The SCVO Rural Blog

April 19, 2011

Top tips at Be Good Be Social

Filed under: Rural Network, Uncategorized — Tags: , — noretteferns @ 3:10 pm
Pencil with word tweet

Tweet tweet!

It’s been a whopping six months since my last blog and for this I apologise. On the plus side during the past six months I have been busy spending more time on social media for the Scotland National Rural Network website. Not only has this been a lot of fun, we have also made some excellent connections and encouraged more contributions for the website. Twitter (follow us @SNRNwebsite) remains my social media tool of choice, but I’ve also been enjoying Facebook and the recently launched for folk with a Scottish connection.

Last week I took the train down to Glasgow for the second Be Good Be Social event. Be Good Be Social brings together third sector professionals interested in social media for social good.  The events are a chance to learn, debate and connect with others working for non-profits, charities and social enterprises. The evening event at the Big Lottery Headquarters at Atlantic Quay was a great opportunity to meet other people in the third sector using social media to fundraise, to engage with their client groups, to raise awareness of their work and a whole lot more.

There were excellent presentations by Sara Thomas of MND Scotland, Rob McAllen of Cumbernauld House Trust, Marc Bowker from Quarriers and Rob Dyson from Whizz-Kidz and the Guardian. After three hours of chatting, presentations and workshops I came away from Be Good Be Social with even more enthusiasm for social media and its potential, plus many practical hints and tips that I can now use in my own work. The fact that the events are in the evening and deliberately informal really appeals to me. Networking and knowledge sharing turns into chat over cakes and proceedings even ended with a raffle!

Here are some of the top tips I took away:

  • Don’t do social media just for the sake of it
  • You don’t need a social media strategy, but you do need a fundraising strategy and a communications strategy
  • Be authentic, be honest, be first person, be informal but still professional
  • Don’t be defensive – no-one likes an argument!
  • Photos and video are an excellent way of bringing people into Facebook
  • Conversation is key rather than broadcasting
  • Always try to engage people – ask a lot of questions and encourage conversations
  • On you can find who’s mentioned your organisation on the web
  • Annotate objects and people in flickr and add URL links
  • Reference outside media
  • Tell your stories everywhere – cross promote all of your sites
  • Good will spreads – recognise the smallest community fundraiser up to the biggest
  • Staff and your organisation’s users are storytellers too

The event was streamed online and you can now get photos, video and presentations on the Be Good Be Social website. The next event will be held in October 2011.


October 28, 2010

Easyfundraising really is easy

Filed under: Uncategorized — noretteferns @ 2:12 pm
Christmas present

The perfect gift?

There are only 57 days until Christmas. The more organised among you will already have started squirreling away presents in cupboards. Some of you will be running around shops on Christmas Eve in a desperate attempt to find suitable gifts. I like to think I’m somewhere between these two on the Christmas shopping scale. I’ve just started having a think about what to buy my family and in the next few weeks I’ll probably start my shopping – with most of it happening online.

Now, while you’re shopping online for the Doctor Who annual and faux fur trimmed slippers, wouldn’t you like to be raising a little money for a good cause at no extra cost to you? Well you can at And as the name suggests it is almost too easy to be true to raise funds for a national charity or a small local group.

All you have to do is log onto Easyfundraising and then search for the retailer you’re looking for, or browse by category of retailer. You then click on the link which takes you to the retailer’s normal site. By taking these few easy steps the retailer will then donate a one-off payment or percentage of your spend with them to a good cause of your choice. There is no difference to the price you pay with the retailer.

Lots of the big names are there including Marks and Spencers and Amazon (other retailers are available). Last Christmas I raised about £20 for Highland Alternative Music, a youth music project my other half’s involved in in Dingwall. Now that might not seem like a lot of money but if 10 or 100 people use Easyfundraising when buying stuff online the figures soon start to rack up, especially if you’re buying larger items. (I’m going to be buying an oven soon and it will raise about £15!) 

If you’re involved in a group or organisation you should add yourself to the list of good causes so your friends and families can support your group through Easyfundraising. You just have to fill in an online form to Register your cause. It’s a great opportunity to raise some funds that could go towards buying new equipment for a sports group or new toys for a playgroup, for example.

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan. I’m trying to get everyone I know to register on Easyfundraising as it’s such a quick, easy way to raise a bit of extra cash for groups and charities.

So, this Christmas why not shop online and raise funds for a local group? That part’s easy. The hard part is deciding what to buy!

August 30, 2010

Capture the Seasons of Rural Scotland

Filed under: Uncategorized — noretteferns @ 10:17 am

Capturing the Seasons of Rural Scotland on camera!

The new photo competition from the Scotland National Rural Network website challenges you to capture the Seasons of Rural Scotland on camera! The competition will run until 31st August 2011, with staggered closing dates for each of the four seasons.

Previous photo competitions were very popular indeed and the standard of entries was extremely impressive. We’re looking for the same high standard with our Seasons of Rural Scotland competition, and we’re confident you’re going to exceed our expectations!

With the four seasons as your themes you’ll be able to submit photos with a wide range of subjects including landscapes, wildlife, people and events. You can submit in advance for each theme, and judging will be quarterly. So, although Autumn is our first season deadline, you might want to submit your Summer photos in advance!

We’ll be publishing sesonal galleries with the entries, so the competition is going to build up a pictorial story of a year in rural Scotland.

Choosing winners and runners up for each of the seasons is going to be tough, and we’ll need your help to do it. We’ll be shortlisting five photos and asking you to vote in an online poll for your favourite. And at the end of the competition, you’ll be asked to vote for your overall favourite.

We’re also calling all young photographers to get involved. If you’re under 18 you can enter under any of the seasons until 31st August 2011. The team here will then have the difficult task of choosing a winner in two categories – up to 12 years old and 13 to 18.

You can get more information, and find out how to enter, on the Photo Competition section of the Scotland National Rural Network website.

August 26, 2010

Coming soon – EU Rural Cooperation Fair

Filed under: Rural Network, Rural Priorities, Scottish rural — noretteferns @ 1:38 pm

Pete Ritchie presenting at the Borders regional event

During the 20 regional events from the Scottish National Rural Network which took place from November 2009 to May 2010 there were many truly inspiring presentations. One of them, and I’m sure anyone who attended the event would agree, was from Pete Ritchie at Whitmuir Organics who gave a presentation at the Scottish Borders event.

Whitmuir is a small family farm with a food hall and farm shop, a licenced restaurant, an art gallery and a home delivery service. They raise cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys and grow vegetables, salads and soft fruit. Their produce is organic and all their meat is butchered on the farm. Whitmuir the Organic Place has the slogan/strapline Food with Attitude not Additives. Pete talked enthusiastically about their work and aims. It was one of those presentations which makes you want to go and see the project/enterprise in action. (You can hear Pete speak about Whitmuir Organics in the short video from the Scottish Borders event.)

Well now I can, and you can too, as Whitmuir Organics will host the project visit of the EU Rural Cooperation Fair taking place in Edinburgh next month. The free event is on 23rd and 24th September at Murrayfield Stadium. As well as the project visit, the event will feature keynote speakers, including Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead, six themed workshops run by people from across Europe, a market place and a conference dinner and ceilidh.

The event will be  a fantastic opportunity to meet people from across Europe’s rural communities and to find out what’s worked well where they are. There will also be a chance to explore opportunities for cooperation projects with other parts of Europe.

If you don’t want to miss out on a place at this event then email for an invitation. I look forward to meeting you there!

You can find out more about the event in Register now for EU Rural Cooperation Fair.

August 17, 2010

World Heritage Status – what do you do with it once you’ve got it?

Filed under: Rural Network — noretteferns @ 3:33 pm
Access to the Antonine Wall event

Access to the Antonine Wall event

Every once in a while you hear about  a campaign for a site to get World Heritage status, for example Loch Ness had a bid in a couple of years ago (I’m not sure if it’s still going).

But what do you do with World Heritage Status once you’ve got it? Having the status is bound to bring more visitors to an area, and is a recognition of a man made or natural site that is important to the heritage of the entire world. But how do you make the most of the benefits such status can bring?


Wanted: stronger and longer-lasting rural policy

Filed under: Rural Direct, Rural Network, Rural policy, Scottish rural, SCVO, SRDP — Norman MacAskill @ 10:07 am

Three and a half years ago, the Labour-LibDem Scottish Executive published its second major rural policy document, the weirdly titled Better Still, Naturally. It was a chunky and colourful 90 pages, with a lot of sensible analysis and content. It even had the good grace to devote significant space to the Third Sector’s important role in delivering services, building community capacity and social capital, and advocating on behalf of rural communities. take a look at Speak Up for Rural Scotland and consider what you can contribute to building a stronger and longer-lasting statement of policy for Scotland’s rural communities.

Two months after it came out, the 2007 Scottish elections delivered a new government and the document and all the work that went into it appeared to just fall into the gap between administrations.

That’s not to say that the new SNP administration didn’t take rural issues seriously – given their electoral heartland it would be amazing if they hadn’t. From SCVO’s point of view, their commitment showed itself in several ways, including the funding of the Rural Direct service to support communities trying to get rural development funding for services and facilities (a funding stream that had stalled for years under the previous administration), support for our Village Halls Summit and a major piece of research on community buildings. (more…)

August 11, 2010

Videos galore from the Rural Network

Filming at the Rural Aberdeenshire event

On location at Rural Aberdeenshire event

From November 2009 until May 2010 I travelled the length and breadth of the country with my colleague Beverley Maclean, Scottish National Rural Network (SNRN) regional coordinator, and other members of the SCVO Rural Team, delivering a series of 20 regional events.  Sometimes the going was tough – there was snow, ice and even volcanic ash to contend with! But from Shetland to the Borders we met over 1000 people involved in their rural communities and heard about some truly inspiring projects and enterprises.

I’m delighted to say that we have now uploaded videos from all 20 events to our YouTube channel and you can also watch them on the Video section of the SNRN website. It’s a great chance to get the highlights from the events, hear from the people that attended and see folk talk enthusiastically about the things that are working well in their communities. And of course it’s a chance to spot yourself and people you know! You can find out more in Rural Network regional events videos now online.

You can also get event reports, photos and presentations from all the events in the Rural Network Regional Events Archive.

Matt Tyrer is busy planning the second year of regional events at the moment (Beverley is currently on maternity leave). If you were at one of the 20 events earlier in the year, we’d really appreciate it if you could take five minutes to fill in our short online survey. The results will feed into the planning for the next round of events. You can contact Matt at or 01463 251 727.

August 3, 2010

Speaking up for rural Scotland

Filed under: Rural Network, Scottish rural, Uncategorized — noretteferns @ 3:07 pm

Speak up for Rural Scotland

A new major new Scottish Government consultation on the future of rural Scotland has been launched – and you can take part on the Scotland National Rural Network website. The ‘Speak Up for Rural Scotland’ consultation was launched this week by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.

Last year, Mr Lochhead asked the Rural Development Council to provide him with specific advice on how best rural Scotland could contribute to the creation of a more successful country through sustainable economic growth, and how to face up to the challenges of the 21st century. The Speak Up for Rural Scotland consultation document outlines their views and proposals, including 37 ‘Step Changes’ on a range of themes including Renewable Energy and Working Together.

As well as being able to respond in the usual ways – direct to the Scottish Government – you can also get involved by adding your comments to the Speak Up for Rural Scotland consultation on the Rural Network website.

This is the first online consultation we’ve run and we’re encouraging as many people as possible to take part. There are proposals on a wide range of rural issues – from local food to afforable housing – so there is something of interest to everyone living and working in Scotland’s rural communities. Getting involved on the Rural Network website is a great way to make your voice heard. It’s easy to do, you don’t have to answer set questions and you can say as little or as much as you like. So if you’ve never responded to a government consultation before, why not make Speaking Up for Rural Scotland your first?

You can get more information in Speaking Up for Rural Scotland, and you can add your comments to the Speak Up for Rural Scotland consultation.

July 20, 2010

Parcel surcharges nearly ruined my soup

Asian soup

Some delicious soup

For Christmas last year my brothers bought me the new Rick Stein book Far Eastern Odyssey. It’s a great book full of recipes from Mr Stein’s travels in the East. I cast my eye over mouthwatering recipes for Thai chicken soup and Massaman curry and I couldn’t wait to get cooking.  I needed shrimp paste and I needed it fast.

The Ross-shire town of Dingwall boasts award winning butchers, a fruit shop and bakeries, but as yet no international food store. So, I had to do my exotic ingredient shopping online. I spent about three quarters of an hour looking up ingredients on one of the websites recommended in the book, adding spices and dried food suffs to my basket. I could almost taste my spicy soup.


March 2, 2010

The little idea that snowballed

Filed under: Rural Network, Scottish rural, Uncategorized — noretteferns @ 2:27 pm
Woman in winter clothing holding snowball

A little idea that snowballed!

This blog was almost called ‘Always take the weather with you’. That’s what seems to be happening when Beverley Maclean and I hit the road for the Scottish National Rural Network regional events. It snowed in Moray. It snowed in East Renfrewshire. And it snowed in West Lothian. Then the Rural Tayside event was postponed because of the weather.

But there’s been enough talk about the weather. Instead, this blog is about one of the themes that has been coming out during the regional events so far – the little idea that snowballed. During presentations, discussions and informal chats over coffee and lunch, I’ve heard lots of stories about projects, initiatives and businesses that started small and grew.


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