Community: Scottish Community Empowerment Action Plan - Celebrating Success: Inspiring Change

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SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, NATIONAL AND LOCAL

Government in Scotland has a shared role to provide strategic leadership in promoting and supporting community empowerment. This action plan is a key step towards delivering that role.

At National level the Scottish Government will ensure that the benefits of community empowerment are understood across its portfolios and that references to the part community empowerment can play in achieving our Strategic Objectives are made in appropriate policies. The Scottish Government will also continue to promote the benefits of community empowerment across a range of partners. It will continue to develop policy in partnership with others to help to further develop culture change.

The Scottish Government is investing around £2m in the wide ranging actions which will build capacity for empowerment in this plan. Since May 2007, the Government has also developed new and extended existing, grant programmes which are accessible to community groups, which total approximately £180m to 2011. These practical actions and resources will provide some of the key underpinning for the culture change we want to see happen.

At local level, local authorities, in particular through their elected members, have a key role to play in promoting the benefits of community empowerment and engagement, in particular in articulating how communities themselves can help to deliver outcomes set out in Single Outcome Agreements. Councils also have a key role in helping to drive a further culture shift which will see community empowerment as a process which can help to deliver a range of local outcomes. Local Government also has a key role to play in continuing to support and develop the community groups which are the backbone of the community empowerment process. This may involve rethinking the focus of current community engagement and community learning and development work to ensure that resources and staff time are allocated to activities that make the most impact in building the capacity of local communities.

Bus trip to Wester Hailes to see good examples

Bus trip to Wester Hailes to see good examples

COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS

Visiting good examples of environmental improvements: Livingston

Visiting good examples of environmental improvements: Livingston

The formation, existence and development of, democratic, inclusive and competent community groups, is key to community empowerment. These are the groups who provide the focus for community led action. They are around for the long term and have strong ties into the wider community. They will take many forms: Development Trusts; community based housing associations; community councils; registered tenant organisations; community forums. The list could go on. The key thing is not the precise model, but that they are recognised in their communities as important, open organisations.

The process of community empowerment relies on these organisations being in place. Support for the development of these organisations should be a key focus for investing in community capacity building. We want to see the ongoing strengthening of groups who are committed to equalities and connecting to their wider communities, who are ambitious and visionary; and who take an energetic and enterprising approach to their work.

COSLA's signing of the joint statement of commitment to community empowerment means in practice that Local Authorities want to ensure that levels of community empowerment increase across their communities over the coming years. Councils are committed to exploring opportunities where local communities can take on more responsibility for helping to achieve outcomes set out in Single Outcome Agreements. Local Government in Scotland firmly believes in the invaluable role that many community groups play in the life of their cities, towns and villages and want to strengthen that role.

COMMUNITY PLANNING PARTNERSHIPS

For community empowerment there are significant gains to be made by joined-up approaches across partners at Local Authority level and more locally. Community Planning Partnerships ( CPPs) are best placed to lead this. These high level partnerships provide strategic direction at Local Authority level and from 2009/10 are responsible for developing Single Outcome Agreements with the Scottish Government. They are the places where the key service providers in an area come together to plan priorities and discuss service delivery. Partnerships bring together the senior people from local authorities; health boards; police and fire services; enterprise bodies and the voluntary sector on a regular basis.

In relation to community empowerment there are two things that CPPs can do:

Promote and support joined up approaches to community capacity building as both the foundation of a sustainable approach to community empowerment and engagement, and a means to help communities work on their own issues. This might involve:

  • Assessing community strengths and responding to priority gaps in community infrastructure;
  • Ensuring access to the basic operating requirements of community organisations, such as accessible places to meet and childcare;
  • Mapping community capacity building support, in terms of its reach to the communities that need it most, as well as its capacity to support community groups through various stages of development from formation to managing assets if they choose to;
  • Ensuring accessibility of community capacity building support, for example through appropriate information, and referral arrangements across partners for groups seeking support.

Embedding community empowerment throughout processes for Community Planning. This might involve:

  • Continuing to build upon current work to support community engagement;
  • Self-evaluating current processes for Community Planning in terms of their impact on community empowerment;
  • As part of developing new initiatives and processes, think about the part that communities themselves can play in delivering outcomes;
  • Providing leadership to Community Planning partners in making their individual processes empowering for communities.