UPDATE: TENANTS FORUM 27 JANUARY 2021
29 January 2021
We held our monthly Tenants’ Forum on Zoom on 27 January. Thanks to all those who attended.
MONTHLY UPDATE: Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust welcomed tenants and partners to the meeting and welcomed Craig Renton, as the new Chief Operating Officer to the meeting for the first time. Main points of update:
- A place to breathe: The Crichton continues to be a popular location for walkers during lockdown. Some tenants are still delivering essential services from their base at The Crichton.
- Covid-19 Response: Although fewer tenants are working on site just now, Gwilym reminded tenants of their commitment to the collaborative response to Covid-19 which was agreed in Spring 2020, which is particularly important in buildings with multiple tenants. Gwilym also highlighted the growing impact on the pandemic on mental health and the importance of doing whatever we can to minimise the impact.
- 18-month Transition Plan: The Crichton Trust has the same pre-Covid vision for The Crichton, but an 18-month transition plan is currently being produced to take into account the challenges resulting from Covid-19.
- Climate Emergency: While this is a key focus of many organisations, D&G has set an ambitious target of being Net Zero by 2025 and this will impact on every business and home. As a Trust our current aim is to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. We are considering how we can bring that date forward by five years to align with our regions ambition, which is a considerable challenge due to our current dependence on gas.
- Care Campus: There has been some recent media interest in the Ladyfield site, which although belongs to D&G Council now, there are local development plans in place to ensure any future use dovetails with plans for The Crichton. Findings from our recent Care Campus project (funded by Leader) and earlier research carried out on the Ladyfield site will be used to inform the future of the site and our ambitions to develop a 21C Village for intergenerational living. A report will be published soon.
- Scotland’s 5G Innovation Hub: The Scottish Government recently announced plans for ten 5G Innovation Hubs in Scotland and The Crichton has been identified as a potential location for the South of Scotland Hub. This will enable us to provide high quality 5G at The Crichton and into Dumfries and is likely to attract new businesses and visitors and presents exciting possibilities for the future.
- Venues: Easterbrook Hall remains closed and although there are events booked in for the Summer months they are slowly being rescheduled due the ongoing uncertainty re events and gatherings. We are eagerly awaiting guidance on summer festivals too. Easterbrook Bistro is operating a takeaway service at the moment (daily 11am-2pm). The restaurant remains closed due to current restrictions.
- Crichton Central: The work on Crichton Central is nearing completion and plans for a phased opening of the new co-working space when restrictions ease, is most likely to be delayed until Spring. (Gwilym included a photo presentation)
- UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Crichton Trust is also aligning and assessing how it can positively support the targets that underpin a global achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This is quite a transformational moment for The Crichton. It is a challenging time for everyone, but The Crichton is a good place to be at this time! We are committed to working with tenants (as investing partners) to build forward from this pandemic and in caring for the wellbeing of our people, place, partners and planet.
The impact of Covid-19 on Tenancy Contracts at The Crichton: Following a question on the matter, Gordon Clark confirmed that The Crichton Trust has both lost and gained new tenants as a direct result of Covid-19 and have provided flexible payment plans to support tenants too. This was an inevitable outcome, although Gwilym added that we may yet see further changes to tenancy agreements depending on how/if people transition back to offices, continue working from home or utilising co-working spaces. If required and pending the demand for flexible working spaces, The Crichton Trust is well placed to develop and utilise spaces that are yet to be developed, or become vacant, to meet the future needs of The Crichton Community. SRUC have plans to reduce their presence on site as part of a wider strategic change.
Holiday Inn Update: Jamie Milligan reported that the hotel remains open (to residents only) during this current lockdown to provide accommodation to keyworkers including doctors, nurses and dentists. Demand for Spring remains uncertain due to current restrictions.
ZOOM IN ON OUR TENANTS/PARTNERS: We welcomed Diane Cooper, Partnerships Manager and Derek Goldman, Knowledge Exchange Manager from the Open University in Scotland to the meeting today. Diane delivered an update on the OU response to Covid-19 and their ongoing contribution to the upskilling of individuals in Scotland.
The Open University in Scotland Update:
- About the OU: The OUiS has around 18,000 full and part-time students in Scotland with around a quarter of students living in remote, rural areas. Many students also work, but for those earning less than £25k, they can study for free using the Part-time Fee Grant.
- Partnerships: Partnership working is key to the success of the OU’s response to Covid-19. Many partnership projects have been rolled out during the pandemic to improve people’s career opportunities and support the economy recovery in Scotland.
- Redundancy Support: The OU has supported furloughed employees and those made redundant via the OpenLearn site on the SDS My World of Work free learning portal and by working with PACE and unions to provide tailored skills packages for organisations and their employees and families.
- Employability: The OU is also working with SCVO and all 32 local authorities to develop a new Employability Portal which is due to launch in February 2021 (available to people of all ages). Other partnership projects include the Open Doors for Success programme (workcoaches) with DWP and a successful partnership with Start Scotland providers to support their organisation to transition online.
- Funded Upskilling Opportunities:
- Thanks to support from the SFC Upskilling Fund, the OU can currently offer 6 free micro-credentials (short accredited courses in 10-12 weeks) covering everything from business management to cyber security and teaching online.
- The OU is delivering a training programme involving upskilling 100 unemployed and low paid people in coding skills
- Anyone earning less than £25k can benefit from free study opportunities by applying for a Part-time Fee Grant.
- The OU has recently received £1m from the Flexible Workforce Development Fund to deliver SCQF level 10 courses to SMEs in Scotland. This fund will launch early February and includes grants of up to £5000 for SMEs to support learning in areas such as Business, IT, Digital and Health and Social Care.
Gwilym thanked Diane and Derek for their update and attendance at the meeting.
Anyone interested in more information or want to discuss any of the above contact Diane via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about all tenants on The Crichton Directory – www.crichton.co.uk
REMINDER TO ALL TENANTS:
If you are a tenant at The Crichton, please remember to keep your profile updated on The Crichton Directory too. Just send us an email and we will update it for you: email@example.com
Please encourage your colleagues to sign up to The Crichton Trust Newsletter which is accessible in the footer of our website and to browse The Crichton Magazine.
If you would like us to zoom in on your business at future meetings, please get in touch!
The next Tenants’ Forum will be on Wednesday 24 February at 11am. Professor Carol Hill will be providing an update about the University of Glasgow. As usual, tenants will receive an email invitation from The Crichton Trust with ID details. Any queries please contact the office on 01387 247544.