Redefining community – big plans ahead for Nesting, Girlsta and Wadbister

“THERE is a lot of community buy-in to the concept of recycling and re-using materials,” development officer Mark Ratter explains as he shows me around the well laid out Nesting Scrapstore, the workshop at the back of it, the community gym in the same building, and finally a brand-new office at the Aald Skül.

A lot has been achieved over recent years by Community Development Company of Nesting (or CDCN), and its plans for the future are similarly ambitious.

The social enterprise has just appointed a part-time team leader for its scrapstore to allow Ratter more time to focus on the many projects in his inbox.

Community resilience and social interaction are key to everything he and the CDCN committee does. The Covid pandemic and, more recently, the power cuts before Christmas have demonstrated how important the concept of community is to the wellbeing of everybody, he says.

“CDCN aims to be a focal point for the area; in our ambition we have to make sure that we are not duplicating anything that already exists in the community, and we take time to ensure that that doesn’t happen,” Ratter continues.

Community Development Company of Nesting development officer Mark Ratter. Photo: Shetland News

“The vision for Nesting is facility focused; to provide facilities that make folk come and also live in the area. A hub makes sense but you don’t want to take focus away from Wadbister, Girlsta and North Nesting, we need to make sure that all the areas are in discussions about facilities.

“There is a stream of folk who get involved in different initiatives and organisations. There is no shortage of ambition and tenacity.”

Recently, the CDCN received almost £90,000 from the Scottish Government’s islands programme and a further £25,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to fund creating a new access and parking at the back of what used to be the old Nesting school.

The money will also be used to extend the existing scrapstore and increase the area where donated items can be prepared for sale.

There are also plans to set up a ‘repair shed’ where local people will be given the opportunity to come together to work on projects, and exchange skills by building and repairing whatever needs attention.

And then there is the vision of a community allotment area with as many as five Polycrubs as well as outside growing beds to further increase resilience by providing a space where fruit and vegetables can be grown.

Should all this come to fruition there will also be a tree plantation and an area where people can walk and relax.

While turning this vision into reality may take a few years, the pressures of high energy prices and falling incomes may be felt in the Nesting area a little more, as this is an area where average incomes are slightly lower than elsewhere in Shetland, a recent survey found.

As such the importance of the scrapstore and what it has to offer in second hand products is set to increase, and there are plans afoot to extend opening hours from the current Sundays 2pm to 5pm, and Wednesdays 1pm to 3pm.

And, crucially, not everybody in the community is able to make it to the Aald Skül, so reaching out to those who are housebound is as important, Mark explains.

“I like to think there [will] come the day where we can deliver goods and services to folk who are struggling to get out of the house; nine per cent of folk in Nesting don’t have access to a vehicle, which is a fair amount.”

Shetland News