Alex Neil MSP, Minister for Housing and Communities
Welcome to the Spring 2010 edition of the Community Empowerment Newsletter. I am delighted to be able to share with you more inspiring examples of how communities across Scotland have taken control over their futures, and are contributing to the lasting regeneration of their local areas. Community empowerment is not an add-on to regeneration: it is a fundamental building block.
The launch of the Community Empowerment Action Plan a year ago, was a milestone - celebrating the success we already have in Scotland in terms of community empowerment. But it was also about laying down a challenge - to see more action being taken to empower communities and for more partnership working between the public, voluntary and community sectors. In the past year, I have visited many communities across Scotland and have been hugely impressed by people's hard work in transforming their local areas.
The examples of community empowerment provided in this Newsletter outline how a bottom-up approach has enabled four communities across Scotland to take ownership of regeneration projects in their area. Empowerment exists in many forms, and for the people of Neilston, Aberfeldy and Cumbrae, community asset ownership has contributed significantly to the redevelopment and sustainability of these areas.
Two of the showcase communities have made excellent use of the Scottish Government's Town Centre Regeneration Fund awards to help purchase and regenerate old and disused buildings, transforming them into a valuable asset, providing facilities and services for the local community and beyond.
The communities featured in this Newsletter show what can be achieved through the determination, vision and action of local people, In each example, the strength of the partnership working with a range of stakeholders and the effectiveness of community engagement is clear for all to see..
I hope that these Newsletters will help inspire and encourage other communities to gain more control and contribute to the development and sustainability of their local areas. And I know that, as more communities become more empowered, they will contribute to the success of Scotland as a nation.
Cllr Harry McGuigan, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Well-being and Safety
It's a year since the publication of the Community Empowerment Action Plan. In that time, I have seen much good work taking place. Some of the most exciting work that I've been involved in has been around community empowerment's role in tackling anti-social behaviour.
As part of the agreed joint actions for the Antisocial Behaviour Framework and the Community Empowerment Action Plan launched last year, a pilot Community Wellbeing Champions initiative commenced this month. This initiative essentially consists of 5 pilot areas across Scotland to undertake participatory budgeting processes. The objective of the Community Wellbeing Champions initiative is to build the communal capacity and confidence to underpin outcomes to make communities safer. The realisation of these outcomes will be made more achievable with the developed capacity of confident and mobilised communities behind them and local elected members overseeing and supporting the local activities.
A key opportunity for the development of the Community Wellbeing Champions initiative is that its approach and methodology could potentially be applied to other policy areas (such as the criminal justice agenda, supporting the implementation of Community Payback Orders by engaging communities in the selection of suitable projects for offenders to undertake locally). In addition, the initiative could also be used to support the role of elected members locally in relation to a range of other thematic policy agendas.
Also on the horizon is the Development Trust Association Scotland Symposium on Community Assets, in May. This event will encourage discussions around different models of asset management and transfer and some of the challenges linked to this agenda and its role in Community Empowerment.
Finally, at the last COSLA Community Well-being and Safety Executive Group, I secured agreement for the creation of an elected member Tackling Poverty Working Group, which will be looking at corporate approaches to poverty and how we can marry the early intervention and prevention model within the three Social Frameworks of Achieving Our Potential, Equally Well and the Early Years Framework, with the realities of diminishing public sector resources. I see the community empowerment agenda as key to these discussions - with the effects of recession and the move towards outcomes-based approaches, we need to look at new models of delivery and new ways of engaging and empowering individuals and communities.
This newsletter includes a number of exciting case studies of work going on across Scotland, by committed and enthusiastic community groups who have all made a difference in their area. I hope you will find these stories inspirational for the year ahead, and all the work to come.