There have been many positives in the Covid 19 crisis. Groups and individuals across the island very quickly came together to organise all sorts of help to each other and in particular the shielding and the vulnerable amongst the population. There are teams of helpers doing shopping, delivering prescriptions and keeping in touch with those living on their own. Local shops and food outlets have adapted their service to make sure it’s easy to get meals and supplies delivered. Our parent body, The Mull and Iona Community Trust has been using the community bus to deliver food and prescriptions and also coordinate a team of volunteers across the island to make scrubs for our hospital.
It’s been lovely seeing families having time together to make the most of their daily exercise time. I have seen more people out walking and cycling than ever before. Daily exercise have included people doing litter picks and beach cleans.
With no visitors allowed on the island, its very peaceful. The roads are quiet and the birds and other wildlife are in abundance. It’s easy to find a beach to social distance and relax.
People are finding time to take up gardening, growing their own vegetables for the first time. Its brought a community together with everyone sharing gardening tips, spare plants and seedlings and the transformation of neglected back gardens.
With limited access to shopping it has been amazing to see people upcycling, repurposing and repairing items. Old furniture stored in sheds destined for landfill have been lovingly restored with a lick of paint. Pallets destined for firewood have been transformed into raised beds and garden furniture.
A few years ago, when our council service introduced recycling bins and reduced our general waste collections, there was much concern. During Covid 19, our kerbside recycling collection has ceased but people are reluctant to take advantage of recycling being allowed to be put out as waste and are instead saving it until it can be collected for recycling or using milk cartons and tubs for gardening pots etc. In a positive way, people have become aware of the volumes of single use items they consume and hopefully they are looking for alternatives.
The island economy is faring well as people are mostly shopping locally and enjoying the fantastic local produce we have on the island. This has certainly helped with the carbon footprint and helped sustain local businesses. There is an online shop covering all the islands isle20.com that has helped Scottish Islands who are missing tourist business to have a free online market place.
Both our distilleries on Mull, Tobermory Distillery and White Tail gin have produced hand sanitiser and donated it to all the residents and also the Tobermory Soap shop has donated soap to the community.
We are a community that have concerns for our future as we are reliant on tourism, but hopefully in our recovery we will be able to make positive changes to our lives and the island and to continue the great practices that have come about as a result of lockdown.
Hazel Cowe is a member of the Mull and Iona Community Trust and is currently working on the MESS project – Mull Environmentally Sensitive Solutions. Funded by The Pebble Trust, the project will develop a website and leaflet promoting information about environmental and sustainability issues that relate specifically to the remote and rural locations of Mull and Iona.