Award-winning Western Isles Community Local Produce Hub is inspiring others to follow suit

A community local produce hub in the Western Isles is in line for a hat-trick of awards. It is inspiring other communities to follow in their footsteps.

Social enterprise Bùth Bharraigh Ltd is based in Castlebay on the Isle of Barra. It has won the Scottish Rural Parliament Rural Innovators Award 2016 for best business. The award recognises projects, people and organisations that improve life in Scottish rural communities.

It has also won "Britain’s Best Community Project" at the Rural Business Awards 2016. Awards co-founder Anna Price said:

Bùth Bharraigh Ltd was, we felt, simply an excellent example of a community project enterprise benefiting a whole community and beyond, in a remote area of Scotland.

Bùth Bharraigh has also been shortlisted for the Rural Community Ownership Award. The results will be announced in London on 28 November. They were also finalists at the Islands Food and Drink Awards 2016 (Independent Food & Drink retailer of the year - Highlands category)

Buth Bharraigh 3 Oct16

A small group of producers founded the community-owned shop in 2013. It sells quality goods and produces from local suppliers in Barra and Vatersay. It also offers employment, work placements and volunteering opportunities.

Sarah Maclean, managing director of Bùth Bharraigh Ltd, said: We are delighted and honoured to have received these awards and it is

We are delighted and honoured to have received these awards and it is testament to all our volunteers, producers and staff who have worked so hard to get us where we are today. We are still a relatively new company and we have extensive development plans that will continue our work and have a positive impact not only for local residents but also for visitors to the island.

Currently self-sustaining without any grant funding, in order to keep costs down many items within the shop are upcycled and the majority of work is carried out by volunteers – meaning a high percentage of the money spent in the Bùth goes to the producers.

Sarah added:

We are providing a lot of opportunities and a route to market for a lot of producers. We have over 80 local producers, ranging from teenagers to ladies in their 80s, as well as crafts, a laundrette and café area.

Now residents in Uist aim to replicate their successful model. Local councillor Donnie Steele, a partner in the new venture, said:

We aim to open up a shop called Uist Gifts & Info selling souvenirs, gifts and clothing from the isles and providing tourist information to visitors. It will be similar to Bùth Bharraigh as we looked at their success before going ahead with our project.

Many islanders have set up in business thanks to the support of Bùth Bharraigh.

Helen Mackinnon’s business Pickled Herring sells a range of products. She explains:

Buth Bharraigh was my first outlet and has been very supportive with advice and ideas. I have been trading through the Buth for nearly 15 months and work there as a volunteer a couple of hours a week which I love. My first year of trading has been more successful than I could have dreamed it would be.

I love living in Barra but work is often seasonal and short-term. In the eight years since we moved here I have juggled part-time work with young children and a husband who frequently works off-island. So I am very proud of the fact that I am able to work for myself

Bùth Bharraigh was one of the participants in our LaunchMe programme.