to the Scottish Parliament confirm a 100% rates relief for these sectors for the whole of 2020-21. This will cover a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents.

Supporting Suppliers During Coronavirus (covid-19) Outbreak
Economy Secretary announces help for companies. New guidance has been published for public sector organisations to support suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes: modifying terms of contracts to offer contractors relief agreeing interim payment proposals and modifications to current contracts accelerating payment practices to ensure suppliers are paid as quickly as possible.

Coronavirus (covid-19): Advice For Beekeepers
Guidelines for people working with honey bees.  Defra, Scottish Government and the Welsh Government ask you as beekeepers to be responsible and to ensure that you continue good beekeeping practices, effective stock management and health checks whilst observing the Government's guidance on COVID-19. You should follow Public Health guidance on social distancing. Everyone, including beekeepers, should avoid gatherings of more than two people and this includes at your apiary. You should maintain a distance of 2 metres between yourself and others to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus (covid-19): Advice To Owners Of Companion Animals And Livestock
Advice to owners of companion animals and livestock who may be required to self-isolate as part of government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus Guidance For Animal Owners
Advice on caring for animals during outbreak. Guidance for animal owners related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been published by the Scottish Government.

Highland Council Helpline Now Up And Running
Highland Council Helpline during Corona Crisis
The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19. The single line number - 0300 303 1362 - will connect callers to relevant Council specialist teams and will operate Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm. All calls are free. Callers will be able to get advice on benefits and personal support, education and social care and there will also be advice for businesses who may need help with financial support. Helpline staff will also be signposting callers to other organisations that can provide help and assistance as well as gathering offers from individuals or community groups wishing to volunteer.   Business Index   Community Index
Public urged to keep eyes and ears open for children at risk during COVID-19
With the closure of schools and nurseries during the COVID-19 crisis, a national child protection group is urging everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for children who may be at risk during this time. Child Protection Committees Scotland, a national grouping of child protection professionals, supports all efforts by the Scottish Government, local authorities and the third sector to keep children safe from harm during the enforced break in normal routine......The onus of care has now shifted from schools to local communities, and we're asking everyone to keep their eyes and ears open............

All Highland Council play parks closed
Signs are going up at Highland Council play parks to reinforce the message that they are all closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and will remain closed until further notice. The Highland-wide closures are for health and safety reasons and are in line with the latest national guidance to limit the spread of Coronavirus.  Community Index

Caithness FM will be broadcasting 7pm to 10pm daily from Monday 30th March
Caithness FM has been off air for a few days but will be back starting Monday. Groups who are working to help our community please let us know what you are doing, what help you need or any other message you would like the public to hear.    Community Index

Employers Notice
HMRC - Claim For Wage Costs Through The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Guidance for employers on the coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme.

Employees Notice
HMRC - Check If You Could Be Covered By The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Find out if your employer is eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they're unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Further details will be published shortly.

John O'Groats Trail Spring 2020 Newsletter
A Trall Bridge
2019 was a big year for the JOGT. Numbers on the trail were way up, and a pilot ranger programme was a success. Though 2020 will be a challenging year for us all, we will continue to improve the trail. But we need your help.

March Donation and Membership Appeal Our online donations provider "" has notified us they are shutting down due to knock-on effects of the coronavirus. Their last day in operation is this Tuesday, 31 March. They have assured us that all donations made up to and on that day will be deposited to our account.

Social Distancing Enforcement Measures In Place
New powers will help ensure compliance and save lives. Businesses and the public in Scotland are now required by law to follow necessary social distancing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Scottish Government is using powers from the UK Coronavirus Bill to make it a criminal offence to flout the strict public health guidance that is helping save lives.

Highland Council To Launch E-vouchers For Free School Meals
Highland Council will be providing e-vouchers to families to support access to free school meals from week commencing 30 March 2020. This innovative and easy-to-use service will ensure over 4,000 school children will continue to receive support for school meals while schools are closed. For the majority of pupils, this will be delivered digitally through e-vouchers for food in local supermarkets.  To commence From Monday 30th March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Has Been Tested Positive For Coronavirus
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter Friday 27 March 2020 to ay he has been tested positive for Corona Virus
The prime minster Boris Johnson has tested positive for Corona Virus. He has mild symptoms so far and will self isolate. He intends to continue working at present using video conferencing to keep in touch with his officials.

The prime minister posted a video message about his condition on Twitter.

Keeping Healthcare Workers Safe - Extra Respirators Brought Into Use
Action has been taken to bring an additional 1.5 million protective respirators into use from NHS Scotland's central stockpile.

Firefighters And Retired Emergency Workers To Help With Coronavirus Problems
Firefighters in UK look set to become ambulance drivers if necessary. In addition Ex-police and ambulance staff urged to return to duty.

Coronavirus And The Upcoming Rise In The National Living Wage
Over the past decade employment has grown very strongly, from 29 million to 33 million in work (70% and 76% of the working age population). At the same time wages have grown at historically slow rates. The government response has been to cut working age benefits and to increase minimum wages. There are problems with such a policy, but it makes some sense in the context of a low wage, high employment labour market.

The Economic Response To Coronavirus Will Substantially Increase Government Borrowing
Only taking account of measures announced so far, and even if the economy “only" shrinks by 5% per cent this year,we might expect borrowing in the coming financial year to exceed £175 billion, or more than 8% of national income. This would be more than triple the amount forecast in the Budget just two weeks ago.

Caithness General Hospital Prepared For Covid 19 Patients
Caithness General Hospital in Wick have made a number of changes within the hospital to prepare to receive Covid 19 patients. The maternity unit (Henderson) has been moved to the ground floor with the unit being reserved now for the arrival of any patients with Covid 19.

Covid-19: Care At Home
NHS Highland (Highland Council area) Adult Social Care supports approximately 6000 people
in the community. This community will be largely the most vulnerable community population when it comes to Covid-19. It is anticipated that delivery of care for our most vulnerable people, throughout Highland, Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, will be required to stretch further and we therefore need to ensure that available care packages are focussed on those who need it most.

Covid-19 - Dental Services In Highland
Routine dental care services in high street practices in Scotland have been suspended. If you feel you have an URGENT dental need, in normal working hours, you should contact your practice, who will provide advice, reassurance or telephone assessment. DO NOT GO ALONG TO YOUR DENTIST - you should telephone your practice on their usual number. Your dentist will be able to give you advice, including on taking pain relief or prescribe antibiotics.

Covid-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme - HMRC Notice After Chancellors Announcment
Self-employed people do not need to get in touch with HMRC as the scheme isn't yet open for applications. HMRC will contact eligible customers by the beginning of June, inviting them to apply.

New £100 Million Campaign To Reach Up To A Billion People Globally To Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus
The UK government is working with Unilever to fund a global programme to urgently tackle the spread of coronavirus. The programme will reach up to a billion people worldwide, raising awareness and changing behaviour, to make sure people are washing their hands with soap regularly and disinfecting surfaces. It is backed by funding of up to £50 million each from both the Department for International Development and Unilever. Over 20 million hygiene products in the developing world, including in areas where there is little or no sanitation. Such support is vital to stop the spread of the disease in the developing world and will also limit its further potential spread in the UK. Tackling the disease in developing countries will also reduce its potential future impact .

Chancellor Gives Support To Millions Of Self-employed Individuals
Rishi Sunak - Cancellorof Exchequer announces huge funding packeg for Self Employed
Rishi Sunak announces world-leading scheme to support the UK’s self-employed affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month latest announcement in an unprecedented package of government support to protect businesses and individuals Millions of self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grants though a ground-breaking UK-wide scheme to help them during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today. In the latest step to protect individuals and businesses, Rishi Sunak has set out plans that will see the self-employed receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

G20 Leaders' Summit - Statement On Covid-19: 26 March 2020
5 Trillion dollars
to Be Injected To the World Economy. G20 leaders made a statement on COVID-19 after a virtual summit. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness and vulnerabilities. The virus respects no borders. Combatting this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity. We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat.

PM Announces Record Funding To Find A Coronavirus Vaccine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced record funding to find a coronavirus vaccine. Prime Minister calls on world leaders to collaborate to speed up vaccine development for coronavirus. UK is now the biggest contributor to the international coalition to find a vaccine, with £210 million further funding announced today. UK also announcing new funding to accelerate production of rapid tests and treatments for the virus. Total amount of UK aid spent fighting coronavirus now stands at £544 million.

Tax Helpline To Support Businesses Affected By Coronavirus (covid-19)
New HMRC helpline launched to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed.

Protecting Workers During Coronavirus Outbreak
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop and STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith have issued a joint statement outlining the shared commitment to fair work practices in Scotland. The statement calls on employers, trades unions and workers to work together to reach the right decisions on all workplace issues that arise throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and ensure workers are treated fairly.

Scottish Government begins monitoring uptake and provision of childcare places
The Scottish Government has begun monitoring the uptake and provision of places in early learning and childcare settings. This includes private and third-sector all-day childcare services including nurseries, out of school care and childminders (not local authority settings). Information in relation to local authority settings will be gathered on a separate survey.

New Highland Third Sector Covid 19 Web Site
You will see plenty of useful information all in one place. There is a register of activities, a space to register your activity, register for volunteering opportunities. The site is going to grow fast in the next few days

Statement From Transport Scotland On Restrictions On Non-essential Ferry Travel Coronavirus - Covid-19
Statement from Transport Scotland on restrictions on non-essential ferry travel to Scotland's remote and island communities In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government has made clear the need to avoid all but essential travel by ferry to Scotland's remote and island communities. From Sunday 22 March 2020, until further notice, ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland and for essential supplies or business. Nothing else. Only if a prospective traveller can evidence that they are either an island resident, a key worker or travelling to provide medical support to family members will they be sold a ticket and permitted to travel. For residents that evidence could be a recent utility bill plus photo ID or Island Card.

Urgent Letter From Maree Todd MSP To All Child Minders
Following the Scottish and UK Government's announcements on 23 March 2020 about the latest measures necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, this guidance note sets out the implications for childminding services in Scotland.
Charities and Coronavirus: An update from the regulator In Scotland - OSCR
OSCR - The Scottish Charities Regulator
has issued a range of informtation and guidance on several topics - submitting returns, AGM's and more.

Energy Advice During Covid19 Outbreak
If you have a pre-payment meter you are encouraged to try to keep at least 14 days' worth of credit on your meter(s) in case you need to self isolate. You should contact your electricity/gas supplier straightaway if for any reason you can’t top up your meter. This includes if you are ill with coronavirus or following guidance to stay at home and self-isolate, and if you don’t have anyone to help you. Your supplier will discuss with you what options there are to offer you support.

Government Launches Coronavirus Information Service On Whatsapp
The UK Government has today launched a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp. The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.

Vehicle Owners To Be Granted Mot Exemption In Battle Against Coronavirus
Temporary exemption will enable vital services to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine during the COVID-19 outbreak.
**cars, motorcycles and vans to be granted MOT exemption**
**this will allow people to carry on with essential travel**
**vehicles must be kept in roadworthy condition

Coronavirus Support For Seafood Fishing Industry
Extra payments to help sector through coronavirus outbreak.
The seafood sector is to receive an initial package of more than £5 million in financial support to assist businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Funding will be offered to over 650 seafood fishing companies, many of whom have lost their livelihoods with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.

Key Worker Hubs Set Up By Highland Council
The Council has been working at pace to set up centres for the children of key workers. Anyone who has applied for a place at one of the key worker hubs in the Highland Council area will be contacted by the end of today (Wednesday 25th) with confirmation of the arrangements that have been put in place. The centres are expected to be hosted at the following schools: Millburn Academy, Inverness Royal Academy; Dingwall Academy; Portree High School; Lochaber High School; Ullapool Academy; Golspie High School, Noss Primary and Miller Academy.

Highland Council Helpline Now Up And Running From 2.00pm Today
The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19. The number will be live from 2:00pm today (Wednesday 25 March) The single line number - 0300 303 1362 - will connect callers to relevant Council specialist teams and will operate Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm. All calls are free.

Homelessness - Delivering Statutory Services - No Evictions Now
Due to the COVID19 restrictions and the closure of Council Service Points, there has been a change in the way Highland Council provides its Homeless services. If you become Homeless, please contact the Council's Service Centre on 01349 886602 (during office hours) and 01349 886691 (out of hours) for further help and support. All contact should be made by telephone in the first instance.   Evictions Temproarily Stopped.

Covid-19 (coronavirus) - Advice For Highland Council Tenants
As a landlord, the Council's priority is maintaining the welfare of our tenants and providing you with essential services at this difficult time. The situation is changing daily, but this bulletin contains the most up-to-date information about where you can seek advice if you have any concerns about your wellbeing, income or other tenancy matters.

Virtual Roundtable: Impact of COVID-19 on the charities sector Registration, Thu 26 Mar
Virtual meeting to advise on what is happening for charities
For COVID-19 and charities - what do you need to know? An Online Session. - One hour 12.30 - 1.30pm Thursday 26 March.
The aim of this session is to provide an overview of the most pressing employment law and governance issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis, together with pragmatic dialogue on best practice. Covering the latest Government announcements in relation to staff and what they mean for charities as well as governance issues.

Meygen Granted £1.545m For Pioneering Subsea Hub From The Scottish Government
SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited ("Atlantis")
, a global developer, owner and operator of sustainable energy projects, is pleased to advise that MeyGen Plc ("MeyGen") has been awarded a £1.545 million grant from the Scottish Government's Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to develop a subsea tidal turbine connection hub for the next phase of development of the MeyGen tidal power array, the world's largest tidal stream power project.

Supporting Coronavirus Key Workers
Further guidance to employers published. To ensure front line staff in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) have access to essential childcare provision, employers are being urged to think critically about what staff are considered key workers. The plea from the Scottish Government and COSLA comes as further guidance on key workers is published.

Shielding People At Risk From Coronavirus
Tailored support to protect those at highest risk. New guidance and local support is being implemented to help shield around 200,000 of the most at-risk Scots from coronavirus (COVID-19). The measures are tailored towards supporting people with the highest risk of severe illness from the virus, as identified by the UK's Chief Medical Officers. Scotland’s CMO Dr Catherine Calderwood will also be writing to those identified as being at greatest risk in the coming days to provide further information and bespoke guidance on how to best protect themselves from infection.

Emergency Coronavirus Powers
UK Coronavirus Bill supported by MSPs. The Scottish Parliament has backed measures contained in UK emergency legislation that will help strengthen Scotland's response to coronavirus (COVID-19). The UK Coronavirus Bill, which was introduced to the House of Commons on 19 March, includes new reserved and devolved laws that will help to slow the spread of the virus.

Campsites And Caravan Parks To Close
Visitors staying on leisure sites asked to return home. In line with recent advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) announced by the First Minister, campsites, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland are to close immediately to new arrivals, including tourers, other transient visitors and holiday lets. Sites should also advise current visitors and owners of second homes on sites to return home and stay at home, where they can do so safely and practically.

Covid-19 Testing To Get Key Workers Back To Work
Prioritised testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) will allow key health and social care workers to return to work, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

Business Grant Applications Sought - Grants £10,000 and £25,000 Now Available
The Highland Council today launched on behalf of the Scottish Government, the COVID-19 business grant scheme. Grants of £10,000 and £25,000 are available for eligible businesses.
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one off grant of £25,000 if operating in that sector as at 17 March 2020.  
Only one grant is allowed per ratepayer regardless of the number of premises held.
 Nearly 5700 businesses in Highland are eligible for the grants.  Apply now online.
Statement From Northlink Ferries
Stuart Garrett, Serco's Managing Director of NorthLink Ferries, said: "The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is always our top priority and since the outset of COVID-19 we have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure their health and safety. We have followed relevant guidelines and advice from the Government and health officials and continue to do so. It is for this reason that restrictions have been implemented to allow only necessary travel between the Scottish mainland and Northern Isles and a reduced on board offering. Whilst we do continue to provide a lifeline service we would like to remind all passengers to adhere to Government guidelines when travelling with us for the safety of themselves, their families and our staff."

Get Fit - P.E With Joe - Live Workout For Kids Daily
This has gone global on Youtube - a daily work out every day at 9.00am

Highland Council Issues Householders With Guidance On Recycling And Waste Services During Coronavirus

Urgent Announcement From Today
Council Responds To Government Lockdown - School Meals Cancelled From Tuesday 24 March
In light of the UK and Scottish Government's decision tonight to begin a three-week lockdown in order to delay the spread of the Coronavirus, the Highland Council has taken the decision to cancel the provision of school meals tomorrow Tuesday 24th March. The current format of provision would involve staff and children gathering at school premises and this would go against national advice and directives.
PM Boris Johnson Address To The Nation On Coronavirus: 23 March 2020  - Country Move Into Lockdown
Boris Johnson 23 March 2020 - Stay at home enforcements
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on coronavirus. Introducing a near lockdown, All non food stores or pharmacies to be closed.  Gatherngs of more than two people you donot live with now banned.  

Police Get New enforcement Powers


First Minister Covid-19 Update
Nicola Sturgeon 23 March 2020
For everyone, you must stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to go out, and that includes working from home, wherever possible. Stay away from crowded places - even out of doors. And when there are other people around, stay two metres distant from them. That advice is for everyone, but it is especially vital if you are over 70, eligible for the flu vaccine, or pregnant.

Benefit Claimants Are Asked To Apply Online As Jobcentres Limit Access
People are being urged to use online services before turning to the telephone for help with their benefit claim. With a rise in new claims, and with demand for support over the phone increasing, the Department for Work and Pensions is taking unprecedented action to make sure people can get the support they need, including moving 10,000 existing staff to focus on processing new claims.
Those looking to put in a claim for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance should apply online. For more information visit Understanding Universal Credit

Additional Increases to Benefits
From 6 April the government is increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

Social Care At Heart Of Response To Coronavirus (covid-19)
Scottish Government to meet increased costs.
Councils have been asked to increase support for care at home, nursing homes and care homes to reduce delayed discharges and free up hospital beds. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has confirmed to COSLA that, subject to expenditure being aligned to local plans, the Scottish Government will meet additional costs to increase support and staff capacity in social care. The move aims to help the care system adapt to increased pressure placed on it by COVID -19, with many people requiring continued support for daily living, even if they have not contracted the virus.

Isolation Note From NHS - Do Not Contact GP's
If you need a sick note due to coronavirus, don’t contact your GP or NHS 24. You can download an isolation note directly from NHS Inform

New NHS 24 Arrangements For Coronavirus
Patients with concerns about symptoms advised to dial 111 if they need help. Patients with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms are now asked to dial NHS 24 on 111, day or night, if their symptoms worsen or do not improve after seven days.

Support For Business Water Bills
Relaxation of charges to help with coronavirus pressures. A package of measures worth £60 million has been agreed between the Scottish Government and the water industry to help businesses facing difficulties with water charges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means providers - who supply water services to businesses - can be flexible with their own customers at this difficult time.

Highland Council New Helplines to be launched tomorrow
The Highland Council is preparing to launch dedicated Freephone helplines from tomorrow. One will focus on providing advice and support for people who want to know how they can volunteer and for anyone needing assistance and help. There will also be helplines for anyone with education enquiries.

Back To School Online
Highland Digital School Hub -
A Growing Resource
The Highland Council DigiLearn website has a wide range of resources for pupils at all levels from Early to Senior Phase as well as those with ASN.
Wick High Online Learning Reseources
BBC Bitesize

Enhanced Role For Community Pharmacists
Pharmacists empowered to help more patients during COVID-19 outbreak. Community pharmacists are to perform an enhanced role during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Pharmacists will be able to support more patients, reducing the pressure on other parts of NHS Scotland through the extension of the Minor Ailment Service.

Caithness Citizens Advice
Telephone Advice only for now.

Health Advice
NHS Inform Coronavirus
Fit For Work
Taking Sick Leave

For Many People The Benefits System May Be Completely New - Here are Links To Help
Claiming Benefits - Checking benefit entitlement
Benefits Calculator
Benefits For Carers
Other Sources Of Advice

Employee and Business Support
COVID-19: support for businesses
COVID-19: guidance for employees

Coronavirus - Business Support To Launch From Today
Businesses will be able to access government support from today (Monday 23 March) to keep operating in the face of the global economic emergency brought on by coronavirus. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will provide government-backed loans of up to £5 million to small and medium businesses.

Covid-19 Essential Travel Guidance - No Travel To Second Homes, Camp Sites Etc
Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence.

The UK Government Has Effectively Nationalised The Railways Today
The UK government is effectively nationalising the state's railways for a temporary period, it has been announced.
Rail franchise agreements are to be suspended to avoid train companies collapsing due to the coronavirus, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
Operators will be paid a small management fee to run services, with all revenue and cost risk transferred to the Government.

Government Ensures Ticket Refunds And Protects Services For Passengers With Rail Emergency Measures Offer includes measures to provide fee-free refund of all advance tickets as passengers follow government advice and work from home The government is taking emergency measures to support and sustain necessary rail services as operators face significant drops in their income. The Department for Transport will temporarily suspend normal franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the government for a limited period, initially 6 months. Operators will continue to run services day-to-day for a small predetermined management fee. Terms and conditions of employment for rail workers will not change.
Latest Updates Regarding Train Travel
Following the latest government update on COVID-19, we would like to reassure customers that everyone across Scotland's Railway is working flat out to provide transport for people delivering essential services. With the unprecedented global crisis, staff availability in ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland has been affected, as well as customer demand. That's why, from Monday, 23 March 2020, we'll be operating a revised timetable.

Major New Measures To Protect People At Highest Risk From Coronavirus
A raft of new measures, including a helpline for the most in need of support, have been set out for those considered to be extremely vulnerable. Government urges up to 1.5 million people in England who face the highest risk of being hospitalised by the virus to shield themselves and stay at home.   Scotland is sending simialr information out to 200,000 people.

Consumers Asked To Shop Considerately
Behaviour fuelling perception of food shortages. As increasing numbers of supermarkets and shops try to deal with the challenge of replenishing shelves in time to meet demand, the Scottish Government has asked consumers to shop considerately - in particular to ensure those in the frontline of dealing with COVID-19 are able to get the supplies they need.

Coronavirus Guidance For Parents And Families
Guidance available on Parent Club to help with impact of Covid-19. Advice for parents and carers on managing the impact of Covid-19 on their child's learning and family life is now available. Following school closures, a new hub of information has been created on covering health information, advice on how to talk about Covid-19 and ideas on helping children through this time. In addition; councils and headteachers can also advise parents and carers on the continued provision of education and childcare for key workers.

Flexibility On Alcohol Rules Needed
Supporting drinks manufacturers to respond to Covid-19. Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for greater flexibility on alcohol tax and regulations for alcoholic drink manufacturers that are now looking to produce hand sanitiser in response to Covid-19. In the letter Ms Forbes has urged for priority and support to be given to companies who have offered to make hand sanitiser for the NHS and frontline staff.

Coronavirus travel warning for Highlands and Islands
Tourism Secretary angry about 'irresponsible behaviour'. Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing is urging people to stop travelling to the Highlands and Islands in a bid to avoid the Coronavirus. People with second homes and campervans have been reportedly travelling to the area in recent days

Supporting Those Affected By Debt
Sales and evictions halted during COVID-19 outbreak. Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has suspended sale and eviction from property in ongoing bankruptcy administrations until further notice in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. New measures and greater flexibility are also being introduced by AiB - Scotland's insolvency service - to simplify procedures to help those seeking debt relief through bankruptcy, or need more time to pay their debts through the Debt Arrangement Scheme.
All Church Services Are Cancelled For The Foreseeable Future
Ony close relatives to attend funerals

HMRC has set up pages fullof information and advice for Employers and Employees
Government has made many announcements and changes in recent days so it wil pay to look carefully if you need assistance.  Further changes are likely in coming days particularly in respect of self-employed people.

COVID-19: support for businesses

COVID-19: guidance for employees

My Welfare -
information and how to apply for many benefits including emergency income etc

Coronavirus - school and ELC closures: guidance on critical childcare and learning provision for key workers
Employers and Employees - Do Not Make Any Rash Decisions Until You Read The Package Of Announcments
Many people are worried and about to make decisions on their future both as employers or employees.  But you need to take some time to understand the truly massive package of new measures of support announced by Rishi Sunak the Chancellor today - - - - -

Chancellor Announces Workers' Support Package
A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people's wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.

Covid-19: Support For Businesses

a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 the

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank

a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans the

HMRC Time To Pay Scheme Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Eligibility All UK businesses are eligible.

Driving Tests And Mots For Heavy Vehicles Suspended For Up To 3 Months
To Help Tackle Spread Of Coronavirus

Items are coming in so fast that to see them all you need to check past the front page in the Business Index
Front Page        Page Two      Page Three       March items start on Page Nine  
Not all items appear on this page

Ibuprofen use and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. Until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you. We are aware there has been concern spreading about the use of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) in relation to COVID-19.            Community Index

Coronavirus and claiming benefits
UK government page provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits. It will continue to be updated.

Reduced Rail Timetable Agreed To Protect Train Services And Staff
Reduced Train Services
Government and rail operators across the UK agree reductions in service levels following reduced passenger demand as people change their travel patterns to help tackle spread of COVID-19.
Move will keep core services running to ensure those who need to get to work, including emergency services and NHS can continue to do so. joint decision also enables important freight services to continue, ensuring sector can support
movement of goods and supplies while passenger services continue for those most at need. The government and the UK rail industry have agreed a plan that will see a gradual reduction in train services across the country to reflect lower passenger demand, while keeping vital rail services running.   Business Index

Highland Council Help For Hospitality And Tourism Workers Affected By Covid19 Crisis
The Highland Council is urging those from the hospitality and tourism sector who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis to get in touch for support. The Highlands has a large seasonal workforce, many living in ties accommodation provided by their employer. The local authority is aware there may be individuals who have lost employment and potentially accommodation following decisions made by some businesses.

Highland Council Universal Credit Claimants Urged To Act Ahead Of Annual Rent Increase
Highland Council tenants claiming Universal Credit are being urged to look out for messages from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The messages, due to start being sent to claimants from the 6th April 2020 will remind people to log on to their online journal and complete a to-do ‘Report any changes to your housing costs' to ensure their entitlement covers their annual rent increase for the year ahead.   Business Index

Highlands And Islands Enterprise - Latest Covid19 Guidance
HIE is doing all it can to gather information and work with Scottish Government to ensure that the appropriate support is reaching our communities and local economy. We hope to soon have more detail about how to access the recently announced Scottish Government grants to help communities affected by Covid19........Check the page for links and numbers to call. More Items in the Business Pages

Reduced Trains Timetables From Monday 23 March 2020 Due To Corona Virus
With the unprecedented global crisis, staff availability in ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland has been affected, as well as customer demand. That's why, from Monday, 23 March 2020, we'll be operating a revised timetable.

Changes To Bus Services Across The Highlands  - Reduced Services From Monday 23 March
Temporary changes to bus services across the Highlands are being introduced by Stagecoach from Monday 23rd March 2020 following new government advice around social contact and non-essential travel to help combat the coronavirus. A reduced timetable will operate across the region until further notice. The timetables have been carefully created to ensure that critical routes are maintained wherever possible.   Business Index

Hearing and Sight Care - closing of centres in Thurso and Wick
In light of the recent advice from NHS Highland in relation to the Coronavirus we have decided to close both of our drop-in centres in Wick and Thurso. This is an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus and keep our service users and staff safe and well. We are however offering a postal service for issue of batteries and repairs.
Wick High School Ready To Learn Digitally During Corona Virus Emergency
Wick High Ready for Digital Learning At Home
As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis unfolds, we will post information for parents and pupils here. Please check daily for updates or subscribe to our website's news service by clicking on the ‘Follow Wick High School' option on the Wick High page.
As with other schools across the country we will be heavily reliant on online learning and resources to stay in contact with our students. The majority of this contact will take place through Google Classroom and can be easily accessed with the student's Chromebook or through any internet enabled device which is logged in to the pupil's Google Chrome account.

Scottish Government Advice for unpaid carers on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Anyone providing regular support to a vulnerable friend or relative will want to do what they can to protect their own health and the health of those they look after during the coronavirus outbreak. Like everyone, unpaid carers (including young carers) and people being cared for should familiarise themselves with the public health advice on how to protect themselves from infection.

Highlife Highland To Close All Archive Centres, Libraries, Leisure Centres, Museums And Swimming Pools
Highlife Highland closing facitlies
High Life Highland today confirmed that the Charity has reached the difficult decision to close all archive centres, libraries, leisure centres, museums and swimming pools across the Highlands in line with both Scottish Government and UK Government's advice to minimise social contact.
"We have offered our members the chance to suspend their membership during this period; however, on the basis the Charity will continue to pay our staff during this challenging period we are hopeful that our high life members will actually continue to pay their monthly subscriptions, effectively as a charity donation. This will help us retain our dedicated staff and ensure our facilities are prepared for when we re-open.
"Although the ‘doors will be closing' to the public, we will still be engaging and paying staff who may be working at their usual locations. Many of our staff will be deployed to work in partnership supporting the Council's resilience programme throughout Highland communities. There will be much that our team members can contribute to our communities as we face the challenge of the pandemic."
Many new items regarding Coronavirus affects in the Business and Community sections today.

Highland Council Focuses On Delivering Statutory Services
The Highland Council is planning for greatly increased staff absence levels over the coming days and weeks. National modelling estimates that councils will see absences of at least 50% over the months ahead. We are no longer operating under business as usual, in order to focus on priority and statutory services.

Highland Council Trading Standards Issues Advice On Covid-19 Scams
In the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Highland Council Trading Standards are issuing a warning to the public about a series of new scams related to the virus.

Highland Council to issue much more information regarding School Closures on Friday

Caithness Field Club - Saturday 21st March: A walk to the site of the old Wolfburn distillery
Cancelled due to Coronavirus

First Minister announces all Schools In Scotland To Close By End Of This Week

All Highland Ranger Activities Cancelled
Rangers come under the Highland Highlife rulings

ERI, Thurso Cancels Events

Many Items and Updates In Our Business SectionToday
Stories Posted today   Page 2 For More

Merlin Cinema InThurso Closed Until Further Notice From Today
At Merlin Cinemas we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our employees and customers. With this in mind and following government guidelines we have made the difficult decision to shut our cinemas, bars and restaurants as of the close of business today, Tuesday 17th March 2020, until further notice.

Coronavirus Action Plan At Lyth Arts Centre - Check Shows Cancelled
Updated today on Lyth Arts Centre web site

Here at Lyth Arts Centre, we've already taken steps towards keeping our audiences happy and healthy with the recent Coronavirus developments. The situation is changing daily and we will communicate any changes or updates directly to you, the audience as and when required.   Arts Index

High Life Highland Covid-19 Announcement About Events
Steve Walsh, Chief Executive of High Life Highland today confirmed that his teams were working hard to ensure that the Charity was closely following the recommendations made by the Scottish and UK Governments. Mr Walsh said, "Statements made by the Prime Minister and First Minister last night represented a decisive alteration in the guidance for social interaction. Whether it is in Leisure, Community Centres, Libraries, Visitor Attractions, Music Tuition, Sport, Archives, Youth Work or Adult Learning, High Life Highland's purpose is one that brings individuals, groups and communities together. The challenge we face in reducing social interaction is therefore significant, and our sense of moral responsibility, acute.

Caithness Community Chorus Friday - Cancelled

Wick Fiddle and Accordion Club Cancelled Tonight

Face To Face Benefit Assessments Cease From today
Call For Suspension Of Face-to-face Benefit Assessments To Be Made Permanent

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed news that face-to-face social security assessments are to be suspended during the coronavirus outbreak and have called on the UK Government for the change to be made permanent.

Event Cancellation - Thurso Grows Herb Growing Workshop Wednesday 18th March -
Cancelled Due To Coronavirus Advice

Event Cancellation - Wick Walking Group today - Cancelled due to Cronavirus advice

Event Cancellation Today - Nurdle hunt At Dunnet 
Rangers have notified - Due to the ongoing Coronavirus issues the public nurdle hunt at Dunnet beach today has been cancelled.

Wick Community Council Asks Highland Council To Halt Parking Charges Consultation Due To Coronavirus
Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council have sent the following to Highland Council with regards to Offstreet Car Parking Charges Consultation: Developments have been moving fast over the weekend with regards to what to do and not what to do with regards to the CoronaVirus Covid-19. At this moment in time we are unchartered territory and we do not know what additional recommendations are going to be coming in.

Event Cancellation - The History Of Wick Players
"Wick Players are sorry to announce that due to the restrictions suggested by the government, the talk on the history of the club which was to take place on Thursday 19th March has been CANCELED.

Cancellation of Events In the Whatson Section - Please check if events are still on before you go
Several events have already been cancelled in the light of updates on Coronavirus from the government and Highland council.  Some groups are meeting tonight and others expect updates tomorrow so the whatson section will probably show more cancellations.  However we may not get notified of every cancellation so please check before you try to attend.  Will all grousp organising events let us know if their events are cancelled so we can update the listing. Just send emails to

Cancellation of All of Caithness International Science Festival Events
Unfortunately the Science Festival organisers have received the latest news from the Highland council in face of the evolving Coronavirus crisis. "In line with national guidance, the Council has moved from containment to delay. Council services are now developing and implementing continuity plans. We are no longer in a business as normal situation, and as a result we will be delivering reduced and targeted services. It is important to note that as a council we are clear that, to reduce the spread of the virus, we are no longer running our services as normal. Please note that the following steps must be taken:
Corona Virus Brings Caithness Community Together to Help
Deliver For Caithness - New Caithness Facebook Group To Help Anyone With Difficulties Shopping etc
Deliver for Caithness
Brooks Carter the Aministrator for the new group said,"
We can all help each other. We know self isolation will come at some point so it will be a good thing if we all use a bit of free time to deliver food ect to those who are on lockdown. They order what they want from whatever shop and post on here for collection, our nice members agree to go and pick up the delivery then drop it outside the door for them"

Wick Academy Cancels all Games
Suspension of Football This takes immediate effect, starting with this weekend's matches. This means that all Wick Academy matches including the first team, under 15's and under 17's games are postponed until further notice. This incudes a bounce game that the first team were planning for Saturday the 14th March.

Caithness General Hospital Shop Closed Due To CoronaVirus Advice
The little shop run by the volunteers of RVS is now closed until further notice.

All SPFL and Highland League matches cancelled.
ALL matches in the Scottish Professional Football League and the Highland League have been cancelled amid coronavirus fears.

All Scottish Rugby Matches Cancelled

Caithness Science Festival - Some Cencellations Due To Coronavirus Advice
Family Fun Day Cancelled, Saturday 21 st March 2020

Science O3 are disappointed to announce that due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and considering current advice from The Scottish Government, the committee have taken the decision to cancel the Caithness International Science. Tonight's Caithness Astronomy Group event will be modified, as the presenter can no longer attend.
Tomorrow’s CAG event is cancelled. Wednesday’s event, ‘Out for the Count’ is also cancelled.
UK Budget - Many Details in the Business Section
The chancellor announced the biggest spending budget in over 30 years. He announced £30bn of help to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and more than £600bn for infrastructure spending over the next five years. The Chancellor also revealed he will revise the fiscal rules set out by his predecessor, launch a review into business rates and give the NHS an extra £6bn. £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services
£3,000 Grant To Around 700,000 Businesses In England
Barnet Forumla Gives Extra to Scotland £640 Million, Wales £360 Million And Northern Ireland £210 Million
Living Wage Increased
Much much more.......

Towheads Travelling Through Wick To Subsea 7 Wester Site - 13 March 2020

Towheads Travelling Through Wick To Subsea 7 Wester Site - 16 March 2020

Towheads Travelling Through Wick To Subsea 7 Wester Site - 17 March 2020
A LONG-established Thurso butcher's shop is to take on a new lease of life
A & E Harold Butchers - changes affoot
A &E Harrold's premises in High Street have been purchased by the Thurso Foot Clinic - but will be remaining as a butcher's for up to a year. John Logue, of JPL Shellfish of Scrabster, is renting the building from the new owners and will be based there until his new butcher's shop is built beside the fish shop at the harbour Mr Logue said: "We are renting the premises for between six and 12 months until we construct a new butcher shop. It will be under the same roof as our fish shop - A Mackay's old one.
      Business Index

Sight Action's Short Sharp Campaign Success To Be Celebrated With Supporter Rhoda Grant MSP
Rhoda Grant to celebrate Sight Action campaign success
Sight Action
asks MSP Rhoda Grant to co-host thank you reception for clients and politicians who campaigned to save an established model of support services delivered by Sight Action. A THANK YOU reception is being thrown for clients and politicians who campaigned to save an established model of support services Sight Action delivers. The event, co-hosted by MSP Rhoda Grant, will take place at Sight Action's Beechwood base next month.
MSP Rhoda Grant has said she is ‘delighted' that NHS Highland has back-tracked over plans to see its successful and long-standing alliance with Sight Action severed.
Events escalated in the last few weeks when the charity’s Executive Manager Gillian Mitchell warned it could not bid to renew its contract with NHS Highland because the health board was unwilling to adequately fund this model of service, even in the short term.  Community Index
Pentland Venture Returning To Wick After 3 Week Maintenance
Pentland Venture Returns to Wick after painting and maintenance at Fraserburgh
The John O’Groats Ferry Pentland Venture entering Wick Harbour this afternoon 5 March 2020. She has just returned from a 3 week Maintenance Period in Fraserburgh which included a fresh coat of paint.

Update - 16 March 2020 - All Events Cancelled due To Coronavirus Advice

Caithness International Science Festival 2020
2nd - 21st March 2020

Caithness Science Festival 2020

Caithness International Science Festival 2020 will run from Monday 2nd - Saturday 21st March and includes a public and schools programme, culminating in the Family Fun Day. Attendees can expect to hear about space exploration, virtual reality, climate change, future fuels, exotic animals, robotics and much more at these exciting and interactive events.

Check Out Whats On At The Festival

Updated 13 March 2020 - Following Scottish Government Adviceon Cronavirus
Some Cancellations Due To Coronavirus Advice

Caithness Science Festival 2020Caithness Science Festival 2020

Festival Launch    Are You A Scientist?    Family Fun Day    Your Beautiful Biased Brain 

Industrial Caithness Exhibition    Science and Ancient Grains    Diverse Planet Poster Exhibition

Out For The Count    What Has SpaceEver done For Us?    From Caithness To Outer Space

School Events -  

Lyth Arts Centre Presents Space Ape
Andy Cannon, Scotland’s leading storyteller for young audiences, tells the tale, sharing his passion for space travel, using everyday objects and animation.  Age 6 Up - Tickets £6  17 March 6.00pm at Lyth Arts Centre.

Science Festival Web Site                  Science Festival On Facebook
HOLS Towed By Wick and Thurso Lifeboats To Scrabster
HOLS towed by Wick and Thurso lifeboats to Scrabster
HOLS suffered engine failure at Helmsdale yesterday morning. She was first towed by the Wick Lifeboat, then by the Thurso Lifeboat into Scrabster Harbour for repairs/inspection.

Building Your New Home - Advice From Thermohaus
Thermohaus House Building Advice
The last in our series of articles from a highly experienced local firm.
Previous articles in the series in include -
Planning Advice and Building Warrant
House Design Advice
Finding And Buying Land For Your Self Build Home
Building Your Own Home Is Easier Than You May Think
Can You Afford To Build Your Own Home
How to Finance Your Self-build New home
The articles are all cross linked to make them easy to find.
To get started contact Thermohaus
Eystnes From Faroe Islands Held Up In Thurso Bay
Eyestnes In Thurso Bay
After her arrival at Scrabster from Tórshavn, Faroe Islands was delayed due to bad weather, Smyril Line Ro-Ro Container Carrier Eystnes had to hold in Thurso Bay early Sunday afternoon. She was not able to unload or load cargo until Northlink Ferries Hamnavoe had departed the Ferry Berth. Eystnes or sister ship Hvítanes normally arrives on a Saturday evening.

MSP determined to help in the fight to save Highlands and Islands charity
Third sector groups await decision on funding
MSP Rhoda Grant with Sight Action
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has tabled a motion for debate in the Scottish Parliament in a bid to save a local charity, Sight Action, as NHS Highland make funding cuts and re-design services for the blind and visually impaired. It was indicated to Mrs Grant at the end of last year that Sight Action's valuable services to almost 3,000 blind or visually impaired adults and children will no longer continue past the 31st March 2020 as NHS Highland are unable to uplift funding - even though Sight Action have had no uplift in funding for the past twelve years compounded, she believes, by a 10% cut in funding in 2010-11.  The Caithness group is also affected.
Spectacular Waves At Thurso
Waves At Thurso

Thurso Grows Spring Open Day
Thurso Garden Spring Open Day
Thurso Grows, a climate change project run by Thurso Community Development Trust and funded by Climate Challenge Scotland, is holding an open day at Thurso Grows Community Garden. The project has turned the garden in Falconer Waters Court into a vibrant growing space and are planning further development and expansion throughout this year. Thurso Grows ran many successful events last year including a harvest festival, Samhain celebrations and their big lunch event. In the last eight months, they have reduced Thurso's carbon emissions by 272 tonnes through increasing growing places and reducing food waste going to landfill.

Caithness public to decide funding for local projects
Your Cash Your Caithness - 29th February 2020. Following the call by The Highland Council for local groups in Caithness to apply for a share of £10,000 to fund projects in their local area, members of the public are now being invited to take part in the Your Cash Your Caithness event on Saturday 29th February to decide how the money will be distributed. At the participatory budgeting event, which will be held in the Main Hall of Thurso High School on Ormlie Road, representatives behind the 25 short-listed projects will have a chance to put their idea to the public vote. There is £10,000.00 on offer with applications received totalling £23,734.00.  See the list of short-listed projects inside.
Community Index
Cuts Bite Into Services for Blind and Sight Impaired
Service To Blind People In Doubt As Sight Action Cannot Get Sufficient Funds From NHS Highland

The Sensory Centres in Thurso and Wick have 12 Children and 252 Audlts registered with them and stand to see a big reduction if NHS Highland take the service back in house from the current provider Sight Action.  The centres in Thurso and Wick used to be Caithness Deaf Care until they amalgamtated to expsnd services to visual and hearing impairments.  
THOUSANDS of vulnerable people will be failed if NHS Highland refuses to properly fund a rehabilitation service for adults and children with blindness and impaired vision in the Highlands and the Western Isles. The grim prediction came last night from a charity called Sight Action whose team of rehabilitation officers have been delivering support to more than 2700 blind and low sighted people since 2008 under contract to the health board. Sight Action Executive Manager Gillian Mitchell said it will not be bidding to renew its contract next month because the health board is unwilling to adequately meet service funding needs.

NHS Highland are coming to Wick on Valentines Day 14th February for crunch talks with third sector groups who provide a rangeof servicesin the county.

NHS Budget Deficit - Press and Journal

Meanwhile a major fight Between NHS Highland and Highland Council rages on behind closed doors

It gets worse -
An additional £1.5m cost pressure is looming from an increase in a service agreement with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and this has not yet been accounted for in NHS Highland figures - only a side note.
Amongst other probelms highlighted - Facilities have £1.1m pressure made up of the new national waste contract and energy costs.
40 New Jobs Expected In Five Years As Ashley Ann, Wick Plans Further Growth
Ahsley Ann plan 40 new jobs over 5 years
A Caithness company is planning to invest more than £2m in its Wick plant, in a move that could see up to 40 new jobs created in the town over the next five years. Family-run Ashley Ann Ltd (AAL) designs and manufactures kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. The firm has secured up to £400,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). This will help fund building works and alterations and the installation of additional specialist manufacturing equipment.

Jobs and How To Get Them 2020
Jobs Fair 2020
Wick High School
Saturday 8th February  - 10.00am - 2.00pm

Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club
Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club
No Fees, No Committees Just Banter
2nd Saturday of each month 11.00am - 1.00pm

New Section In The Forum - Jobs Wanted/Services Offered - Commercial and Community
Following a suggestion from forum users we have now set up a new section where anyone can advertise services wanted or for sale.  The section can be used for anything that needs doing for individuals or the community.   Some folk may have skills to offer for payment or to help the community - just tell everyone what it is.  Others may need a small job doing that requires certain skills or knowledge but only for a very short time. You maye be just doing some work part-time befoe you launch a business at later date - herie one way to test the market for your services.  As with all the other forum sections it is Free to use. If we get lots of postings we will look at how bes tto organise it into relevant sections.
Winter Surfing In Caithness
Surfing in Wintry CaithnessSurfingin Caithness goes on all year round
Surfing in January in Caithness is a common site in recent years. With great waves on offer and low numbers the surfing areas are increasingly being used.  The water temperature does not change that much summer to winter as long as you have a wet suit.

Annie Rose WK889 Gets Towed To Scrabster By Karen Jane WK36
Annie Rose WK889 Gets Towed To Scrabster By Karen Jane WK36
Early today in the morning 19 January 2020 Annie Rose WK889 suffered a burst pipe whilst out fishing, causing the vessel to be inoperable. Karen Jane WK36 came to her aid and safely towed her into Scrabster Harbour.

Robert MacLennan, Former MP for Caithness, Sutherland and East Ross has died aged 83

Caithness Field Club Bulletin - 2018
Field Club Activities during 2017 (by Tony Bradford)
Botanical Report 2017 (by Francis and Margaret Higgins)
Ranger Wildlife Notes 2017 (by Paul Castle)
Strathmore Flora (contributed by Keith Gerry)
Allan’s Reminiscences (by Allan Abernethy)
Place-names - Nottingham and Snottergill Burn (by George Watson)
St Donnan - Patron Saint (by Audrey Munro)
Thusater Dig (by Caithness Broch Project) Caithness Field Club Trips (by Anna Rogalski)
The final two articles from the 2018 Bulletin will be added shortly

The Caithness Field Club Bulletin Index - April 1973 onwards -  A few years still to be added from 2009 onwrds.
Planning Permission & Building Warrant - Advice From Thermohaus
Planning Permision and Building Standards Advice from Thermohaus
The next in our series of articles with advice for anyone wanting to build their own house from a highly experienced local firm - Thermohaus.  When building a new house there are two primary statutory (legal) consents you need to obtain before starting any work on site - planning permission and a building warrant.
See links for earlier articles  - House Design Advice From Thermohaus -  Finding And Buying Land For Your Self Build Home - Building Your Own Home Is Easier Than You May Think -  Can You Afford To Build Your Own Home -  How to Finance Your Self-build New home.

Caithness Maritime 2020 Calendar Photos
2020 Caithness Martime Calendar2020 Caithness Maritime Calendar Photos
John Hay produced a lovely 2020 Caithness Martime Calendar with 12 photos of a few of the boats working around the coast of Caithness or as visitors.  The calendar was a sell-out but thanks to John for allowing us to publish the photos.  He has a range of high quality martime photos for sale on his web site
Some of our earlier maritime photos can be found at Boats Index
The index is not comprehensive and many boat photos are scattered in our many other photo galleries on
MV Helliar Replacing MV Hamnavoe 13th - 26th January
MV Helliar on MV Hamnaveregular route on Pentand Firth 13th - 26 January 2020
The MV Hamnavoe is due to be in dry dock from 13th to 26th January 2020 (inclusive), and there will be additional north and southbound calls into Kirkwall by the MV Hrossey and MV Hjaltland. During this time the MV Helliar will provide a replacement service on the Pentland Firth route. NorthLink Ferries MV Hamnavoe which operates between Scrabster and Stromness will have "Changing Places" installed during the upcoming dry dock period.

Safe Loading In Rough Seas at Gills Harbour With Pentland Ferries
MV Alfred loading at Gills Harbour in rough weather
With expert guidance from the crew of Pentland Ferries "Alfred" this lorry safely loads onto the ferry at Gills Harbour, Caithness, today (9 January 2019), for her crossing to St Margarets Hope. Sea swells were evident, making the job even harder & causing the ferry to be delayed.

More Money Up For Grabs For Local Groups With Your Cash Your Caithness
The Highland Council took receipt of £9,497 from the old Caithness Partnership earlier in 2019 on condition that these funds were set aside and used in a Your Cash Your Caithness funding event. The Highland Council have topped this amount up to £10,000 now to let the local community once again decide for themselves which projects are needed in their area. Whether you want to organise a project for young people, a healthy living project, a crime prevention idea, a lunch club for older residents, a community art project, the only limit is your imagination. To apply for up to £1,000.00, you must submit an application form before 5.00pm on Sunday 2 February 2020. If your idea fits, the community will get to vote for the best ideas at an event to be held on Saturday 29 February 2020 in Thurso.

Wick High Pupils Receive SQA Cyber Security Award
Wick High pupils win SQA Award for digital security
In the second year of running in the SQA's Award in Cyber Security Fundamentals Wick High is delighted that 37 S3 pupils received the award. After spending two months learning about cyber security threats and how to defend against them, pupils sat an exam that covered both the theory and practical elements of the course. During the two months pupils set up their own Pi-Top devices (miniature computers running a Linux operating system) and secured them against multiple security threats.

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Wick Street Design Festival to help redesign Wick's High Street  - Your Chance To Give Your Ideas
Wick Street Design Festival
Wickers are being asked to help develop designs ideas to help improve the High Street. Launched in October 2019, the Wick Street Design Project is a partnership project between Sustrans Scotland, The Highland Council, Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council and Local Councillors working on an ambitious collaborative project to re-design Wick High Street.
The project works with locals to develop a design that represents the community's vision for Wick High Street. It aims to create: · Warm, welcoming and more attractive public spaces; · A comfortable and safe environment to walk, wheel and cycle; · Better travel experiences through Wick town centre - particularly when accessing local facilities; · A sense of identity for the town centre in Wick, drawing on local culture and heritage;
Sunday School and Youth Group at Wick Baptisit Church
Sunday School and Youth Group at Wick Baptist Church

Every Sunday at 1100am

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Wick Players Christmas Exhibition On Until End Of January
Wick Players Christmas Exhibition at the Nucleus

Wick Street Design Festival
Wick Street Design Festival 2020 - 15th and 16th January 2020
Wednesday 15th January 2020 - Wick Heritge Museum
Join us for Day 1 of the Wick Street Design Festival to celebrate Wick's heritage. Free refreshments will be provided. Drop in to our Living Library from 2-5pm to explore the High Street's history through images and stories. You'll also have the opportunity to share your own stories if you'd like to.
Thursday 16th January 2020 - Assembly Rooms
Come along to Assembly Rooms to view the information gathered so far and work with the team to narrow down our design goals and begin to develop your design ideas.
Cancer Support Group For Men - Meeting Dates For 2020
Mens Cancer Support Group Meetings for 2020

Happy New Year To Everyone
2020  - who would have thought 2019 would ever end.  
Lots of things will happen in the year now underway and we should be encouraged by the work of so many people from hundreds of volunteers who run so many things in Caithness to workers, officials and politicians of all persuasions.  Wishing you all well and success in your endeavours.