These four short films illustrating the the impact of the lack of affordable homes in rural communities and demonstrating how rural housing is the key to unlocking rural economic potential, were created in partnership with Scottish Rural Action as part of the Rural Homes | Rural Lives project, and were premiered at the 2019 Rural Housing Scotland Conference.
Calum Bennet and his partner will become homeless in April when his privately rented home will be used for tourism accommodation. Calum is Head Brewer at Loomshed, a small brewery on the Isle of Harris. Lack of affordable housing for Calum will mean his employer will lose Calum’s expertise and the island will lose working age residents. “Unfortunately when the tourist season starts in April we’re going to be homeless or have to leave the island.”
Oliver Stephen is Mill Manager at BSW Timber in Fort William, employing over 200 people directly in the mill. He has identified lack of affordable housing as a major brake on business growth, with many members of staff negatively affected by what he describes as ‘housing poverty’. “There’s a lot of investment that businesses are wanting to put into the Highlands but with that investment you need the labour, and to bring people in to an area like Fort William, you need to build houses.”
Lisa Watson is a healthcare worker from Lochcarron with children who is currently homeless. She explains the impact that the lack of housing is having on her daughter and expresses frustration at the demographic challenge of the area. “I’m going to have to move. I’m going to have to take my daughter out of the school and leave the area altogether I think. Give up my job, everything, it’s the last thing I want to do but if I can’t get housing it ultimately is what’s going to happen.”
Peter MacKenzie is a mechanic in Lochcarron who became homeless after a privately rented shared home was sold by the owner. He lived in a caravan behind his workplace for nine years, eventually he bought a small plot of land and built his own home. The caravan has since been used by many of his friends who are also homeless. “I had no other choice. I couldn’t leave the garage, it was just me and my Dad. I couldn’t just up sticks and leave, and leave him.”