Enhancing Wellbeing in Our Island Communities
Enhancing Wellbeing in Our Island Communities
(funded by the Aspiring Communities Fund and led by VAO)

In 2018 VAO in collaboration with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, 7 development trusts and Robert Gordon University commissioned research into community led care in the non linked isles. The research was carried out by Rosie Alexander and the report recommended that the isles communities continue to build and extend existing community services and identify the potential for bringing new services to the isles.

As a result a project has been co-produced with the above partners and Papay Community Council. The islands involved are: Hoy, Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, Shapinsay, Stronsay and Sandy. The aim of the project is to enhance the wellbeing of older people living on these islands. A project manager and evaluator have been appointed and are employed by VAO. Island wellbeing co-ordinators have been appointed in each island and are managed by each island Development Trust.

The co-ordinators are working hard to produce delivery plans for their individual islands and these plans will be publicly available in the autumn of 2019. Some of the activities already being carried out include organising a dementia friendly workshop on Rousay, providing an outlet for small daily living aids on Hoy and Walls with the support of Selbro, supporting isles initiatives such as setting up Men’s Sheds and looking at ways to encourage the use of existing island assets such as the Healthy Living Centres. They have also provided crucial support to the Community Led Support team to set up workshops in Sanday.

Project Update June 2020

Extending the Reach of the Enhancing Wellbeing In Our Islands Communities Project

The Enhancing Wellbeing Project has been given the opportunity through funding from Aspiring Communities Fund, to continue focussing on the wellbeing of people living in the non-linked islands of Hoy, Shapinsay, Sanday, Stronsay and Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre. This project starting in March 2020 will extend the reach of the original Enhancing Wellbeing in our Island communities (EWOIC) Project, to address other areas of inequality. The existing project team can continue and will develop by building on existing relationships to facilitate solutions to issues of hidden poverty and disadvantage which were emerging during the initial EWOIC project. In their short time in existence the co-ordinator roles have become a safety net to the primary care offered on island. These community-based posts are in a unique position to galvanise local action to find solutions to inequality of access to wellbeing services on the isles.

This funding will enable our unique partnership to progress essential work, and will:-

· Create opportunities for new skills and employment

· Enable the co-production of solutions to the inequalities experienced by individual and groups across the participating islands. Some of these inequalities are already known as they have been highlighted during the EWIOIC project and have yet to be addressed as they were outwith the scope of the initial project.

· Support communities to find their own solution to their own problems

· Demonstrate the significant benefits of early engagement with communities and taking a bottom-up approach

· Have the potential to be a model that can be adapted to address similar problems in other areas

· Demonstrate additionality through the involvement and commitment of several agencies to establish and monitor the chosen solution

· Establish and maintain an innovative partnership between development trusts, HIE, VAO, RGU and Orkney Health and Care which will lay the foundation for sustainable approaches to community challenges

· Build on, or redesign, existing local service provision to provide support to meet local demand and local need and to tackle inequalities in a local context.

· Enable communities to be involved with other partners in planning and delivering services to meet local need

This project aims to deliver significant benefits to island communities. The end result aims to ensure that people are supported to access early interventions thereby reducing the need for statutory interventions. This project will take a holistic, intergenerational approach, which will utilise the full breadth of the community to address issues of inequality, and in particular low income groups, lone parents and workless households.

For more information about the project please contact Harry Johnson, Project Manager on 

Community Link Practitioners work in partnership with Voluntary Action Orkney and Orkney GP Practices and use a social prescribing model to help patients to navigate and engage with wider services. 

Within Orkney, Community Link Practitioners are embedded within a GP practice, and work directly with patients to support them to access services. This includes assisting patients who need support due to the complexity of their conditions or rurality.  Practitioners can attend appointments with patients, provide advocacy, and attend activities with patients until they feel confident to go by themselvesfollowing receipt of a referral from a GP 

Our Community Link Practitioners work with people of all ages, as well as families, for as long as it takes, building trusting relationships and helping patients to recognise and manage their difficulties and engage with services within the statutory and third sectors.  

The project is currently undergoing outcomedriven evaluation against a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures informed by data from VISION, as well as qualitative information from partners and patients.  This project is being initially piloted in two GP practices, Heilendi and Stromness.

Community Engagement Project

Our Aspiring Communities Funded, Community Engagement Project aims to deliver an innovative means to ensure that as many people as possible, particularly those experiencing disadvantage and inequality, have a say in shaping future services as we move out of lockdown and focus on the renew agenda. In addition, to contribute the views of the community to Locality Plans, which will be the focus of future activity for the Orkney Partnership Board (OPB). 

This project is a mix of development and delivery and will use a two-step approach to develop solutions from the ideas generated by the communities.  This co-production will ensure that place-based solutions are specifically tailored to address the issues identified within the locality plans all of which will have a focus on reducing inequalities.   

A Community Engagement Workerbased within Voluntary Action Orkney, will consult/engage with communities initially in identified areas of Kirkwall and the West Mainland of Orkney which are considered to be most in need of focused support through Locality Plans. We will work closely with the Strong Communities Delivery Group and others, e.g. Third Sector Forum members and the wider network of third sector organisations, to communicate effectively with our communities and develop trusting relationships to enable inclusive consultation, the development of Locality Plans and projects/services designed to meet identified needs.    

The consultations will use the place standard as a focus with carefully designed consultation approaches to encourage inclusion then in the latter phase, when solutions and ideas begin to emerge we will explore with local partners the use of participatory budgeting; opportunities for community led initiatives and solutions will be identified and support provided as required.  

If you would like to discuss this project please get in touch with Rebecca Crawford  or telephone 0185 872897


Tech Peer Mentor

Technology Peer Mentoring programme 

The Technology Peer Mentoring programme comprises a multi-agency approach to developing and delivering technological solutions to enable support programmes across partner agencies.  

Building on what has worked well in the delivery of digital services during ‘lockdown’ the programme aims to promote continuous improvement and innovation using technologyenabled care within health and social care provision 

 Specifically the Project will: 

  • ensure the adoption of technology enabled care is maximised across Partnership services to deliver safe, effective, personalised care and support outcomes 
  • provide bespoke peer mentor support to a range of health and social care practitioners in public and third sector organisations in relation to technology enabled care where appropriate  
  • Implement relevant learning and development initiatives and where appropriate lead on specific technological enabled care work streams, ensuring high quality service provision and high levels of adoption by all partners  

A Tech Peer Mentor will work with the Integration Joint Board’s Tech First Programme Board to contribute to the planning and continuous improvement of service delivery, build on change and participate in innovative service development.  

The post of Tech Peer Mentor is currently being advertised and more information can be found here 

  • VAO Newsletter

    Have a read of our latest newsletter, look through our archive or sign up to receive it in your inbox.


  • Orkney Community Directory

    View our comprehensive list of community and voluntary groups in Orkney along with other organisations and services that may be of interest to you.


VAO Newsletter

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.