The Naver TeleCentre is a community owned building in Bettyhill offering a number of public services.
The centre was established in 1992 by the local community council, following proposals from residents of the local area. The model was based on the principle of "tele-cottages" which were set up throughout Europe and the UK in remote rural areas throughout the 1980s. The Highlands and Islands Development Board set up a pilot scheme to support these across the remotest regions where they were described as "remote offices offering desk facilities, fax, photocopying, and space for local residents to learn about or make us of technology. They also encouraged employers to contract work to these centres via electronic means with the aim of reducing social isolation of home based teleworkers, as well as promoting job opportunities in remote areas where they were formerly very limited.
When set up the principal activities of the company were identified as "the relief of poverty through the advancement of education and promotion of employment and economic activity for the benefit of the community through the provision of a community teleservice centre that provides the necessary accommodation for these activities to take place."
The TeleCentre (a registered charity from the outset) was structurally designed, furnished and equipped through grants and funding from various charitable sources. It is run by a board of trustees made up of local volunteers with an interest in community activities. The aim was that it be a self-sustainable community enterprise and it has remained so to date.
The Naver TeleCentre offers a variety of services for the benefit of locals and toursists:
- Free public access to up to date computers, scanners and WiFi.
- Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations.
- Adobe Premiere Elements – for video editing.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements – for photo editing.
- Skype - For communication.
- Office space for organisations of public and community benefit, including a council service point, library services, and police.
- Access to training, meeting, and storage space for community groups and other organisations subject to their individual requirements.
How is it run?
The TeleCentre is a registered charity and is primarily self funding through income from the rental of office space. Additional funding is acquired by means of sustainability grants. Although services to the public are provided free of charge the TeleCentre does have a donation box and relies on public support to survive.
It employs one part-time administrator (seven hours per week) to oversee the general upkeep of the building and the services provided. It also employs one part time cleaner to maintain appearance and hygiene to public standards.
Responsibility for the management of the TeleCentre lies with a board of trustees who meet regularly to oversee operational activities.
Who does it benefit?
- the residents of the local community
- tourists and visiting families of local residents
- residents and visitors of surrounding local communities
- local voluntary groups
- local businesses
- local self employed people
- local schools
- the Highland Council
- Highlife Highland Library Service
- the local Community Council
- Police Scotland
Aim for the Future?
- To continue to provide the local area with free access to technology, resources, and communications
- To support local businesses and community groups through the provision of affordable office space
- To provide employment opportunities for local people/businesses
- To act as a central community meeting point and a means of sharing community information
The Naver TeleCentre was upgraded in late 2016 with new computers, peripherals, and software, with network infrastructure installed in all offices. The work was undertaken by local company Parallel 58 Ltd, who provide ongoing technical support. The upgrade was funded by SSE and the Highland Council.