Community Development Alliance Scotland

April 2008

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Announcement on community empowerment

The Scottish Government has made an announcement on the progress being made with the Empowering Communities agenda.  As a result of the views put forward in the series of discussion events held in October to December last year, the Scottish Government and COSLA have agreed to issue a joint commitment to ensuring that communities have a degree of control and influence over the things that matter to them.  This reads:“We are delighted that for the first time in Scotland, central and local government are making an explicit joint commitment to helping local people to play their full part in making Scotland flourish.  For the Scottish Government and COSLA empowering communities is not jargon, it is a key element of what we are both about.  This is an agenda we share with colleagues from across the public, voluntary and community sectors. A key element of our joint commitment is to be clear about what community empowerment is and why it matters. We see community empowerment as a process where people work together to make change happen in their communities by having more power and influence over what matters to them.  We also each believe in the central representative role of councillors in invigorating local democracy, and we see the process of community empowerment as a key way of complementing this.  In getting to this point we have listened to a wide range of people and we have responded to what we heard.  So we are seeking to provide strategic leadership.  We are not launching new short term initiatives and we will celebrate the vibrant work that is already being done across the country.  To support this high level commitment, we will also develop an Action Plan in partnership with the community and voluntary sectors over the coming months.  Based on feedback we have received to date the broad outline of that plan will cover:

  • Highlighting examples of community empowerment;
  • Providing direct capacity building investment to community groups;
  • Investing in an integrated programme to develop skills, learning and networking in relation to community empowerment and engagement;
  • Developing support to help communities own assets;
  • Investing in improved support for community capacity building;
  • Working with Audit Scotland to agree how to assess progress on empowerment.

Today’s joint commitment is a starting point for a long term journey, and we look forward to continuing to work together and with communities as it develops.”

VOICE – Visioning Outcomes in Community Engagement

The Scottish Community Development Centre has launched VOICE as part of its ongoing work to support the implementation of the National Standards for Community Engagement on behalf of the Scottish Government. It is a planning and recording tool, using an MS Access® database, designed to assist individuals and organisations to design and deliver effective community engagement. A further description is on their website. For more information on how to get involved contact them on 0141 248 1924 or info@scdc.org.uk .

‘Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland’

The discussion document ‘Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland: The Future of Mental Health Improvement in Scotland 2008-2011′ was issued by the Scottish Government as a consultation to determine the future direction of mental health improvement for 2008-11, focusing on what Local Authorities, NHS Boards and other key stakeholders can do to support the agenda.  The responses received are available here.
Some CDAS members recently attended a discussion hosted by the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum on the ongoing issues. A note based on these discussions will be circulated soon.

More on Single Outcome Agreements

Useful materials explaining the new Single Outcome Agreement system can be found in the presentations made to a recent meeting of the Community Planning Network – look for example at the slides by Jon Harris of COSLA, amongst others.

New Light on Adult Literacy and Numeracy

A Scottish Government report ‘New Light on Adult Literacy and Numeracy  in Scotland’ was published earlier this year (a summary is also available). It says little about approaches to increasing literacies, being principally intended to present factual data. It is interesting if depressing to note the new data that shows that men and women with lower literacy and numeracy levels (SCQF Access Level skills) ‘were generally less engaged with their community, being less involved in clubs, groups or activities or to hold any political interest’.

Rowntree reports

Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports have been published on:

  • ‘Routes and barriers to citizen governance’, looking at the structural, environmental, cultural and personal factors that encourage different communities to get involved or prevent them, based on experience in the English Local Strategic Partnerships
  • ‘Community empowerment in practice: lessons from Communities First’, looking at the experience of that Welsh programme. This emphasises the need for support to community members to develop the skills required, multiple routes to participation and clearer links between strategic partnerships at ward level and those at the local authority level.

Support for community gardens

The Big Lottery Fund has announced a grant of nearly half a million pounds to the Growing Communities in Scotland partnership. This includes the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, the Scottish Therapeutic Gardening Network (Trellis) and the Allotments Regeneration Initiative (ARI).  The funds will allow it to provide support to at least 350 community, therapeutic and allotment gardens across Scotland. The three partners will be able to work together to help projects develop new ideas, knowledge and skills so they can offer more consistent services.

Community Empowerment – English discussions

Following Communities Secretary Hazel Blears’ announcement on 5 March of a new Empowerment White Paper, the Department of Communities and Local Government is inviting groups to run their own local events on Empowerment.
It has jointly produced a ‘Community Power Pack’ with suggestions on how to run an event, advice for facilitators and organisers and detailed information about empowerment issues.  You can read the launch document about the White Paper on the Communities and Local Government website.

 

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