Kevin Morrison

Over 30 years ago, Cothrom was an idea which was revolutionary for Uist.

This was an organisation set up by local women to support other local women with training opportunities, business opportunities, ideas of getting back to work and most importantly, child care – a game changer for the women of the time. While the ladies came together to socialise, learn new skills and plan their next moves in life, their young children played together at Cothrom. Fast forward to 2023 and Cothrom has transformed the lives of many islanders. It’s grown from this into a multifaceted entity. Cothrom, as the name suggests, provides opportunity. These opportunities can easily be broken into 4 parts; The Gaelic Immersive nursery, the adult learning centre, a support service and an upcycling retail unit and shop as we know as ReStore.

The Current CEO, Kevin Morrison has stepped into the Uist Beò hot seat to let us know what’s going on for our community at Ormiclate road-end. Kevin has been CEO of Cothrom for just over a year, and he and the organisation are kept busy, catering for all ages.

‘I think the reason Cothrom works so well is because we’re integrated into the community and there are so many different parts to it. We’ve got a lot of community engagement projects, learning opportunities and we try to support families with whatever their needs may be, as they need them.

We work closely with a number of different organisations locally and we use our resources as best we can to support anything else that might be going on in the community.’

With these resources, our younger island generation can enjoy their day at the Cothrom nursery, the only nursery which is privately run with Gàidhlig immersion for children as young as nine months old. Once you’re a bit older, there are also training opportunities and modern apprenticeships to get involved with.

‘We’ve got really good links with Tagsa, HIE, Ceòlas and others. We have the means to deliver Modern Apprenticeship Training for around 16 individuals each year, this includes training for other organisations around the island, and three others on site in Ormiclate.

In the past we’ve focused on business, admin, horticulture and the care sector. We’re now adding to that with food and drink and hospitality management support. There’s a number of different training options and if more organisations or businesses are looking to access Modern Apprenticeships, we can support them on the training side. We have the space to allow people to practically learn, as sometimes folk come because they haven’t had the best experience of education at school level. 

Cothrom exists to support those with the desire to work towards any goal and is open to all. If any businesses out there are looking to take on modern apprenticeships, then Kevins office door is wide open, and willing to take on any new ideas.


‘We are working with local employers to try and figure out what the pathway gaps are on the island. We’re partnering up with the likes of Ceòlas, UHI, HIE, MOWI and local construction companies to find out where the gaps are in provision in terms of training here for employment.

We have access to the qualifications that businesses need to hire employees’. It might be that UHI deliver the qualification, but we deliver the training and give access to online resources. We know that people want to stay on the island, and we want to help them do that. Some people want to leave and that’s fine, but others want to stay here and can’t. They’re the ones that we try to support as much as possible.’

Life isn’t always easy, but for those who are living with addictions or with mental health issues, Cothrom is there to offer a helping hand. The organisation works closely with the NHS and the Western Isles Alcohol and Drug partnership – who fund some of these initiatives – to help people. Anyone out there, who needs it can turn up, be listened to and get the advice they need. Individuals can self refer to help their recovery.

So, if somebody is living with an addiction or poor mental health which has impacted their ability to work, socialise or live well, then we can help them on their pathway to recovery.
If someone has found themselves in a position of not being able to access the workplace because of their addiction or if their mental health is causing a barrier, we work with them and try to put a plan in place. We try to support people through practical learning, supporting them to apply for jobs.

Addiction and mental health support is one of the strings of the Cothrom bow. They also have strong links with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the homeless office and other agencies. Cothrom are also there to support any individual who is struggling financially, and needs support. Kevin encourages anyone in need of help and advice to come into use the services that are available. There is a Financial Inclusion Officer at Cothrom every Tuesday afternoon available for anybody to drop in and use. Local people have benefited from this service which is there to give information on where you can get support from. They also have a system to help furnish your home.

‘We’ve set up a furniture referral form for anybody who’s having difficulty furnishing a house. It might be somebody who’s been in a crisis, who’s maybe had to leave their home quickly or been in a domestic abuse situation or whatever, people can apply to us for furniture on a simple form. 

It’s really easy. Just tick off what you need and then we charge a flat rate of £30 for delivery costs. We’re not charging for the furniture, we’re just charging for the van and the staff to take it to wherever it needs to go. 

If somebody comes to us then we can direct them to the right place to go for help. We also have a referral partner for energy funds so people can come to us if they’re struggling to keep up with their electricity costs and we can apply to see if we can them get some money. 

There’s a lot of people struggling at the moment, but I think with the culture we have here, sometimes it’s hard to show that or say that you are struggling. There’s no shame in it. We are just trying to use the resources we’ve got in terms of the links we have with the community, with all the other things we do, whether it’s the nursery or restore, we try to use that to speak to people and say, look, actually we can help with that.’ 

Let’s now talk about ReStore, the shop and upcycling centre which hails proudly at Ormiclate road end. ReStore, was set up about twenty years ago and holds a very  important part of the ethos of Cothrom. It’s a development which has come from the  adult learning initiative that started the spark for the Cothrom, as a social enterprise which compliments the adult learning which Cothrom provides.

‘The aim for Restore is to try and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and we do that by the community bringing us furniture. We upcycle, restore and reuse things and then sell it or use it as part of our homelessness support package. Restore is heavily linked to the adult learning department. We have learners from all the different programs who will learn the specifics about retail, industry, woodwork, textile work, upholstery, painting – you name it they know it.’


On your next trip South or North, make sure you call in to ReStore where you can find anything that will make your home homelier.

Cothrom are a charitable organisation who stand alone from the statutory bodies. The cost of living is affecting everybody, even for them funding can be tough.

‘The partnership work we have is brilliant here on the island, there are issues though. Funding for the staff and resources is the stumbling block that could stop Cothrom from thriving.

If these initiatives and partnerships aren’t funded and supported, at a national grant level or a local authority level, they can quickly disappear. We provide a service and we need help to do so.

We’re thriving in terms of what we’re doing, absolutely, but there’s always a worry that funding might be stripped from the third sector. It’s not just us, it’s also other community groups within the third sector. We need to be supported, financially. Community empowerment needs to come with funding resources to allow activity to happen.’

In our closing remarks, Kevin encourages anyone within the community to turn up, say hello and come and visit for any reason, you might just find the answer you need. 

‘So, we’re not saying that we have all the answers, but actually, we can be a good stepping stone to the people that you need to connect with, because you can be anonymous here, nobody’s going to question you coming for a visit. And that’s where it’s different, because I think what happens is that folk are worried about these support agencies, who do fantastic work, coming to your house and then your neighbour seeing them there.

The good thing about Cothrom is that we’re a training centre, a nursery, a shop and a recycling centre, it’s easy to be anonymous when you come here. So, what I would suggest is to just approach us, to ask us about what we do. If you have specific issues around the cost of living or employment or if you’re an employer looking for staff, contact us and you can be pointed in the right direction.

Anybody, for any reason, can get in touch with us, it’s all confidential.’

For more information, or to contact Kevin and the staff at Cothrom on 01878700910  or email them at or get in touch directly with Kevin or 700911. You can also visit their website at