Energy Costs Support for the Islands

Winter heating bills are rising to unaffordable levels and we are keen to remind permanent residents of Mull, Iona, Ulva, Gometra and Erraid that financial help is available from the Fuel Hardship Fund.

The Fuel Hardship Fund is a home grown scheme run by The Waterfall Fund, an independent charity setup to receive the profits from Garmony Hydro and distribute them as grants to the communities of Mull and Iona. Garmony Hydro and the Waterfall Fund were setup by Mull and Iona Community Trust. Residents able to demonstrate they are in fuel poverty will receive one-off payments of £250 per household no matter how their house is heated. Applications to this fund are completely confidential.

In addition to the Fuel Hardship Fund, further support is available:

We would also like to highlight this guide Do You have Money Worries developed by the Bute Advice Centre. The helpful guide covers topics such as maximising your income, budgeting tips, dealing with debt, energy advice and support services.

For more information on The Fuel Hardship Fund please contact

Work Starts on Glengorm Affordable Housing Project

Glengorm Farming Partnership has secured significant funding to convert disused farm buildings near Tobermory into five affordable housing units.


Recognising the acute need for affordable housing on Mull, Glengorm is committed to increasing the supply of permanent homes locally, including releasing land for new builds and converting some of their properties from short-term to long-term lets.  Renovating a disused barn in the farm square will add a further five new homes, which will be offered for affordable rent to those in housing need on completion.

 The project has been made possible thanks to grant funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, and Argyll & Bute Council’s Strategic Housing Fund.  Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) supported Glengorm in securing the grant funding, carrying out community consultation work to evidence the housing need, and advising on the required allocation policy.

 While the Rural & Islands Housing Fund is open to landowners across all sectors, the majority of recipients to date have been community groups.  Glengorm is the first private landowner in Argyll to have been awarded such a grant, and it is hoped others will follow suit and contribute to increasing the number of affordable homes in our most rural communities.

 Tom Nelson, owner of Glengorm, commented, “We are very excited, at Glengorm, that our latest housing project is now well underway. Repurposing redundant farm buildings is a great way to add to the rental housing stock in our community without greatly impacting the beauty of the island. The addition of these 5 homes will increase or long term rental properties to 13 on Glengorm, with well over 50 residents, the highest number in over 120 years.  We would like to thank Helen MacDonald of MICT for help in securing the necessary funding.  Also continued thanks to Gus Robertson for building it and AGL Architects for their design.”

 MICT Housing Development Manager Helen MacDonald added, “we have been delighted to support Glengorm with this affordable housing project, and it is great to see work now underway after delays relating to Covid.”

The project is being led by AGL Architects with construction by Gus Robertson Building Contractors.  More details about how to apply to rent the new houses will be made available towards the end of the year.

 MICT offers housing advice and consultancy services across Mull and Iona, and would be happy to speak to any local landowners considering how they can support the delivery of affordable housing locally, please contact Helen MacDonald, Housing Development Manager: or 01680 812 912.  More information about the Rural & Islands Housing Fund can be found here:

New Public Access Defibrillator

We are pleased to announce that Island Bakery Organics is now hosting a Public Access Defibrillator, adding to the network across Mull and Iona – THIRTY THREE in total! Big thanks to Joe Reade and to Cathy Mellor who will take care of the defibrillator carrying out the monthly checks.

Moray with Cathy and Joe at the new Public Access Defibrillator

Here is the up to date map of the 33 public access defibrillators across Mull, Iona, Erraid and Ulva.
Please share it widely.

If you would like to make a donation towards the running cost of a defibrillator, request a printed copy or would like to find out more about what is involved in hosting one, please contact

Rural Housing Burdens: A Partial Solution to Our Housing Crisis?

Mull is experiencing a housing crisis. Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) receives regular pleas from individuals, families and businesses desperately seeking homes on the island across all tenures. The lack of housing is causing significant problems to our communities and threatens to accelerate depopulation of our working age residents.

The demand for homes to facilitate holiday boltholes and lifestyle changes post-pandemic has driven up house prices, far beyond the reach of average households living on the island. An increasing number of self-catering lets to meet the heightened domestic holiday market, while providing valuable income for many, has negatively impacted on the long-term lets options for key workers and business employees.

Various plans for new affordable housing developments will help address this issue, but they take time to come to fruition. Meanwhile, many feel they will never get a foot on the property ladder, and face the prospect of continued renting uncertainty or having to leave the island.

There is, however, an option which ensures that houses being sold must be the primary residence of the owner – FOREVER. A Rural Housing Burden is a mechanism under Scots Law which places a Title Condition on the deeds of a property which will apply in perpetuity. Under the Land Reform Act, a Rural Housing Burden can only be applied by a designated Rural Housing Body: MICT was approved by Scottish Ministers as a Rural Housing Body in 2014.

When a burden is first applied on behalf of the owner, the vendor may wish to offer a discount, usually 20-40% below the market valuation to help make it more affordable.

The new property owner would have full legal title and ownership of their home, but they would be bound by legally enforceable conditions of the Burden which ensures that it must be their main residence and not let as a holiday home.

Once the Burden is in place, MICT has a pre-emptive right to buy it back if the owner ever wishes to sell. If MICT does buy the property back it would be at the discount percentage (if applicable) of the current market valuation and it would then be sold on at the same discount percentage. This ensures that the original discount made will endure in perpetuity. The conditions and MICT’s right of pre-emption remain with the Title forever.
For someone selling a property, the Rural Housing Burden, while possibly reducing the sale price, would give peace of mind that the house would remain as someone’s home in perpetuity, and their generosity would not be taken advantage of. For the new owner, it would be a means of buying more affordably and still being able to benefit from the proportional rise in market prices if they sold on in the future.

If you are considering selling and would like to find out more, contact Helen MacDonald at MICT for a confidential chat: email or call 01680 812 912.

Ulva Ferry Housing Phase 2

Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT), working with Ulva School Community Association (USCA), are delighted to have appointed The Wee House Company to build four affordable houses at Ulva Ferry, on the Isle of Mull. This news is a culmination of three years’ dedicated work to secure land and funding for this project, which will meet an ongoing acute housing need locally.

Thanks to a grant of £777,855 from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, £48,000 from Argyll & Bute Council’s Strategic Housing Fund, a mortgage from Ecology Building Society and many individual donations, a full funding package has now been secured. MICT is also grateful to the Scottish Land Fund, The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Nationwide Community Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise for funding the Project Officer’s post.

This ambitious project will see construction of 4 houses at Ulva Ferry, on the west coast of the Isle of Mull, on two plots of land – one purchased via the Scottish Land Fund, and one donated by a local landowner. The houses will be offered with secure tenancies to those in housing need. Rents will be affordable, in line with social housing on Mull, and will be economical to heat. A locally agreed allocation policy will be used to prioritise applications. While MICT is a registered private landlord, they are working with West Highland Housing Association, who offer assistance with allocations, management support, and advice to tenants.

Delivering affordable long-term rental homes will have a real positive impact for the local community at Ulva Ferry, including an increase in the primary school roll, and the number of working age adults to work locally which will boost the fragile local economy. USCA Convenor Josh Liddle commented, “it is fantastic to see The Wee House Company formally appointed to manage this project after so much work behind the scenes. We look forward to welcoming more people to our community here at Ulva Ferry next year”.

MICT Convenor, Sandy Brunton, added, “affordable housing is consistently a priority issue across Mull and Iona and this project is a really good example of community powered regeneration. We are so fortunate to have Helen MacDonald, our very experienced Housing Project Officer, steering us through all the challenges of building homes for rent in a very rural area”.

The Wee House Company is at the forefront of modular construction in Scotland. Homes are 90% complete before leaving their Ayrshire factory and are delivered to site ready-fitted with kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing and electrics, meaning they can be completed and occupied far quicker than traditional builds. Factory conditions help reduce waste and improve quality control, whilst eliminating the effects of inclement weather.

Managing Director Jennifer Higgins said “The need for affordable homes has never been greater and with our newly launched brand ‘Connect Modular’ we look forward to contributing high quality, sustainable homes to help tackle this issue. With our wealth of experience building in remote and island communities we are very much looking forward to working with MICT and USCA to deliver these much-needed homes for residents of Mull.”

For more details about the Ulva Ferry housing project, or if you want to discuss affordable housing issues anywhere on Mull and Iona, please contact Helen MacDonald on 01680 812 918 or email

MESS Island Castaways & Donations

Thank you to everyone for their patience and understanding while our charity shops have been closed. We are looking at ways to reopen our shops in as soon as it’s safe to do so. We are also investigating selling online by ebay and more locally via facebook (we will post updates as we have them). We know lots of you have items ready to donate and for that we are truly grateful. We will need your donations, and your custom, more than ever.

As many of you have indicated that that have been busy clearing out during lockdown, we anticipate being very busy initially, and so we will need to accept donations in a very controlled manner. We are looking at how to safely accept donations at drop off points – we will let you know more details nearer the time. We will also be quarantining donations for 72 hours before they are sorted, meaning lack of storage space is likely to be an issue.

One big thing you can do before donating is sort it yourself by following these checklists: Donating clothing

  • Is the item damaged in any way
  • Is the fabric bobbly
  • Would I buy this item?

If you don’t think it’s good enough to sell, please can you place in a separate bag marked rags. We can still send these for recycling as long as they are clean.

Donating Toys

  • Are all the pieces there?
  • Is it broken in any way?
  • Are the boxes badly damaged?

Donating small Electrical goods

  • Is the item in good repair
  • Is it fully functioning? We test electrical goods but do not do repairs.

Donating furniture

  • Is the upholstery ripped or stained
    • Is it clean.
    • Is the wood or glass scratched or damaged?
    • Is the correct fire label still attached?

If so , we ask that you dispose of them yourself as our strict re-use standards only allow us to sell quality checked items.

This will help us save time and cut down on waste, meaning more time and money can go towards supporting our recycling project and the community.

We hope to post more updates very soon about when you can shop, donate and volunteer – as well as, crucially, how we will be keeping you all safe. Thank you again for your patience.

For more information please contact Hazel Cowe at

Ulva Ferry Pontoon, Shore Facilities and Gateway Centre

Aerial view of Ulva Ferry car park under construction

Like most areas of life as we know it, the Ulva Ferry car park improvement project came to a grinding halt in late March, so close to completion, after a sterling job from TSL and subcontractors in challenging winter weather. Work continues to finalise signage ready for when construction work can begin again in phase 2 of the Scottish Government coronavirus route map.

The community planting day was postponed, and the saplings kindly donated by Rachel Watt and Lucy MacKenzie are being cared for by Moray in readiness to plant out in the Autumn.

Design work has continued on the shore facilities building thanks to a grant from The Waterfall Fund and RTIF (Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund), and whilst effort has been diverted to bring in much need MICT core funding, due to lack of income during the pandemic, it is hoped that work will begin again soon on the shore facilities development project to secure planning and funding.

The Ulva Ferry pontoon has been quiet during the beautiful spring weather but has been providing berthing for fishing boats, and now local recreational boats. We hope we can welcome back visiting boats later in the summer.

Cally Fleming, Shore Facilities Development Officer

Aros Park Walled Garden Update

This really is going to be one heck of a project. The progress we have made in the last few months has been really encouraging. For a start, we now have permission from Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to start work, plus they are very supportive of what we are doing and are willing to help wherever they can.

With great thanks to an island resident who just happens to have been a walled garden designer in the past, we now have a design layout for the garden, this has come with a full planting list as well. This design has been discussed at length within the steering group and we have agreed that something very close to this will be the basis for the renovated garden. With his expert knowledge, we now know that we need to follow the original layout of the garden, so we will be looking to rediscover the original paths and border boundaries.

Progress has also been made on the wall. A survey has now been carried out, and the report is good news. It’s not perfect by a long way, but it is safe. Unfortunately, the repair bill for the section that has fallen will not be small, but there are ways to mitigate this.

We are now very close to the clearing the ground stage of the project. However, before we can make a start there are a number of trees in and around the garden that need to be removed. Once these are clear, then we will be looking for helpers to come in and clear the ground and find out what there is in the garden that is worth keeping.

If you would like to get involved, either with the steering group, or with the digging and clearing, please let me know, we’d love to see you.

– Richard Thorne, Project Officer

Rethink Mess Spring Update

The ReThink MESS project has been running from April last year and will run until April 2020. We received grant funding from the Scottish Governments Climate Challenge Fund.

Our Community fridge is going well with 283kg being redistributed or composted since the start of 2019. This would otherwise have gone to landfill, producing methane as it breaks down. This is a great success, and we hope to be saving even more as the 2019 season springs into action.

We have also just sent out leaflets and fridge magnets to all the self-catering properties on Mull and Iona to encourage people at the end of their stay to put any sealed, unopened food that is within its use-by date in the fridge before they get on the ferry. This should increase donations from the public.

After the success of the “Recycling on the go” stations at the Highland games, Bunessan and Salen Shows in 2018. We are awaiting delivery of our Recycling on the go permanent stations, that will be placed around the island. These will be in strategic places around the island.
Our business composting is taking off with the delivery of composters nearly complete. These are for high volume food waste producers out with the Tobermory area who will not be able to use the Big Hanna composter that is coming to Tobermory late April

As part of our carbon education, we are running workshops and events focussed on food waste reduction and low carbon food choices over the course of the project.

We held a Real Junk Food dinner at the start of February at Ballygown Restaurant with 16 attendees. Not only did this highlight that so much good food is wasted, but we also raised £160 that has been donated to MacMillan Cancer Support. We have to thank Jeanette Cutlack for hosting a great evening. Not only agreeing to host it but the added stress of not knowing what she would be getting for ingredients until the evening before!

We’ve had few upcycling events too, with two furniture events, one in Craignure with Jennifer Jack showing attendees how to make chalk paint and then using this on furniture. The other was held by Mull Makers in Fionnaphort over 2 days.

We also held a Bicycle Repair workshop at Bedoun Agri in March which was well attended despite the weather! Thankfully the polytunnel kept us dry.

In early 2019 we held a hot composting workshop which was very well attended with 18 attendees some with composters and others looking at getting one. We had a phone in with some experts at Hotbins UK who were able to give great advice to top up what our resident experts were able to impart.

As spring is in the air, we will be concentrating on the food waste collection service around the Tobermory area. We have had the budget released and are in the process of buying our polytunnel and Big Hanna composter. We are interviewing for staff to run the collections and composting and are signing people up to the trial, keep an eye on the MESS Facebook page for regular updates.

If you wish to get involved or have any comments on any of our outcomes, them please give Ewan Baxter a call or drop him an Email at

Ulva Ferry Shore Facilities Project Update

Ulva Ferry Shore Facilities Update

Over the past 8 months, we have been continuing to work on Phase 2 of the waterfront development at Ulva Ferry – to improve the visitor – and local – experience and services, provide economic benefit to the area and sustain and help develop business opportunities. We have recently been awarded funding from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) for the proposed car park improvements, the 3 motor home stances and chemical waste disposal point and Ulva car park resurfacing works and this should help with congestion and motorhome management in the summer months.

Over the winter, we have been working with USCA and the local community, developing plans to apply to the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF) for development funding for the shore facilities building at Ulva Ferry. This fund “supports new opportunities to promote the outstanding scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in ways which support inclusive and sustainable economic growth. It has an aim to retain jobs and sustain populations and services in rural communities.”

Interpretation is a key component of the proposed building at Ulva Ferry, and the project has adopted the name Doras Caolas Ulbha – Sound of Ulva Gateway. The project will work in partnership with a number of local and national organisations to interpret and help protect the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Loch na Keal National Scenic area, including Staffa and The Treshnish Islands, as well as providing other visitor facilities, such as toilets, showers and laundrette facilities.

The project will signpost to Ulva, local businesses and places of interest, encourage responsible access and it will use innovative technology to bring some of the area’s unique heritage into the centre – making it accessible to all. The project will include a Ranger position and create and support further jobs in the community. Many thousands of  visitors pass through the National Scenic Area in the summer months, it is hoped that the project and visitor management activities will help ensure that the outstanding natural and cultural heritage is sustainable for future generations of residents and visitors.

If you would like to find out more, comment or be involved in Doras Caolas Ulbha, please contact