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September 10, 2008

‘Strengthening Scotland’s Communities’

The Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) has produced a report which recognises the empowering effects of communities owning their own assets. The report ‘Strengthening Scotland’s Communities’ also recognises that few community workers have the requisite skills or confidence to help local people with the process

Scottish Community Development Centre

Conclusions of the ‘Strengthening Scotland’s Communities’ Committee Report
(The italics are our own)

The Strengthening Scotland’s Communities programme was delivered by the Scottish Community Development Centre on behalf of Learning Connections to over 200 participants with an interest in, or responsibility for community capacity building. Participants within the series of learning events comprised senior managers, CCB practitioners, and community activists from across Scotland and across sectors. A number of issues emerged from discussions which will be useful in considering how CCB practice can be further supported and developed in Scotland.


In many respects the discussion of issues has already indicated appropriate responses. This final section highlights some of the key messages that seem to come from the discussions.

Part of the perceived weakness of CCB seems to be associated with the lack of a national strategic framework and the need for a funded lead agency in this area. Both deserve attention. Though identified as a national priority within WALT the evidence is that CCB is not getting equivalent attention to the other national priorities, yet in terms of the aspirations of government policy to stimulate community empowerment and a more participatory style of democracy, this is an apparent contradiction.

As a starting point in any activity it is essential that the competences of those charged with its delivery are up to the challenge. The discussion of issues suggests that there remains some doubt about whether this is always the case. There is little doubt therefore that greater attention needs to be given to developing and articulating a robust practice theory for CCB in Scotland and to providing opportunities for development and enhancement of the required skills at qualifying and continuing professional development levels.

In relation to development of the theory of CCB practice, the discussions have highlighted the need to develop a much clearer perspective on the relationship between CCB as a tool for local empowerment and its contribution to national strategic outcomes. There is also a need to better understand the relationship between intermediary and end outcomes of the CCB process. Though there are perceived issues relating to interpretation of the descriptions of CCB outcomes as articulated for example in ‘Delivering Change’ and ‘How Good is Our Community Learning and Development’ the more fundamental problem seems to lie not in understanding what CCB is trying to achieve but in appreciating how to do it effectively.

In several discussions, for example, attention was drawn to the growing recognition of the potential of asset based, social economy practice as a means of underpinning community capacity. Social enterprises such as community trusts were seen as having the potential to underpin a self sustaining process of community capacity building in which the growing competence residing within communities could be tapped to build wider community capacity. Yet, despite this recognition, there was an apparent lack of confidence that, typically, CLD workers had the skills and knowledge effectively to promote such models of practice. It is in such areas that the development of a more robust and widely understood theory of the practice of CCB is required. This debate also adds a wider dimension to the need to enhance qualifying and post qualifying training opportunities.