THE COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT ACTION PLAN INTRODUCTION
In Scotland we have not been immune to the effects of the challenging economic picture that emerged across the globe in 2008. We also still face long term complex social problems that we must tackle together; inequalities in health, wealth and opportunity. The Scottish Government, acting with partners across the country, is determined to meet these challenges head on with vigour and creativity. We want to see a step change in how we address the big issues we face.
The Government has taken early action to address our economic challenges and has also launched, in partnership with COSLA, three frameworks which will be the dawn of a new social policy. These set the scene for a sustained long term effort to tackle inequality in Scotland. They cover the key areas of health, early years, and poverty all of which will be affected positively by empowered and engaged communities.
The confidence and resilience that grows when people work together in their communities is never more important than in challenging economic times and when facing major social problems.
This means that community empowerment - the ability of people to do things for themselves - forms a key plank of the Scottish Government's approach to delivering a more successful Nation.
In April 2008, the Scottish Government and COSLA announced a joint statement of commitment to community empowerment. This is an important first for Scotland. It sets Government at national and local level on a long term path to make sure that more communities become more empowered across the country.
This Action Plan builds on that statement and provides clarity on what community empowerment is, why community empowerment is important and how communities become empowered. It also sets out a range of new and existing practical actions which underpin the process of community empowerment. Taken together, these actions are designed to help everyone involved in community empowerment to deliver more empowered communities over the coming years.
The plan takes account of the views that were expressed by nearly 380 people in the dialogue on making community empowerment a reality, that took place at the end of 2007. It has also been developed with the active involvement of COSLA and third sector colleagues.
The launch of the plan signals a significant milestone on a journey. In some places there will need to be a process of culture change, in communities and the public agencies who support them, to make sure that local people have opportunities and the ability to play their full part in helping Scotland to flourish. At times there may be a need to re-visit where power and control currently reside, as we continue to develop the relationship between Government and communities across the country.
This change process may not always be straightforward or comfortable, there are barriers to overcome when empowering communities whether they are the affects of poverty, or lack of confidence or isolation, but the benefits that can flow from people having more responsibility for their own destinies are potentially so great, that we must overcome the challenges and barriers together, as we seek to develop the confidence and ambition that lies within our communities.