‘About Berwickshire’ project takes to the road

An initiative to connect more communities in Berwickshire with services and support has just been launched.

At the heart of the “About Berwickshire” project is a minibus that will visit every town and village in the region over the next two years.

The project was developed by Berwickshire Association for Voluntary Service (Bavs) and has been awarded a £56,827 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.

A minibus formerly used for group transport has been reallocated as a mobile community hub, which will host or take part in at least 50 events in local areas.

A series of roadshow events and taster sessions will be held in community venues, in partnership with other third sector organisations in Berwickshire and beyond.

The first was a Children’s Clothes Swap at Reston Village Hall on Saturday 12th June. Bavs has been supporting the organisers, Berwickshire Swap, with its re-love, re-use and re-cycle activities.

The mobile hub will be used as a venue for services in areas where there is no community space, or to complement events in village halls or other local facilities.

Bavs has appointed two part-time Development Officers – Beth Landon and Kelly Brown – to deliver the project, with the support of other Bavs staff and volunteers.

New Bavs Development Officers, Kelly Brown (left) and Beth Landon, and the repurposed minibus.

Juliana Amaral, Chief Officer of Bavs, explained: “We are delighted to have received this grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to help address some of the social isolation we have seen in our communities. We will also be able to build on the activism that has emerged during the pandemic”.

“This is a great development for Bavs as we celebrate our 50th year supporting organisations in Berwickshire.”

The mobile hub will also enable statutory and third sector services to reach more remote communities to provide information and support, rather than residents having to travel to central locations.

And it will provide a platform for national and Borders-wide charities to work with rural communities where there has been little engagement in the past.

The bus will carry resources and information from a range of organisations, and Bavs will be supporting the setup of new community groups and activities.

Events will include Berwickshire in Lockdown exhibitions, which will provide a record of the pandemic, and will be used to help Bavs consult with local people about how they would like their communities to recover.

About Berwickshire will develop an interactive map of with bus-stop markers to inform the public where the mobile hub has been and where it is going. This will also enable villages to request a visit and can be used as a tool for us to plan events with them.

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still, said: “In these unprecedented times, it’s heartening to see the way Scottish communities are coming together to provide each other with support. I would like to congratulate Bavs on their award, which is testament to the incredible efforts of their staff and volunteers. National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is making such a difference.”