Our Place is an exciting place-based initiative from the Big Lottery Fund that aims to empower local people and organisations to bring about a massive and lasting positive difference to their neighbourhood.
It is targeted at seven areas of deprivation in Scotland where there is limited community capacity and little track record in securing Lottery or other funds.
Bellsmyre – West Dunbartonshire
In 2010 we were contracted by the Big Lottery Fund to support the new initiative in one of the five pilot areas – Bellsmyre, one of the most deprived wards in Scotland. The local community had the possibility of accessing up to £1 million worth of funding if they were able to join together and create a whole community vision.
The key features of the Our Place model include: the preparation of a community ‘Vision Statement’; funding potential of £1 million if the community could come up with robust project funding applications; a timetable of two years to bring forward applications and the use of external support agencies to help the process.
In Bellsmyre we initiated the process through our well-tested listening process. We then quickly identified local issues and assets and helped to make connections. In all we listened to over 300 adults and 150 children and met with every established organisation and group in the area.
We set up a number of working and mutual interest groups to take forward ideas around a set of main themes – young people, the elderly, community activities and facilities, addictions, and the environment and created the Our Place Vision Statement.
It was only at this stage, once the community had identified their strengths and desires, that local statutory and voluntary sector agencies were invited into the process and to contribute (e.g. to offer particular expertise and to facilitate the transfer of assets to community ownership).
Working together, and led by the community, initial ideas were converted into a set of project funding applications.
The process itself was important in helping the community to realise that what it really needed was not what they first thought; not just a traditional community centre but ongoing support. In this case, facilitators to help them build the community, support families and sustain activities.
Altogether the Bellsmyre community have secured £1.8 million from the Big Lottery Fund (and about £500k from elsewhere). Half is going on young peoples programmes, the elderly, community co-ordinators and a family addictions worker and the rest on capital investments such as a bike track, a cinema, a vegetable growing plot and a new hall and cafe.
To manage all this, and to sustain efforts for the long-term, we helped set up a new Community Development Trust in Bellsmyre with a five-year business plan towards self-sufficiency. Work is now complete and the initiative has been a huge success.
You can read the Big Lottery Fund’s internal process evaluation of Our Place here.
Ardrossan North East and Central
In 2014 we started work in Our Place Ardrossan Central and North East, one of seven areas across Scotland selected by the Big Lottery Fund. Community Renewal are working with the community to facilitate, build capacity and support the neighbourhood focusing on three outcomes:
We have established with the communities consultation a ‘Vision for Ardrossan’ (Linked to document here) this was drafted from the team using listening surveys where community members identified areas for improvement, local assets (Linked to Asset Map) and people who had a shared passion for making their neighbourhood a better place to live.
We have set up several thematic groups, bringing together people who share the same vision for their neighbourhood, these groups consist of The Physical Environment, Young People, Opportunities for All, Arts, Music, Culture and History.
To allow the community to have more influence on decisions made locally we have a Large Forum, where all ideas for projects are discussed with opportunity to ask questions and is a great opportunity for networking and looking at collaborative working.
Community Renewal are currently providing a support service to the Our Place initiatives in North Ayrshire and Douglas in Dundee.
We believe that some of the learning from Our Place could provide a useful framework for Locality Planning.