THE work of a small community social enterprise in the Western Isles will be “revolutionised” after winning funding to install superfast broadband.

Cothrom, which employs 20 people, has been awarded a BT grant that will cover 75 per cent of the cost after signing a community fibre partnership with Openreach. The organisation, based at Ormiclate on South Uist, will pay the remainder of the £12,900 bill from its own funds.

The main focus of its work is training adult learners but the group, whose name is the Gaelic word for opportunity, also includes a full-time Gaelic language nursery and a furniture restoration and upcycling enterprise.

Manager Kirsty MacCormick said: “Fast, reliable broadband will make a big difference to our work. It will revolutionise what we do. We have 20 staff now and superfast broadband will make a huge difference to their day-to-day work.

“The fast technology will open up a huge range of new learning opportunities to the organisation and facilitate our transition to e-learning and distance learning. We’ll also be able to introduce new e-learning programmes and our staff will be able to access all kinds of online support.”

Over a year Cothrom is involved in teaching around 180 adult learners while the Gaelic nursery looks after 23 children.

MacCormick added: “It wasn’t always the case that we would be able to secure a community fibre partnership, so when we go live with superfast broadband in October we’ll have reached a big milestone for Cothrom.”

Openreach partnership director for Scotland Robert Thorburn said: “Partnerships like this help us to bring high-speed connections to those areas that, for many reasons, broadband providers struggle to upgrade alone.

“We’re committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible. That’s why we’re investing in hundreds of similar community projects across the UK, working in partnership with businesses, schools and residential communities to deliver faster speeds from a wide choice of competing service providers.”