News Archive - April May June 2020
Many  previous items are archived in the Community, Arts, Sports and Business sections

Thurso Community Takeover Sir John Square
Thurso Grows Takeover Sir John Square
This year, due to lock down, Highland Council have been unable to plant the usual, beautiful floral displays in Sir Johns Square, Thurso. With permission from the council Thurso Grows, a project run by Thurso Community Development Trust, has taken over Sir John Square this year to plant a vegetable garden and create a collective community art work installation. For one year only, rather than having this prominent area become overgrown and weedy, Thurso Grows, with the help of an amazing team of volunteers, are planting vegetables and salads and creating a "painted stone rainbow" that will bring colour and focus to the square. The Thurso Grows team are asking for local people to get involved with painted stones to supply a burst of colour in the Square. All food grown will be given to local community, the project has been well supported by local people, including a donation of vegetable plants from Westlea Plants in Lybster.
Two Derelict Buidlings In High Street, Wick Soon To Be Demolished
Sloans BuildingFormer Cinema
Two prominent derelict buildings in Wick High Street are to be demolished following decades lying empty. Numbers 30 and 126 (known locally as Dominoes (the former cinema) and Sloans are to benefit from demolition and site clearance, before ownership is returned to the local community.
Speaking about the project, Gail Matheson from Highland Housing Alliance, said: "This is great news for Wick. Nobody likes to see derelict buildings on the High Street, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Highland Council and the Wick Development Trust to safely remove these eyesores from the High Street. The cleared sites will present some great redevelopment opportunities."

Dounreay Cash Reaches Groups In Need During Coronavirus Lockdown
Dounreay cash grants
More than 30 community groups received help from a fund supported by Dounreay and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority during the COVID-19 crisis. In March 2020, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd anticipated an upsurge in demand from community organisations for small-scale financial assistance. It made available 30,000 to the North Highland Initiative for its fund to support community organisations impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Latest Martitime Photos
Highanders alongside Edda Sun
A couple of recent photos from John Hay.  

John has produce a great book of a few boats from Caithness

See a preview of the book in this animation

Wick Galas Gone  Past - The Big Gallery 
Wick Gala Galleries
With Rainy Lockdown Days at the moment and no galas this year and with time on our hands we have put together thousands of the Wick Gala photos from 2002 to 2019 in one huge gallery for everyone to look back.  You can scroll through all the years or go to the drop down menu at the bottom to jump to any one year.  
We are happy to add earlier years if anyone cares to send photos to
We will in coming weeks do the same for other galas and shows.

Log Sales Recommence At Dunnet Forest From Saturday 6 June
Exciting news - Log sales are back from this weekend 6th June 2020. We have sought and received the approval of the Emergency Planning Committee of the Highland Council before going ahead. And just to reassure everyone - they have also approved our measures to ensure the safety of all, volunteers, staff and customers. There will be a queuing system in place so we can load one car or trailer at a time. Customers will be asked to stay in their vehicles at all times while they are loaded. And payment will be collected in a box, or if preferred customers can pay via Paypal using our email address.
Can You Add To The Wick Players Archive
Help the Wick Players build up their archive with any information or photos you may hold.
You can also become a member to boost their income a little and get advance tickets for shows.
Wick Angling Association - Fishing In Caithness - Angling Is Back Soon
Wick Angling Association new web site launched
Wick Angling Association have launched a new web site in preparation for Angling once again being allowed.  This may not be not long now following today's announcment by Scottish Government for a phased approach to lessening lockdown.  Angling is to be one of the early sports allowed to recommence shortly afer 28th May  - this may still be subject to further review - watch for more announcements.

NFU Mutual Thurso supports Caithness Mental Health Support Group to help local relief efforts
Caithness Mental Health Support Group - Wick House
NFU Mutual Thurso is proud to have nominated local charity Caithness Mental Health Support Group for a donation of over 3,000. NFU Mutual Agents and their staff at the local Thurso agency are delighted to have nominated local charity Caithness Mental Health Support Group to receive a donation from the national 1m ‘Agency Giving Fund' launched by NFU Mutual's Head Office. The charity has two drop-in centres, The Haven in Wick and Stepping Stones in Thurso, and provides support for local people who may be experiencing isolation, unemployment and other social difficulties related to mental health problems. Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and, with a survey of NFU Mutual customers showing that nearly three quarters of people are feeling more isolated since the UK went into lockdown, it's a crucial time for this support to be available.
Society Of Caithness Artists Offer An On-line Exhibition
In the absence of their usual Summer Exhibition in Thurso, The Society of Caithness Artists offer all artists with a Caithness connection an opportunity to exhibit with the Society as part of their on-line exhibition. The Society recognises the negative impact the present situation of galleries and exhibition closures has on individual artists so offer this alternative. Says SCA Chair Ian Pearson "it is important that artists continue to be creative for their well-being as well as everyone else and I also know how important it is to have an outlet for ones work. Normally the Society would be busy organising screens and plinths and planning for artists to bring their work to hang and display but these aren't normal times so we have to react accordingly"
The exhibition is scheduled to commence on July 1st and close on July 31st. The deadline for artists wishing to take part is June 15th and all images must be submitted by this date.
High Life Highland Libraries online resources numbers soar during covid lockdown
Highland Highlife
High Life Highland Libraries have been given top marks by members and non-members alike as they turn to the Charity's online resources to help provide extra support for health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 outbreak. Feedback on the Library services in Highland, including online ‘Bookbug' sessions, e-books, audio-books and the online newspaper service has shown that people have quickly adapted to take advantage of the free services on offer. Bookbug, a national programme for sharing stories, songs and rhymes for young people, is delivered through our local libraries and has seen the number of views of sessions rise to 6500 in April from just under 2000 in March. Pressreader, the online newspaper service, has more than doubled the number of views in April 2020 in comparison with the same month last year, an increase of 30,000 views.  Read newspapers and magazines free as Highlife covers the online subscription for library card holders. Thurso Town Improvements Group To Be Wound Up As Not Enough Volunteers For the Committee
The group decided to wind up in February due to lackof members but have maintianed the Facebook page and the legal status until August to see if more people come forward.  No events were planned for 2020.  The clock is ticking and there may still be time to save it if enough folk come forward - contact on Facebook.
Caithness Community Groups Among 258 Scottish Awards By Scottish Government
Local groups in Scotland get a 10 million boost. Families on lower incomes and older people are to get more support with extra funding for lifeline services to cope with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The funding from the Scottish Government's Supporting Communities Fund will go directly to more than 250 community groups. The community groups operate as ‘anchors', bringing together charities, volunteers, social enterprises and the public sector to co-ordinate the local response and channel support where it is needed. This includes making hot meals, organising grocery and prescription deliveries and providing wellbeing support. Up to 10 million is being made available as an initial sum available to support community anchor organisations, and a further allocation of 10 million has been approved to support the second phase of the fund.
Caithness Groups Awards
Caithness Community Connections 3,453
Caithness Voluntary Group 16,121
Caithness Voluntary Group 11,800
John O' Groats Development Trust 10,000
Pulteneytown People's Project 31,075
Thurso Community Development Trust 53,000
Most Events Cancelled

Fro information the Halkik Highland Games, Wick Gala and Caithness County Show are cancelled for 2020 and will be back in 2021. Many other regular annual events are also cancelled.  We have cleared May from the Whatson section but you can add any online events such as the Market onlne on 9th May where buyers and sellers can see each other via Snapchat. It is now unlikely that there will be any big events in 2020 in Caithness.

Learning During Lockdown -
How Highland Council's schools are benefiting from advanced online teaching tools
School pupils across The Highland Council have been benefiting from an innovative approach to Teaching and learning which has made the transition to home learning smoother for all. Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland recognised to develop a Schools Digital Learning Hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning. The coronavirus outbreak has led to school closures since March, but that has not stopped Highland pupils from learning remotely during lockdown.   Check out the fitness and other videos.
A New Book - Mysteries and Misadventures: Tales from the Highlands
A new Book of mysteries with a few Caithness mentionsCaithness features heavily in a new book from author Aaron Mullins. A former Wick high School pupil, the book also contains a Story Behind the Stories section where he reveals the aspects of his life growing up in Caithness which inspired each story. From Dunnett Forest and Whaligoe Steps, and from Castletown to Beinn a' Chrulaiste, his love for the Highlands and its people shines through, both in his stories and reflecting on his personal journey in the Author's Notes. It also considers the intricacies of capturing the correct-sounding spelling of specific Scots dialects from their time and place in history.
Army Sets Up Mobile Corona Virus Testing Units In Thurso
The UK Government has mobilised the army to set up Corona Virus Test Centres In Scotland. Mobile testing units travel around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing. They respond to need, travelling to test essential workers if they or someone in their household is symptomatic. The UK Government testing programme in Scotland is additional capacity to supplement NHS testing which prioritises Health and Social Care staff. New units are being brought into operation each day. There are now two in Highland, currently based in Broadford and Thurso. There is a drive though facility based in Inverness.
Caithness Help Groups Contacts
Communitu Help Groups in Caithness
From Caithness Voluntary Group who have coordinated the process to get the map. Over the past 5 - 6 weeks I have been working with an absolutely tremendous group of individuals who are throughout the county working tirelessly to ensure everyone is looked after during this crises. The attached map details all ten lead groups that have stepped up, well done everyone. See map for details of which groups is offering assistance in which area of Caithness.

Thousands Of Litres Of Free Hand Sanitiser From A Caithness Business
Hand Sanitiser from Ice and Fire Distillery
The Ice and Fire Distillery at Latheronwheel is ready to make a huge amount hand sanitizer during the coronavirus crisis. The new product will be distributed free to those who need it, including public services such as doctors' surgeries, local shops and care workers. Awards of 9098.09 each have been made by both the SSE Beatrice Caithness Fund and the E.ON Camster Community Fund. This has given the gin distillery the funds to purchase 4000 litres of denatured alcohol and other necessary ingredients to begin a large-scale production.

Jacqueline Black form the distillery said "We have finally managed to get all our licence and public health certificate to allow us to give off 4000 litres of hand sanitiser for free."

High Life Highland online resources for health and wellbeing
Book bug sessions
To help provide extra support for people living in the Highlands during the current period, High Life Highland has extended the range of services and classes available to communities online, using technology and innovation to create new and exciting activities. Over the past month, the Charity's teams have put together an engaging range of online content to support the health and wellbeing of people living in the Highlands, including: online classes and a range of free newspapers, books and interactive archive sessions suitable for all. Interest is high, with over 26,000 engaging through its social media pages in the last week alone.

See inside for links to Bookbug, Fitness programmes and more.
Covid 19 -  Activity/Craft Packs For Children and Young People
Activity Packs
1st Thurso Boys Brigade will soon be making up packs of craft and activity materials.  To obtain one send the name and adress and ages of the chidren or young people.

CHAT and Friends Donate 30 Tablets For Staff and Patients in Caithness Hospitals To Keep In Contact
CHAT and Leagueof Friends donate 30 tablets to Caithness Hospitals
Caithness Health Action Team along with the League of Friends for Caithness General hospital wanted to help patients and staff in our local Caithness hospitals. We contacted NHSH and agreed that providing high quality Samsung tablets ,with protective wipe able covers would be an excellent way to help ,especially as at the moment there is currently no visiting allowed due to the pandemic. These tablets could be used by staff , talking through and actually showing families what is happening with their loved ones, ministers can pray with the patients to give comfort and support ,patients themselves can use the tablets to communicate with their family or friends. CHAT donated 10 Samsung tablets to the Caithness General Infection control ward and 3 to the Caithness General Hospital wards. League of Friends for Caithness General Hospital donated 5 Samsung tablets to the Caithness General Infection control ward and 5 to the Caithness General Hospital main wards. Additionally,CHAT also supported patients and staff in both Town and County hospital by providing 4 Samsung tablets and 3 to Dunbar hospital.In total between us we have donated 30 tablets to our local hospitals.
Council Issues More Than 7,500 School Meals Vouchers To Highland Families
Free meals for Highland Kids
Highland Council is continuing to provide free school meals through e-vouchers to families across the region while schools are closed. Over, 7,500 school meals payments of 15 per child per week have been issued to date. This is to help support many families who are experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus emergency. The Council estimates that to June, 60,000 payments will be issued to eligible families. This innovative service - which was initially delivered digitally using e-vouchers - will also be available through Co-op card, Post Office PayOut; and Scotmid paper vouchers from next week beginning Monday 27 April.
To see if your children qualify check the link  to the council web site information inside.  Not claimed before then now may be the time to take a look.  Also a freephone number for assistance.

Royal Bank Launches Card For Carers
Royal Bank of Scotland is introducing a new ‘companion card' - a supplement card to an existing current account that enables vulnerable customers and those in extended isolation to give trusted volunteers a way to pay for their essential goods. The card can be topped up by up to 100 and given to a trusted person or carer to enable them to make purchases on behalf of the individual. To enhance security, the carers card will be associated with the customer's existing bank account but kept separate on the bank's systems. The card does not share a PIN or long card number with the customer's existing debit cards and ATM withdrawals are restricted to 50, as well as being subject to Royal Bank's fraud monitoring systems.
Highland Council Warns Of Business Grants Scam - Don't Get Caught Out On This
The COVID-19 crisis has seen an unprecedented rise in scams across the whole of the UK and Highland Council Trading Standards is issuing a warning to local businesses about a new scam that has come to light, regarding business grants. This scam involves an unsolicited email informing the business that its business grant application has been processed and a payment to be made to you soon. The email then refers the business to a remittance advice for payment details, states the grant will be paid by the end of the day and that if the business has any queries it should make contact using the details displayed on the remittance advice.
How Dounreay is responding to coronavirus
Cabine delivered by dounreayfor coronavirus examinations at medical centre
Dounreay is working with the community to provide assistance during the coronavirus outbreak. Protecting our site - We have reduced operations at the site to a level where we require a minimum number of people to leave their homes each day to keep Dounreay in a safe and secure state. Our over-riding priority at this time is to maintain the site in a safe and secure state and so avoid placing any additional burden on our front-line services - the NHS, the Highland Council and other resilience partnership organisations. Protecting our community- We recognise the primacy of NHS Highland, the Highland Council and other resilience partnership organisations who are leading the fight against coronavirus and protecting our community from harm. DSRL is committed to supporting these organisations in whatever way we can, without comprising the safety and security of the site.
Calling All Budding Young Artists And Architects
Little Architects Art Competition
Savills has launched a competition for all the budding young artists and architects who find themselves stuck indoors this month. The Savills Little Architects competition invites children to grab their tools, pencils, paint brushes and crayons and let their imaginations run wild to create their dream home. There is an entry for different age groups and each has two categories: entrants can either draw or paint their creation or make a model out of any materials they have at home. The age categories are split into five years and under (little engineers), 6-10 years (junior builders) and 11-14 years (senior architects).
Wellbeing Fund Open For Bids
Charities invited to apply for cash help. Third sector organisations across Scotland are being encouraged to apply for emergency funding to help cope with the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19). More than 2000 charities, community and voluntary groups, and social enterprises are being offered immediate financial support from the 50 million Wellbeing Fund, which has been established to assist third sector organisations working with people impacted by the pandemic.

Support For Those At High Covid-19 Risk
National helpline established for those who do not have family or community support. A new national helpline is being set up to provide essential assistance to those who don't have a network of support but who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. The service - which opens tomorrow (Tuesday 14 April 2020) - will offer help to those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online and who are over 70, disabled, require the support of mental health services, are pregnant or receive a flu jab for health reasons. This service is in addition to localised support already available for people who have received letters advising them to shield themselves. However, any of those in the shielding category who are not yet receiving assistance, who do not have family and cannot get online can access support via this new helpline.
Second CVG Covid-19 Funding Update April 2020
Caithnss Voluntary Group is working hard to collate the emergency funding becoming available to charitable groups in the county.  Potential applicants should note that some funds have very short closing dates for applications and it may be first come first served.  The First list came out two days ago on 7th April.  A wide range of funders are now stepping up with new funds to fill many parts of the Covid emergency so it is well worth checking if your group qualifies.

Calls continue to come in to Council's Covid-19 helpline
Helpline Calls Continue
A high number of calls to The Highland Council's dedicated COVID-19 helpline continue to be dealt with on a daily basis. The 0300 303 1362 has been set to give assistance on urgent COVID issues and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support. There is a separate helpline for anyone who receives a Shielding letter from the NHS requiring them to self- isolate for 12 weeks. This is 01349 886669 and if they require urgent help with food or medicine, they should telephone the number provided in their letter On average we are now dealing with 200 calls a day to our COVAID-19 helpline. In total council staff and volunteers from Eden Court have dealt with just short of 3000 calls since the launch on 25th March.

Who Made The Contrails Above Dunnet - RAF or Russians Who Knows
Who Made The Contrailsl at Dunnet 9 april 2020
 An unusual sight this morning lookiing out from Dunnet. Photo looking north east, shows the contrails of a jet aircraft flying at least 30,000 feet performing what appears to be doughnuts. The aircraft did not show on any flight tracking apps.

To get a slightly larger photo inside right click on the phot and open in a new window.

Highland Council Issues Covid-19 Advice To Tenants
The Highland Council is sending a bulletin to all council tenants providing them with advice about issues related to Coronavirus. The bulletin contains information of a wide range of topics including energy advice, details on changes to homelessness services, how to get housing support, support for anyone in rent arrears, awareness tips from Trading Standards on staying safe from scams, a reminder on how to continue receiving free school meals, specific information for any tenants shielding, what practical support is available in communities and sharing national helplines for people to stay connected. The briefing also gives a long list of key contact details for organisations and service providers.

Covid-19 Funding Update For Community Groups
Several funders have opened schemes for north community groups to help in the Covid-19 Crisis.  Yvonne at Caithness Voluntary Group has put together a handy guide to the funds available.  The different funders have a range of criteria but all are aiming to help groups that are extending aid to our commuities or to help if groups have problems themselves. There are closing dates for some so check them out as soon as possible.   Small business grant scheme extended to self-catering businesses
The Highland Council today launched its revised guidance on behalf of the Scottish Government, with grants of 10,000 and 25,000 becoming available for eligible self-catering businesses. Recognising the concerns raised by the tourism industry, on behalf of self-caterers, the Scottish Government small business grant scheme has been expanded to include self-catering properties and caravans where receipts represent a primary source (for example, one third or more) of earnings for the ratepayer and the property has been let out for 140 days or more in the financial year 2019-20.

Spiggy Topes Record Is Released ... After 50 Years
Spiggy Topes - Record release after 50 yars
A Scottish band's recording is released in Britain for first time; half a century after it was made in a London Tin Pan Alley studio. A recording made by a young North of Scotland professional 'beat' band has been released in Britain for the very first time ... fifty years after 'Love in the Wind' was taped at a studio in Britain's Tin Pan Alley. It is one of two songs recorded in a single day by the band, formed in 1969 in Scotland's only North Coast town, during a single-day session in the West End of London's famous Denmark Street studios ... all for the cost of a bottle of malt whisky! Spiggy Topes was founded in Thurso, Caithness, at a time when the local economy was booming thanks to the 'white heat of technology' being utilised to the full in the spherical 'dome' at the futuristic fast-reactor nuclear research complex at nearby Dounreay........  A 5 CD boxed set is just out from Amazon.

HMRC Latest Update On Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme For Employers and Employees
The scheme is being revised regularly so anyone is advised to check it every few days as it is still being developed.

Emergency Help For Those Worse Affected By Coronavirus - 8 Million Boost
Key support services get 8 million boost. People most at risk from the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak are to receive further support following emergency investment in crucial services. Charities Scottish Women's Aid, Social Bite and other key partners will share up to 8 million to provide an emergency response and ensure services can react to coronavirus (COVID-19). Disadvantaged groups facing hardships such as homelessness, food insecurity or social isolation and loneliness are among those to benefit from services such as: .....................

Supporting people affected by alcohol and drug use
Extra support for people affected by alcohol and drug use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been announced by the Minister for Public Health Joe FitzPatrick. Funding of 166,000 from the Scottish Government will support: • a programme to increase access to naloxone in new settings, including investment in kits to add to the existing outlets for naloxone supply.

Crimestoppers Scotland: Doorstep Crime During The Coronavirus Crisis - Speak Up, Stay Safe
Crimestoppers covid advice
 Crimestoppers Scotland
has today, 6th April 2020, launched a vital Doorstep Crime campaign aimed at empowering people to stay safe in their homes. Right now, everyone has a role to play in keeping themselves and others safe, that's why the charity are appealing to people to share the message on keeping safe at home, especially with those who are most at risk Doorstep criminals are cunning, creative, and often very convincing at targeting people, that's why our charity is encouraging people to: THINK, SECURE, QUESTION, CONSIDER AND CONTROL.

Coronavirus Food Fund In Scotland - Support To Put Meals On Tables
Families unable to access food as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will get support from local authorities with 30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food Fund. The funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

Coronavirus support from returning staff and students
Almost 10,000 people, including more than 4,700 health care staff,
have so far come forward to offer the NHS in Scotland their skills and expertise during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The figure includes medical and nursing students, retired NHS staff, those on a career break from the NHS and healthcare workers from outside the NHS. In addition there are a number of doctors and other health professionals who may come forward as a result of the work of the professional regulatory bodies. Depending on their specialism, there are different plans in place for students to carry out paid employment in the NHS while also being able to complete their qualifications. New recruits joining the service on fixed-term contracts will be entitled to receive maximum sick pay entitlement, the same as staff with five years’ service. PVG and Disclosure checks are also being fast-tracked to allow new recruits to take up posts as soon as possible.
Coronavirus: If we are in a war against COVID-19 then we need to know where the enemy is
Corona War?
The fight against COVID-19 has launched a thousand military metaphors in the British press. The "greatest challenge since the Second World War", "the frontline", the virus is an "invisible enemy", and so forth. Us citizens feel besieged and under threat as we retreat to our foxholes. If this is a war, how is Britain doing? The frontline troops are running out of protective gear (PPE), ammunition (beds) and heavy equipment (ventilators). Supply lines are stretched thin. Meanwhile, the country's leadership - the prime minister, secretary of state for health and the chief medical officer - are self-isolated in their bunkers where they cannot be functioning at 100%.

Highland Council To Provide School Meals Throughout Easter Break
Highland Council will continue to provide school meals through e-vouchers to families throughout the school Easter break. This is to recognise the particular difficulties many families will be experiencing due to the Coronavirus emergency. This innovative and easy-to-use service is being delivered digitally through the use of e-vouchers which will ensure over 4,000 school children will continue to receive support for school meals while schools are closed. Families who are already receiving free school meal provision do not need to apply as the Council will automatically provide barcoded e-vouchers to eligible families.  For any families who are still to apply and to check if you qualify see the link inside.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding support and contacts
Details of shielding support in local areas to arrange for food and medicine deliveries, and other support services. Highest risk classification Some groups of people are considered to be at extremely high risk of severe illness with Coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are in this group you will receive a letter from NHS Scotland or be contacted by your doctor. If you are in this group you should follow shielding measures. Shielding is only recommended for those at highest risk of severe illness if they contract Coronavirus (COVID-19). This group of people will be advised to take very stringent measures to protect themselves from contracting the virus and will be contacted by letter.  Community Index

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tailored advice for those who live with specific medical conditions
These conditions include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBD; chronic kidney and liver disease; dermatological, neurological, respiratory and rheumatic conditions; and rare diseases.   Folow the links to specifc advice on the conditions.

Supporting The Seafood Sector
10 million assistance for processing businesses during COVID-19 pressures. Financial support for seafood processors to help them through economic pressures related to COVID-19 will be available through a new 10 million scheme. With many seafood businesses fighting for survival, and in turn threatening livelihoods in coastal communities, the Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund provides a combination of grants and loans to businesses suffering severe hardship following the shutdown of international markets and the food service industry across the UK. Business Index

Deliveries For High Risk Group
Local services to supply groceries and medicines to those most at risk. People in Scotland at highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) will begin to receive home deliveries of essential groceries on Friday. Letters from the Chief Medical Officer have been issuing this week to those who are at greatest risk of COVID-19, to provide bespoke guidance on shielding from infection and information about the support available, which includes access to home deliveries through a text message service.

Easter Childcare For Key Workers - Hubs To Remain Open Over The Spring Break
Learning and childcare hubs for the children of key workers will remain open across Scotland over the Easter holidays. The move will help support key workers in the NHS and other key sectors on the frontline of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). All of Scotland's local authorities will keep learning and childcare hubs open in their areas to support children and young people.   Business Index

Farmers Urged To Wade Into Bird Conservation
Farmers and land managers have an important role to play in reversing the declining numbers of wading birds in Scotland, according to a new report. The Working for Waders annual report has highlighted a steep decline in the number of wading birds, including lapwings, oystercatchers and curlews, over the past 25 years. It warns that without urgent action, these iconic birds could soon be lost.

Biodiversity Caithness Photos Galleries
One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   Seven   Eight   Nine

Neonatal Expenses Fund Terms and Conditions
The Neonatal Expenses Fund (NEF) is designed to help parents of premature and sick newborn babies to offset the cost of traveling to and from hospital during the early days of their baby's life and the subsistence required to allow them to spend time with their baby/ies in order to bond as a family during these early days.
New support for creative sector during COVID-19 outbreak
Help for Creative and Arts sectors during covid crisis
Creative Scotland has launched three funding programmes designed to provide further support to sustain the country's creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak: A Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund will help sustain creative practice by freelance creative professionals who have lost earnings due to the cancelation of work as a result of COVID-19. A parallel Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund will provide similar one-off bursary support to self-employed screen sector workers. The Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development will provide support for individuals and organisations to sustain their creative development in the coming months.    Arts Index

Vitamin D: advice for all age groups - Scottish Government Revised Advice On Coronavirus
Revised guidance from Scottish Government to reflect the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and the advice to stay at home. Vitamin D: advice for all age groups We are currently advising people to stay at home. For most people, this will mean being indoors for much of the day and not getting enough vitamin D from sunshine exposure.
Supporting Local Highland Businesses During Covid-19
The Highland Council is working hard to release business grants to eligible local businesses as quickly as possible. The Council has received over 2,000 applications since the scheme was introduced last week and has set up systems to process these applications quickly while ensuring the necessary information is received.

Busy First Week For Highland Council's Covid-19 Helpline
Since The Highland Council's dedicated helpline went live last Wednesday afternoon staff have dealt with over 1,600 calls. The helpline has been set to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support. In the first 7 days the majority of the callers have been seeking support for businesses, along with providing offers to volunteer. Already we have over 240 groups offering assistance. The single line helpline - 0300 303 1362 - is open between 8am and 6pm and is staffed by volunteers from Eden Court and the Council. As well as directly assisting callers, staff, who are all home based, are also signposting people to other organisations that can provide help and assistance too. All calls are free.     Business Index

Help available for Council Tax payers in Highland
Council tax payers in Highland who have lost their jobs or are experiencing a drop in their income are being encouraged to apply as quickly as possible for a reduction in their council tax. This help, known as the ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme', is available for lower income households, including home owners. The person named on the council tax bill can apply online using the Highland Council's Apply Once form. Applicants supply their details only once and the Council will automatically award a range of Council-administered benefits that the applicant is entitled to receive. Council tax payers who live alone are also prompted to apply for a 25% single person discount using the Apply Once form which is available on the Council's website at:..............more
Business Index

Billing Pause For Business Rate Payers In Highland
Around 19,000 business rate payers in Highland will not receive their annual rates bill this April.
The Highland Council recognises the exceptional economic challenges for local business and has therefore decided to pause business rates bills in respect of financial year 2020/21. The decision to pause will be kept under regular review and is intended to help mitigate the impacts of coronavirus on local businesses and the local economy. Supporting businesses in this way means that the business community does not have to worry about paying their rates bills for the time being.
Business Index

Shielding For The Extremely Vulnerable In Highland
What is 'shielding'? If you fall within one of the groups recommended to shield, you will have received a letter or text from the NHS. Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising contact between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). If you think you have a condition which makes you extremely vulnerable you are strongly advised to shield yourself, to reduce the chance of getting coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow the face-to-face distancing measures below......................