A PROJECT which has been operating in Assynt, with the aim of helping older people in remote and rural areas, has won a major European award.
The Older People for Older People (040) initiative scooped the RegioStars 2012 Award at the Regions for Economic Change Conference, held in Brussels last Thursday, 14th June.
The award is given to "original and innovative" projects which could inspire other European regions.
040 is funded by the Northern Periphery Programme and led by the Centre for Rural Health, a research unit involving the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and the University of Aberdeen.
It investigated ways to enable older people to continue living in their homes and make a contribution to community life.
The project operated not just in Sutherland but also in other rural areas.
The group was instrumental in helping the Assynt community form a community interest company, Community Care Assynt, to take over the running of a care centre for the elderly in Lochinver.
The centre had been threatened with closure as a result of Highland Council budget cuts.
Project coordinator Kate Stephen was in Brussels to accept the award.
She said afterwards: "The project has demonstrated that older people themselves are central to developing solutions to the challenges they face.
"I have been inspired by, and am very proud of their achievements, which have improved the lives of many people in villages and rural areas in Europe’s Northern Periphery."