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Climate Change day with Neuro Hebrides

What an amazing day Neuro Hebrides had. Climate change is a subject which provides a range of reactions in all of us. Fear, worry, anxiety, disbelief are just a few descriptions, and it is a difficult subject to discuss without sounding negative or that you are pointing the finger of blame. It's something that is and will continue to affect every single one of us, So we wanted to have a day to raise awareness that was informative and enjoyable.

On Friday 16th February, thanks to the Climate Hebrides Ideas in to action fund, Neuro Hebrides organised A climate change day in Lewis, and another in North Uist.

After a long and stormy January, the sun was shining for us. In Lewis, first stop was to Shawbost beach on the Westside. It's a beautiful beach, with a bar of land between a loch and the beach. It's a popular spot not only for people to enjoy, but for wildlife too. There's a fantastic diversity of bird species, including the elusive and incredibly rare Corncrake through the Summer months.

At the moment there is a car parking area at either end of the beach with an access road to each. As the affects of climate change advance, it is predicted that sea level rise will result in one of the access roads and parking areas being submerged by the sea, and the bar of land separating the sea from the loch, will also be submerged. This could also result in some of the breeding ground of the Corncrake being lost.

We then visited Bragar shore. There is a cemetery on edge of the cliffs at Bragar, and there has recently been some engineering work carried out to stabilise the edge of the cliffs due to the erosion caused by sea level rise and increased storm events.

At Bragar we met with a local gentleman, Donald Morrison, who has lived in Bragar all his life and told the group how he has seen the climate affect the coast in his 80 years. Where there was once space to walk at the edge of crofts by the sea, had now washed away. And there was stepping stones across the water near the beach where during funerals, the cortege could walk from one end of the village across the beach to the cemetery, but the stepping stones are now submerged.

We then went to Grinnebhat in Bragar, a fantastic community building with accommodation, a cafe, exhibition and a fantastic community room.

We spoke about how Climate change will impact our every day lives, including travel, healthcare, access to supplies of food, medicine etc, damage to infrastructure, damage to property and more.

Ben from Peatland Action discussed climate change and the affects on the vast areas of peatland across the Hebrides, and Christopher from Climate Hebrides who spoke about 'Our Climate Stories', which gives islanders the chance to pin on the map photos, stories, short films about concerns and ideas for action on climate change in the Outer Hebrides. You can input things you notice in your area, such as an area that gets flooded, or if you're worried about rising sea or water levels, If your family croft changing in size or layout due to water rising or coastal erosion, or you're worried about road access or areas cut off. You can take a picture of the spot or highlight where and pin it on the map.

Contributing your knowledge, concerns and ideas helps give an evidence base of climate impacts and priorities for adaptation which can help inform planning and action against the affects of climate change.

Wonderful artist and friend of Neuro Hebrides, Jane Harlington then lead a fantastic workshop for us all to get creative and make pictures about our feelings and stories about Climate change. What a wonderful way to express feelings about a subject which often feels quite dark and dispiriting.

It was a wonderful, thought provoking day. Neuro Hebrides will be continuing to be involved with Climate Hebrides and help to raise awareness on an issue that will be part of all of our lives.

If you are interested in this subject and would like to be involved, please get in touch

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