Our AGM was held on Wednesday 13th September.
We had over 40 delegates attending at the newly refurbished Dunoon Burgh Hall. We were delighted to welcome representatives from across Argyll and the Isles including some groups and ACT members joining us for the first time which was great to see. It was also the first time that our full complement of new staff got together so the ACT team from Mid-Argyll, Islay and Cowal were able to meet the rest of the team, Board and Advisors in person.
We heard presentations on all our projects; Branching Out, CANN, ACT Hubs, and we were delighted to be able to give some details of funding success on two new activities – ACT Argyll in Helensburgh and Getting to the Roots of Rhododendron Ponticum in Glen Creran.
Our proposed constitution changes - increasing the number of community representatives on our Board from 4 to 8 were approved, and our Board members recruited during the past year (Bruce Marshall and Andree Hawke) were confirmed in their positions with strong support. Our Chair Grace Macleod was required to stand down from the Board as the longest serving community member, but was immediately voted back on. Andrew Wilson our Board representative of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative has stepped down but we hope to find an AITC replacement soon.
Ann has taken up the role of ACT Finance Officer 2 days per week. Ann is a qualified accountant and experienced business development advisor. We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome her onto our team!
Pensions - our staging date for signing up to a pension scheme is 1st October. All staff have been sent the introductory documents and we are enrolled with the NEST scheme.
Taynish@40 – we took part in the National Nature Reserve celebrations on 22nd and 23rd September. We set geocaches in a joint activity with artist Jane Smith. Branching Out were also there and prepared a campfire lunch.
Trustee and Advisor Training – will follow our Board meeting on 19th December. David Rennie and Argyll TSI will take the session. It will be an informal 1-2 hour programme covering duties, responsibilities, and opportunities with a generous time allowed for questions and discussion.
ACT Policy Documents – as we continue to become more involved with European funding legislation, we have refined our office management and now have some new processes in place, including a formalised Travel and Expenses Policy, Depreciation Policy and Communications Strategy which Anna has prepared which covers our communication objectives, style and key message.
Finance – our Finance Sub Group met on September 19th and look forward to “Finance Brainstorm” on 4th October with Just Enterprise. We now have reasonable project income from a range of funders, but cash flow and core funding remain challenges.
Facebook - Our page likes are continuing to grow. We now have 706 page likes and have an average reach of 1489 people a week.
Twitter – We have 342 followers. Our top followers are Cowalfest, SAMS and Kilted Walker
Instagram - 91 followers.
Benefits of Outdoor Activity Film
Julie and Sara have been progressing ideas with a film maker and plan to start filming on 27th October at the Kilfinan Branching Out Leaders event. NHS is supporting this project through the Health Improvement section within Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership fund.
Branching Out Argyll
Seven programmes are now complete with 3 currently underway, and to date 53 participants have graduated and earned their John Muir Awards. We have five fully kitted-out teams across Argyll & Bute now delivering the programmes with increasing confidence and efficiency.
We are looking forward to holding our annual Leaders networking event on 27th October and catching up with each other and sharing all that we have learnt.
Now that we have created the demand, we are trialling Moving On programmes for graduates of the programmes with our third sector partners and more development work is ongoing.
CANN (Collaborative Action for Natura Network)
Our cash advance has been approved by SEUPB, now needs to be signed off by the project lead partner. We are due to be advanced e130000 in July of 2018 which will be repaid in full by September 2021. We need this to off set the cash flow problems caused by 9-12 month delay between our project spend and grant repayments.
Sarah and Deb on Islay have been busy getting to know the other project partners and contacting farmers, crofters, landowners and community stakeholders (e.g. RSPB, distilleries). Introducing both ACT and the CANN project to as wide a cross section of the community as possible is vital to its success.
In early September Sarah, Julie and Gordon attended a steering group meeting in Glasgow with representatives from other partner organisations. In addition to this Sarah and Gordon also attended a sharing good practice training event at RSPB Muirkirk. Both days were very productive and it was especially useful to meet with the Irish partners.
Butterfly Conservation Scotland’s Bog Squad will be visiting us early in 2018, bringing volunteers to work on one of our sites (Eilean na Muice Duibhe). They will also be carrying out some volunteer training in marsh fritillary survey techniques and habitat assessments. We will be inviting key partners from the island to participate in this.
The Act Hubs team is continuing to support community projects across the region. One of our projects is based in Argyll’s Secret Coast, Cowal. Here, the community aims to produce a promotional leaflet to illustrate maps and descriptions of local walks to encourage more people to explore the area. We co-hosted a public meeting and school workshop in Tighnabruaich to collate people’s opinions about which local paths should be promoted, how the routes should be marked, ideas for leaflet design and points of interest to include in path descriptions. The primary school pupils also designed logos and decorated rocks that could be included in an art trail. There was a great turn out at the meeting and we are grateful to everyone who came along to share their knowledge and ideas. Tighnabruaich District Development Trust have secured funding from Paths for All towards this project.
In other news, we had a meeting with Carron Tobin (AITC), to discuss potential partnership working and are hoping to collaborate on some projects soon. We are grateful to Oly for her hard work in the Act Hubs team and welcome Ann Scott as our new Act Hubs finance officer. We also thank Andrew Wilson for his valued contribution to the Act Hubs steering group.
We look forward to sharing details of two new projects about to launch very shortly. We’re just waiting for sign off from the project funders.
Can’t wait to spill the beans!!…