A taste of success in Melness and Tongue

UpNorth! Community Chest share their success with PB Scotland

Tongue Hall was packed on Saturday March 11th as over 100 people squeezed into Tongue Hall to hear the presentations from applicants to the UpNorth! Community Chest and vote for their favourites.

It was a day of celebration as the community heard about the wonderful work being undertaken by volunteers across the Tongue Community Council area – and then got the chance to give them a lift with awards of up to £2000 being given to the best projects

How it worked

Voters were given a summary of the project applicants in their registration packs and then each project gave a 2 minute presentation highlighting the merits of their applications.

The presentations where varied – including a solitary monologue from brave primary school pupil to an imaginative retelling of the Goldilocks fairy tale from a group wishing to improve Tongue Playpark.  The presenters from Melness Hall claimed they’d spent the morning collecting ‘mess’ from around Melness Community Centre and then generously distributed the fruits of their poop collection to the audience (fortunately it turned out to be just chocolate raisins).

After the presentations people voted and were then treated to a very well received lunch of soup and sandwiches prepared by a small army of volunteers.

Soon after lunch the exacting work of the team of volunteers who’d selflessly worked through lunch to count the votes was done – and the results were announced


The whole day was a joyous celebration – extremely well organised and run.  It was a day of sharing hopes and aspirations and, for once, actually coming away with the resources to make those aspirations happen.

And after the vote:

  • Children will have a better and safer playpark in Tongue

  • Tongue Primary children can look forward to exciting new sports activities and inspiring STEM activities – and a trip to France!

  • The Melness-based environmental charity Yggdrassil will be able to lay on exciting outdoor adventure activities with their new tepee.

  • Local walking group Step it Up will organise more adventurous walks and then after an invigorating day in the hills can join the community at the soon to be established Film Club.

  • New picnic areas will be established at the Kyle Centre and Melness Community Hall (in the latter case funding for fencing will keep the area free from the unwanted attention of grazing beasts).

  • Skerray Hall will benefit from a much needed refurbishment of its toilet facilities and St Andrews Church in Tongue will get its kitchen facilities renovated.

  • And everyone will be safer as the result of the purchase of defibrillators across the community.

 ….and much much more

And everyone got home in time to watch the rugby – although most probably wish they hadn’t.

Further details and learning

UpNorth! (Melness and Tongue Community Development Trust) successfully applied to the Scottish Government Community Choices Fund for £20,000 to distribute throughout the Tongue Community Council area via the UpNorth! Community Chest.

UpNorth! Community Chest was coordinated by a steering group of local volunteers and delivered by UpNorth!

The maximum award was £2000.  Up to the first £15000 was awarded at 100% of application value.  Thereafter awards were made at 50% of value until the fund was exhausted.  A total of 19 awards were made. Anyone and anything was entitled to apply for anything they liked – provided they were based in Tongue Community Council area and residents of the Community Council area where the main beneficiaries.

UpNorth! hopes to secure funding to run similar events in the future, even, perhaps, using the proceeds from investments in local renewable energy projects .

The voting process

Voters were aged from Primary age P6 upwards, and resident of Tongue Community Council area.  (One child outwith the Council area but who attended the school was also allowed to vote, although her parents weren’t). 

Voters ranked their top 10 projects in ‘modified Borda Count’voting system loosely based on the system used for Parliamentary Elections on the Pacific Island of Vanuatu.

Votes were counted on the day – volunteers transcribed ballot papers onto ‘summary sheets’ – these sheets were then transferred to a spreadsheet which calculated the winners – these were announced on the day as provisional.  The following day, in the relative peace and calm of Development Officer Simon Lee’s front room, the votes were verified.  (The spreadsheet was designed to be able to highlight some errors easily.)  The final result was announced on Facebook later that day, including details of the final score for each project.  The result had changed slightly from those announced on the day.  No one minded, in fact one provisional award winner who had been awarded the scrag end of the Community Chest pot (£78 for an application of £1500) and who was subsequently awarded nothing reported being ‘relieved’.

The voting system was easy for voters but perhaps complicated to count.  But it was felt to be important that voters were forced to vote for multiple projects to give projects with minority following a chance of some of the spoils.  In that respect the system seemed to work.  Everyone seemed happy.


  • Over 60% of participants completed the feedback form. 100% agreed with the statement "I understood what the day was about and the role I had to play"

  • 91% agreed with "I found out about things going on in my community that I didn't know about before"

  • 97% agreed with "I think the event today was well run"

  • 94% agreed "I found the event today enjoyable"

Other responses included: