National islands plan: annual report - 2020

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 requires that a report is presented to Parliament each year setting out the progress made towards delivery of the National Islands Plan. The National Islands Plan annual report 2020 is the first of these reports.

Implementation and Measurement of the National Islands Plan

Strategic Objective 13 - To support effective implementation of the National Islands Plan

We committed to establish a robust process to ensure the timely publication of a detailed Implementation Route Map setting out clear actions with defined responsibilities for action and timescales to support the delivery of the National Islands Plan.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

The initial development of the National Islands Plan Implementation Route Map was significantly delayed as a result of the pandemic.

As a priority, and with input from the Islands Partnership Working Group and island stakeholders, Scottish Government Islands officials are currently developing the National Islands Plan Implementation Route Map informed by our learning of how island communities have responded and adapted to changing circumstances. Scottish Government colleagues, local government partners, and island stakeholders have all provided input to the Implementation Route Map.

The Implementation Route Map will detail how we will deliver our priorities over the lifetime of the National Islands Plan. It will identify the methods we will use to monitor progress towards achieving our outcomes and set out how we'll deliver our work over the short, medium and long-term. The Route Map itself will be shortly published as a living document, in recognition that priorities for island communities and across policy can change, especially in these uncertain times. Therefore, this Route Map is designed so as to be able to respond to fresh challenges and adapt as they arise.

We committed to develop indicators applicable to each Strategic Objective in collaboration with Scottish Government agencies, local authorities, island communities and relevant island socio-economic actors based on the SMART criteria and building on the National Performance Framework and Sustainable Development Goals.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Further research is being undertaken to gather the necessary data in order to set the baselines for our measurable outcomes. Scottish Government Islands Officials are currently developing a new Research Index and a Research Working Group to ensure that relevant data from our systems of measurement is captured and informs the monitoring of the National Islands Plan. This will include working in collaboration with our policy colleagues across Scottish Government, our local authority partners and island community stakeholders to identify pre-existing island statistics to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

We committed to host a series of island-based focus groups workshops, to discuss and agree the specific actions linked to each of the 13 Strategic Objectives in the Plan.

This commitment has been fulfilled.

A series of virtual workshops were held in January and February 2021 for each of the National Islands Plan's Strategic Objectives. These workshops were facilitated by a member of the Islands Team and a policy colleague from within Scottish Government who specialises in the specific Strategic Objective that is the focus of the session. The report from each workshop will be used to further develop the Implementation Route Map.

We committed to review the availability, usefulness of, and the wider barriers to, island level data both at an individual island level, groups of islands and consider the creation of a "Scottish Islands" data level in order to better understand the challenges faced by island communities

This commitment has been fulfilled.

In 2020, Scottish Government undertook an initial scoping exercise which confirmed that there are significant gaps in relation to islands level data across the board. In the absence of objective measures at islands level, there is a need to produce an alternate source of data that will measure the impact and effectiveness of the National Islands Plan in a consistent way. Consequently, we have commissioned the National Islands Plan Survey, which will allow us to gather the views of island communities, on a rating scale, across all of the Strategic Objectives, which we will then be able to compare our progress with for the duration of the National Islands Plan.

The Survey is not a direct substitute for a lack of statistical information, but rather, should complement such data when available. Consequently, taking into consideration the amount of research that would be necessary to fill the aforementioned data gaps, we will undertake a gradual approach to the amalgamation of island level data, which will take course over the first five years of the National Islands Plan.

We committed to create a Young Islanders Network constituted by young people from all Scottish islands that will have a consultative role in the implementation of the National Islands Plan to ensure that the delivery of the Plan fully considers the interests and priorities of young people.

This commitment has been fulfilled.

The Young Islanders Network Pilot project was launched 16 January 2021, fulfilling our Programme for Government Commitment. The Project will provide the opportunity for island residents aged 5-25 to highlight the issues facing them, and develop a network that will help to address these.

The Pilot is being delivered in three parts:

1. The Young Islanders Challenge: Open to young people between the ages of 5 and 25 living in our island communities, this is a data gathering project inviting these young islanders to highlight the issues most important to them. The Young Islanders are being encouraged to document this using any medium they prefer.

2. Young Islanders Champions: Youth Scotland will be working to identify an initial small group of young people (30 to 40) from across the 8 Island Hubs to be initial Young Islands Champions. Youth Scotland will work with them more closely and look to give them further skills in decision making and leadership, media skills and participation in team building tasks. The Young Islanders Champions will be encouraged to engage with, and represent the voice of our island youth in forums, organisations and events such as the Youth Parliament and Scottish Rural Parliament.

3. Mental Health Training: In April 2020, the LockdownLowdown report, commissioned by the Scottish Youth Parliament, YouthLink Scotland, and Young Scot found that young people are worrying most about education, mental wellbeing, and financial support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Two-fifths of 2500 respondents stated they are moderately or extremely concerned about their mental wellbeing, and two-fifths of respondents were not confident about accessing the information on mental health. The Pilot YIN project will support Youth Workers and volunteers to participate in Youth Scotland's Mental Health Foundation Course that they are running in partnership with mental health specialist Place2Be. Through the Young Islanders Network Pilot, we have guaranteed 150 places for youth workers and volunteers from the islands on the first course, meeting the need identified in the LockdownLowdown report, and the need to provide further mental health training highlighted in the Youth Commission on Mental Health Services Report 2019.

On 11 March 2021, as part of a series of training sessions, we held a a mini-event held enabling the Young Islanders to present some of their early views on the future of the Young Islanders Network, and provide initial feedback from the Young Islanders Challenge direct to Scottish Government Officials. .

We committed to establish a National Islands Plan Governance Group to ensure close monitoring of the Implementation Route Map. This group will oversee the delivery of the National Islands Plan and feedback on progress to the Islands Strategic Group and other interested parties.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

The establishment of a new National Islands Plan Delivery Group has been significantly delayed due to COVID-19. However, the Scottish Government are in now in the process of establishing this group to ensure the close monitoring of the Implementation Route Map with continued stakeholder and community input.

We committed to work with island communities to ensure that the Plan is widely promoted and understood by all sectors of society.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Scottish Government acknowledge that in order to ensure that the National Islands Plan leads to meaningful, positive and sustainable change, there needs to be ongoing collaboration with our island communities for the duration of the Plan. We continue to consult and collaborate with our island communities on a regular basis. This includes increased, targeted engagement at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow for real time information to be relayed from island communities to the appropriate policy department within Scottish Government. Additionally, we have continued to support the Islands Strategic Group to allow us to work closely with our local authority partners on delivery, and have recently undertaken island stakeholder workshops to inform the development of the Implementation Route Map for each strategic objective of the National Islands Plan. This, combined with the formation of the National Islands Plan Delivery Group and our recent Island Life Survey, will ensure that we secure broader engagement in the actions we need to take against each Strategic Objective.



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