Future Support and Advice to Rural Communities - Research Findings
This report explores the nature and level of existing support and advice available to rural communities in Scotland.
Our research has identified four areas of wider relevance:
The significance of consistently high quality information and guidance about funding. An overwhelming theme from our work was that communities need funding to take forward their development and regeneration aspirations - but that it is hard to find high quality sources of support to guide them through the process of finding funding sources and gaining funds. High quality information and guidance is therefore at the heart of successful community development and it is hard to exaggerate the significance of ensuring that communities can find this easily and it is of consistently high quality.
While we have identified a need at a national level for a shared database on funding sources the main issue currently is to bring all front line advisory staff up to the standard of the best in terms of their ability to help a community clarify and articulate its needs, find sources of funding and put together the strategies and business plans needed to win funding and subsequently successfully implement their proposals.
The importance of local partnership. We identified support for TSI's to be the 'first port of call' we also heard about both the different stages of development of TSIs, their relatively low profile in some areas, and the existence of some strong working relationships between communities and Local Authorities/LEADER.
This is similar to the situation in each Local Authority area in terms of approaches to employability - which led to the creation of 32 Local Employability Partnerships to help the different partners work together to create a coherent and comprehensive 'employability service' for each area. In practice, our recommendations mimic the LEPs: the main partners need to work closely together to ensure that communities are clear about where to go and wherever they go they are helped to find the best source of support. Similarly, the partners should work together to clarify their respective roles and how they can collaborate to provide the best possible local support service. In other words the partners in each Local Authority area need to work together to create a coherent, comprehensive approach - focused on the situation and needs of local communities - to the provision of information and advice on developing project ideas, finding relevant sources of funding and the right mix for the project, applying for this funding and subsequently successfully implementing the project.
The value of community to community support. There was agreement that the single most significant under-used resource was the skills and experience of community groups who had been through a successful project development process. This was also seen as a valuable source of help by communities who needed support.
The issue of how to make best use of this resource has found prominence in some LEADER Local Development Strategies and in Big Lottery's Village SOS approach in Scotland. However, there is a lot of hard work needed to put in place effective processes in terms of brokering the match between communities who need support and communities who can offer it, putting in place opportunities for experienced community members to train as mentors/supporters, and ensuring appropriate funding to cover at least travel and subsistence.
The need for context. In our engagements with communities and providers the focus has been on the development and funding of specific projects. However, there is a need (which is clearly identified from the experience of the last round of LEADER programmes) for these projects to be placed in a wider strategic context.
This means that there is a need both to help communities develop more comprehensive plans for their communities and show how specific projects fit into this - and to work with communities to create some wider strategic priorities which will allow them see how local projects can contribute to a wider set of actions and so maximise impact. What this means is that it is very hard to separate out funding advice from wider project development advice - and it is important to place project advice and support within the context of wider community plans and area strategies. This serves to emphasise both the need for strong partnership action in each area and to ensure that the funding information and advice service is an integral part of a wider service.
How to access background or source data
The data collected for this social research publication:
☐ are available in more detail through Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics
☐ are available via an alternative route
☐ may be made available on request, subject to consideration of legal and ethical factors. Please contact <email address> for further information.
☒ cannot be made available by Scottish Government for further analysis as Scottish Government is not the data controller.
Email: Liz Hawkins
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