Investing in your community
Seallam! Hebrides People Visitor Centre is a unique project based in the Isle of Harris, Western Isles (Outer Hebrides) which celebrates the culture and heritage of the people through their genealogical record, storytelling and history. It is owned by the community – Northton Heritage Trust (NHT), a charitable community benefit society (No 8676) which is now planning an exciting future for the project as a major visitor and learning destination celebrating the rich history of this island archipelago.
Bill and Chris Lawson began work developing the records over 40 years ago and they donated their life’s work to the Trust some 20 years ago when funding was secured to build the current visitor centre. Chris is sadly no longer with us, and Bill, at 84 years of age is handing over the reins to the community (Trust) to develop and protect their legacy and to provide a much-needed visitor and learning facility in south Harris.
Northton Heritage Trust (NHT) has prepared ambitious plans to bring all the land and buildings into community ownership (it already owns the centre and car park) and to develop them to enhance exhibition space, provide student accommodation and research facilities to create more local employment and stimulate local economic development.
This will be carried out in two phases:
- Phase one which will see all the remaining land and buildings brought into ownership of the Trust.
- Phase two which will see development of these assets to provide new exhibition space, student and learning accommodation, a café and Seallam! Outdoors signposting the remarkable geography and geology of the area as part of Northton Bay a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The Trust is keen to engage both its local community (Isle of Harris) and its wider community (the rest of the world with an interest or heritage in the islands) in this exciting development and is running a community share offer to enable supporters of the project to contribute to delivery of phase one works- bringing the land and buildings into community ownership and finalising the plans for the second phase which will see the buildings extended.
The Share Offer
The Trust is aiming to raise £100,000 through the share offer to progress the first phase of the development. This will enable us to match funding secured to buy the land and buildings, update our digital offer and finalise plans for phase two building works and the enhanced exhibition and learning offer.
51% of the membership must comprise of people principally resident in the Isle of Harris with the other 49% comprising of those living anywhere else in the world.
The full share offer document, business plan and society rules are available to download.
How you can invest?
If you are resident in the Western Isles/Outer Hebrides (have voting rights there) you can buy shares at £25 per share up to a maximum of £10,000 and if you live elsewhere in the world, you can buy shares at £300 up to a maximum of £10,000 (10% of the planned share offer). Full details can be found in section 5 of the business plan and in our share offer document.
Community shares are a way of demonstrating community support for a project through investing in future development. Shares are withdrawable in the future once the development is complete and trading satisfactorily and NHT also intends to pay interest at 2% on share investments once this point is reached. The NHT Board will determine when this is.