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June 8, 2010

Time to decide – top down or bottom up?

Despite the presence of hundreds of local anchor organisations around the country –each one  organised, owned and managed by local people with the sole ambition of building and sustaining strong community life –the Lottery continues to favour the appointment of consultants and quangos in order to build local capacity and ‘empower communities’.   Top down rather than bottom up.  Two new programmes – Our Place (£9m)and Stronger Communities (£1m ) being recent examples

Time to decide – top down or bottom up
Our Place
The Bellsmyre area of Dumbarton in West Dunbartonshire, Moorpark in Renfrew, Renfrewshire, Newmains near Wishaw in North Lanarkshire, Roystonhill in North Glasgow and Greenock Central and East in Inverclyde are the five areas to benefit as the BIG Lottery Fund unveils a multi-million pound programme to help revive five communities in Scotland.
The Big Lottery Fund has today launched plans for a new targeted funding programme which will invest £9 million of Lottery funding in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas. The Our Place programme has been developed by Scotland’s largest lottery funder in order to make increased investment in five areas which have not seen the expected level of grants over the last three years. Our Place will also pilot a new way of working more closely with communities in Scotland to stimulate demand and ensure that the needs and aspirations of local people are reflected in the lottery funding they receive.
Launching the programme the Chair of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, Alison Magee, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is committed to ensuring that we help the communities across Scotland which are facing the biggest challenges. We’ve now invested over £130 million pounds through our Investing in Communities programme, and Our Place is our way of ensuring a better spread of our funding while piloting new ways to make sure that it’s invested effectively.
“Our Place will target a number of communities which could particularly benefit from a closer working relationship with BIG. These areas have been identified in partnership with a range of local organisations, including the local authority and local voluntary organisations, in order to ensure that this significant investment can be delivered effectively with the biggest benefit. We’ve worked hard to make sure that we take a new approach which has the potential to shape the way we work in the future.”  

Stronger Communities
SCDC has been awarded over £400,000 from the BIG Lottery Fund to deliver the Achieving Community Empowerment (ACE) capacity building programme in Scotland. 
The programme aims to build the capacity of emerging community groups by providing mentoring support, developing learning materials, facilitating the sharing of knowledge, experience and learning between participating projects and communicating key lessons more widely.  The programme will run until September 2014 and will directly benefit 50 groups across Scotland.
We will work with 12-14 groups per year to support them to assess the motivations and capacities of their own organisation, and those they seek to influence or work with. We will encourage groups to build awareness and support in their community, and to build the evidence to support the case for change. 
Such change may involve establishing community-run services or facilities; working with public agencies through community planning processes, or advocating through other means. This will be done through a series of structured workshops that focuses on the four key considerations in effective community action: assessment, planning, doing and reviewing. 
We will also develop a toolkit which draws on a range of good practice materials and ensure shared learning takes place with and between participants so that lessons learned can be shared across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors.
We are now taking applications for the programme from community groups who require support to help them achieve improvements and changes in their local communities.  If you think you would benefit from this kind of support and would like to apply to the programme, please contact Aileen Skillen or Lee Goundry by telephoning 0141 248 1964 or by e-mailing either or
Further information about the programme and how to apply is contained within the ACE programme guidance notes.  Click here for a copy
The BIG Lottery Fund is funding two other capacity building programmes with other partner organisations under the Dynamic Inclusive Communities Fund.  All three programmes of community support are brought together within ‘Stronger Communities’ which is a collaborative initiative between Forward Scotland, the Scottish Community Foundation,and the Scottish Community Development Centre. 
Our Community Our Future, delivered by the Scottish Community Foundation, is designed to provide support to a small number of new and emerging groups to develop their capacity to influence change within their community.  For more information, please visit or register your interest with us and we will send you further details when available.

Forward Scotland will provide support to 150 new and existing groups under the ‘Sus It Out +’ programme to help them develop and become more sustainable.  For more information, please visit