Bob Marshall and Paul McColgan founded Community Renewal in 2003 with a burning question – What would it take to lift a neighbourhood out of poverty?
With a small team led by Diane McGartland-McDermott we wanted to test a new, more holistic way of transforming communities by empowering those living in their neighbourhoods to get involved in community activity and so we developed a methodology for engaging with every household in a neighbourhood.
Since then we have worked in 12 neighbourhoods in Scotland, conducted over 30,000 listening conversations, supported almost 4,000 people into work and 3,500 to take up health improvement services. Around sixty new groups and community organisations have been established and of the 12 neighbourhoods that we have worked in, 4 have datazones that have come out of the 15% most deprived. We have completed our first learning cycle and now want to share with you what we have learned so far.
We realised that we were pushing boundaries, testing new ways of thinking and supporting statutory agencies in new approaches often through co-located services working from our base in the heart of the community. We now have over 50 staff and volunteers.
Learning what works we refined our methodology to more fully define the relationship between health and employment and develop further our cutting-edge methodologies such as holistic assessments and the role of case managers.
We pioneered work in new areas, for example focusing on health outcomes as a driver for engagement and transformation. This resulted in new projects like Health Case Management, Peer Coaching and the Keep Well outreach service, all supported by our strong partnerships with other agencies including the NHS, Local Authorities and Glasgow Association for Mental Health.
We successfully adapted our work to engage with and achieve positive results for vulnerable and disengaged young people and developed the Employment Safety Net.
Our commitment to transforming neighbourhoods has been furthered by our partnership work with the Big Lottery Fund and The People’s Health Trust where we are supporting the transformation of 5 neighbourhoods through their Our Place (Big Lottery) and Local Conversations (People’s Health Trust).
We haven’t stopped experimenting though: we are discussing with statutory agencies how our approach can better support vulnerable young people leaving care to identify and achieve their life goals. Our work with the Wel charity will see us bring the WEL Programme into neighbourhoods and schools and in Grampian we are helping GP practices to integrate their work better with the communities they serve.
Click here to view a timeline of our history.