21-07-11 Jobs In Carradale Time To Get Real
Eric Dudley and Catharine Forbes.

Jobs in Carradale – time to get real?

There are plenty of things which Carradale is not: it is not a compact, picturesque little settlement that day-trippers flock to see; it is not a natural harbour; it does not have a “front” for trendy shops and eating places; it does not have historic buildings and artefacts; it is not a centre for mountaineering, energetic hill walking or surfing; it does not have a lively night-life.

On the other hand, there are plenty of things going on in Carradale: golf, cricket, bowling, camera club, women’s guild, amateur dramatics – plenty of pastimes for the inhabitants, or at least the older inhabitants. But what these activities do not do is create jobs. If Carradale is to have any kind of future it needs jobs.

In the past, as we all know, Carradale lived on fishing, forestry and summer visitors. All three have declined dramatically with little prospect of return. With effort there may well be some scope for increasing tourism but the cold reality is that tourism alone will never be enough. The season is short and it coincides with the midges. The competition is stiff and visitor expectations higher than ever before. Nostalgia is not a viable strategy. We need to reinvent ourselves.

In attempting to get real we need to ask what is the essence of Carradale? Once it would have been described as a fishing village with summer visitors. No more. The defining characteristic of the village is that the population is increasingly old. Our natural instinct is to shy away from this inescapable fact as a depressing problem – but could it not also point to a solution? If Carradale is elderly then surely our challenge is to determine how we can make it the best elderly village in Scotland and, above all, generate sustainable year round jobs for the young in the process.

Until now Carradale people generally cared for their own. Thankfully many of those carers are still with us but they are growing older and the generation that would have cared for them is increasingly scattered. Neither natives of Carradale nor incomers who have retired here should be forced out of the village because they cannot be cared for in it.

We are repeatedly told that the costs of the NHS and the Social Services are disproportionately spent on the needs of the elderly. Not wishing to sound mercenary, but if there is money spent on the elderly then there is money in the elderly. We oldies are golden oldies. Rather than the NHS and Argyll and Bute spending money on Carradale how can we encourage them to spend money in Carradale? If an elderly person needs a bathroom modification, why does a builder or a plumber need to come out from Campbeltown or Lochgilphead? Why shouldn’t that kind of work be done by people in the village. If an elderly person needs help taking a bath, why does a carer need to drive out from Campbeltown? Cannot all our caring needs be met from here?

If we could demonstrate that one pound spent in the village could save two pounds spent in a care home, or ten pounds in a hospital, then the people holding the purse strings ought to be falling over themselves to give us money. This should mean that there are opportunities for creating and paying for imaginative new services to support independent living. If there is a problem getting groceries due to the lack of home delivery from supermarkets then perhaps there is an opportunity for a delivery service organized from here, preferably one which builds on and amplifies the role of our village shops. It would be a tragedy if Carradale were to lose the good neighbourliness which is its greatest strength. But neighbours themselves grow old and need support. Could we set up village schemes to enable people to remain safely and comfortably in their own homes? We need ideas, technological and organizational, to build into a coherent package exciting enough to attract the politicians and budget holders. Above all we need ideas from the senior citizens of Carradale.

We know that the social and health care services are in the process of being restructured and reduced. If we do not act to ensure that our taxes are spent on the kind of care we want, we will have to put up with whatever “they” give us. Not only do we need to take control, we are being urged to do so. From April of this year a system of “Self-directed support” is in place “designed to meet your care needs in creative and flexible ways.” (Information from Council and Care: 23) This government mission statement could become reality but only if we ourselves choose to become self-directed.

In the press we often hear calls for the NHS and Social Services to work together more closely. In a remote rural context such as ours does it not make sense for the village as a body to act as a third party in the discussion? If the village can deliver services for less then why shouldn’t it? Could Carradale become a pilot for developing a village-based model for cost-effective and dignified elderly care in the remote rural areas of Scotland. There is no doubt that such a model is needed. It is in our interest to get in on the ground floor.

One of the most successful community initiatives in Carradale in recent years was that which resulted in the Abbeyfield home. In retrospect, could this be just phase one of a larger process of making the village fit for purpose in the 21st century, a century characterized by an aging population?

Making the village grey-friendly would encourage grey tourists - and their young relatives. Carradale may not be a centre for mountaineers but it has excellent credentials as a place for people who want gentle walks and spectacular views. This is one of our natural strengths and we should build upon it.

Trying to make Carradale a good place to be old does not mean making it a bad place to be young. If meeting the needs of the elderly can generate jobs then that means more children, more security for the school, and more prosperity.

Eric Dudley and Catharine Forbes

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