Small projects, big impact
For a few years now, we’ve recognised the importance of how small projects can make a big impact on local communities across the country – as explained in these five inspiring stories from Stalled Space Scotland.
But it’s not just size that matters. It’s who’s in charge. When a community leads a project, it can create so many extra benefits beyond simply delivering a project: that’s why community empowerment is such an important part of the government’s agenda.
Working with communities
And that’s why Architecture and Design Scotland was delighted to be asked by the Scottish Government at the end of last year to develop and deliver a pilot programme to help support communities to develop their skills and deliver projects in relation to place. The pilot programme is part of the Scottish Government’s “Making Places” initiative.
The aim of the pilot programme is to help support the delivery of various place projects through shared learning within communities and their local authorities, development of peer network and forum, signposting to organisations and key agencies to provide additional support. You can get a flavour for some of the community place projects which are being supported by reading these other blog posts about West Kilbride Craft Town and Fort William waterfront – both of which are big ambitious projects, but with the community most definitely in charge.
This pilot programme is a new venture for Architecture and Design Scotland. We’re quite openly saying that we don’t have all the answers. In the spirit of collaboration, the support that we’re offering community groups is all about collaboration. Architecture and Design Scotland can provide some direct assistance around design and procurement of projects for buildings and spaces.
What Communities are saying
But when we ask the community groups on the programme, we weren’t surprised to learn that much of the advice and support they’re looking for is around accessing funding, working with local authorities, organisational governance, and engaging with their communities. Scotland is blessed with a number of organisations who are experts in these areas – like Scottish Community Development Centre, Scotland’s Towns Partnership Development Trusts Association Scotland, PAS and the Third Sector Interfaces in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas. We believe that one of the most valuable things that we can do is link community groups with these and other organisations – all with the aim of helping to deliver community-led place projects.
What’s fundamental for us is that we do all this collaboratively – with the community groups, and with the range of other organisations who can support them.
This might not be rocket science, but we think it’s a step change in how community groups get support to improve their place. We’re proud to be part of it!