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East Camp Trust – now renamed (Gaelic name)….. is a thriving community owned and managed Social Economy Park providing social, recreational, economic and environmental benefit to the community of Benbecula and beyond. As the "gateway" to Balivanich by road and air, this former RAF base gives a favourable impression of the increased prosperity and development of the whole area

An impressive breadth of activities and services take place on site.


The Riding School (URCS) is the only remaining Ministry of Defence legacy. It has become a fully fledged community business deriving the large majority of its income from a wide variety of equestrian activities for all ages and abilities including disabled people. It has indoor and outdoor riding facilities, takes people riding on nearby beaches and has a bridle path round the site. It caters for locals and tourists alike and its pony rides are popular at local community events. It provides certificated training in horse management and supports a private equestrian retail business on site. 

The riding school provides the very important ingredient of manure for other site users gardens!


Tagsa Uibhist is a major provider of primary community care services in Uist and derives most of its income from delivering public services through contracting with the public sector. Its 30 staff work in people's homes providing care, and in its day centre with garden on site caters for people with a wide variety of disabilities and special needs and provides a welcome break for carers from their responsibilities. It is the base for a flexible fleet of transport which relieves the isolation felt by many and forms part of the overall transport strategy for Uist. Its training room is extensively used to deliver community care training by and to voluntary and public sector bodies. Its sensory garden has a corner which grows indigenous plants and herbs and older people who attend the Centre pass on their knowledge and skills of their culinary and medicinal uses. Gaelic language and history is promoted by the staff through reminiscence work, informal ceilidhs and formal archive recording linking with other local projects. The arts and crafts project worker from Taigh Chearsabhagh also works with service users. It houses 2 projects which place volunteers and is a leading member of strategic working groups in Uist concerned with planning and delivering community care services.


Caladh Trust helps people affected by addiction, family breakdown, exclusion illness and poverty. An Caladh, its building on site, has developed a range of services and activities aimed at supporting and empowering vulnerable individuals to play a full part in society. It has created a Social Firm which works closely with Employment Services, New Deal and Careers Scotland amongst others to re-integrate service users back into the workforce and to their communities. The Social Firm has the contract to do all the environmental maintenance on site, assists at the riding school,  and hopes to be awarded other contracts. It provides a service for minor household repairs and has a limited furniture restoration project. This links with the "Starter Pack" scheme which helps individuals and families with new tenancies to get the basics to turn their house into a home. A Local Economy Trading Scheme has also been launched which enables skill sharing across a wide spectrum of the community: current skills on offer range from car maintenance to hairdressing to computer fixing to form filling. Caladh's garden and greenhouse has flowers and vegetables and links with lifeskills and healthy eating classes which they run. Caladh continue to offer individual and group support and counselling to individuals with substance abuse problems.

Its minibus decreases isolation. Promotion of Gaelic language and culture is built into its business plan.


Caladh also has a squash court and 2 pieces of fitness equipment which provides leisure facilities for its users, and an income stream from general public use. It works closely with health professionals through GP referral schemes to complement other leisure provision in the community. It has a café and internet computers which is largely for its own members and users but occasionally is used for community fundraising events and conferences.


Uist Council of Voluntary Organisations provides support, information, advice and services to the 200 community and voluntary groups in Uist for which it is core-funded by Scottish Executive and other public agencies. It has recently moved into a purpose built office suite on site.

It owns and manages the local community newspaper Am Paipear and has a thriving income generating community press which caters for most of the island's printing requirements. It has a Thrift shop which co-operates with Caladh in collecting and recycling unwanted furniture, bric-a-brac, books and clothing – surplus stock goes to the Blythswood charity. UCVO also manage a gardening scheme throught Uist for elderly and disabled people which is funded in part by Local Authority.


UCVO provides work experience and training placements both in UCVO and in Am Paipear.

It has a commitment to promotion of Gaelic language and culture principally through Am Paipear

It is the base for the Western Isles Credit union's activities in Uist, has a publicly available state of the art video-conferencing centre used both by individuals and groups/agencies.

It has a leading role in disseminating information and representing groups in Uist on strategic partnerships such as Community Planning.


Other activities and features on site:


Uist and Barra Bowling Association lease land from the Trust to run a successful outdoor bowling facility open to members and the public including tourists. It has inter-island tournaments and uses the other facilities on site when necessary. They are considering building their own clubhouse.

"CRP building":


1.Office suite is currently occupied by a commercial firm who have moved to the area and created 6 new jobs. Its staff are encouraged to engage with site activity through volunteering.


2. Bomb proof building: Half is let to a high-tech data electronic storage company and the other half to various agencies and companies to store manual records etc, one area stores horticultural products in cold storage and one area for Caladh's furniture restoration training project.


3. Garage area is a training workshop for vehicle maintenance, driving safety courses etc used by Liniclate school and the college.


4. (Flat) Roof space is used by computer company, there are bee hives and a roof garden to provide an interesting first view of Balivanich from the air


Murals have been done by Balivanich's youth group and there are sculptures on site


Various garage and shed spaces on site are let to private businesses sometimes in return for work done on site (eg general maintenance and plumbing)


Landscaped areas generally enhance the site: we have had the services of Beechgrove garden to plan the site and to engage the community in design and delivery.

Community composting scheme makes use of the horse manure.


Joint Trust activities and projects:


3 major joint community events are organised every year:


  • As part of Benbecula Gala Week, the Trust and those on site join up with Qinetic, HIAL and emergency services to have a fundraising open day with a wide variety of family activities      
  • Joint Christmas function: each group undertaking a particular remit re. cooking, organisation, entertainment etc
  • Joint open day and fundraising concert/ceilidh/barn dance with Benbecula Community Association, Youth group and Community Council 

UCVO's video conferencing facilities are used by the Trust to establish and develop a relationship with groups worldwide through Prescience Communications making use of new broadband technology. Regular links are also maintained to Scottish Parliament and other decision makers.


Am Paipear is online and each group makes a regular contribution on their activities. There is a training element to this project which is undertaken jointly with Cothrom and/or College


Western Isles Credit Union: the site is a major collection point for individual payments and training of volunteers.


Uist Citizen's Advice Bureau are regularly invited to give benefits and other advice to people on site

Western Isles Community Planning Partnership and Comhairle's Community Support Unit: Trust members and Service users are regularly consulted on relevant issues and invited to participate at a strategic level in formulating policy in their areas of interest

Future developments:

The Trust is now making sufficient profit to pay all the ongoing site and Trust management costs and has some surplus. The Trust is drawing up criteria for re-investing in community projects. These may be initiated and managed by the Trust itself, individual groups and/or applications invited from other community groups                                                  


For further information, contact:

Marie Campbell

Development Manager

C/o Tagsa Building

East Camp




Tel: 01870 – 603345




JUNE 2004:




SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT is at the heart of the East Camp project. We envisage this over-arching principle being pursued in a number of ways:


Ÿ         Development of Social Economy/Enterprise on site:

The individual Trust members will work towards developing aspects of their "businesses" which will allow them to be less grant dependent.

The Trust itself will develop income streams to pay for ongoing running (property and management) costs – by leasing and/or selling buildings, land equipment.

In the longer term, surplus income will either pay for the Trust's development plans or that of individual trust members. Further surpluses will be used to encourage development (probably on site) of other community businesses/enterprises. We hope that the successful developments at East Camp will inspire social entrepreneurship elsewhere in the Western isles and beyond


Ÿ         Eco-friendly environment:

all aspects of renewable energy, energy efficiency, recycling and similar measures will be fully explored and appropriate action taken both by Trust and individual members.


Ÿ         Restoring and preserving the traditions and culture of the area:

The East Camp land was originally in crofting tenure as is some of the current surrounding land. We hope to co-operate with neighbouring crofters to ensure sensitive use of the land and developments. The Gaelic heritage of the area will be acknowledged and promoted eg signage and the local Gaelic speaking community consulted on history, culture and their ideas for the future


Ÿ         Integration and complementarity:

The development will seek to adhere to the broad vision and ethos of the Western Isles Community Plan and to the strategic direction set by its various fora and action teams.


We will neither duplicate efforts among our own members nor the wider communities of Balivanich/Benbecula and Uists. We will go further in actively networking to promote information, understanding and sharing ideas for working together for the betterment of the social, economic, cultural and environmental life of Uist.


Ÿ         Community Participation:

Our vision will not be realised if we do not have the wider community "on side". This requires going beyond token consultation on plans already formulated – we must actively seek ideas and views from current users of activities and services already provided, potential users and all who wish to encourage and support us. Not all ideas will be workable, affordable, appropriate or desirable

Am Paipear will have a critical role in this process.


Ÿ         Equal opportunities:

We must pursue a pro-active policy: not a token piece of paper in a file. Each

group will promote non-discriminatory inclusion in its own activities. The Trust will

consult appropriate local bodies eg Uist Disability Access Panel and Women @

Work about issues and expectations and will make itself aware of good practice




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Company Registration No. 278156. Scottish Charity No. SC 029210