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June 19, 2013

Oxfam aims to Grow development trusts

Just over ten years ago, the idea of establishing a network of like-minded communities with an interest in running businesses and owning land and buildings was first mooted.  As it turned out, it was an idea waiting to happen. Membership of Development Trusts Association Scotland has grown steadily ever since and DTAS is now the largest community sector network in the country. Despite this, Oxfam Scotland has recently launched what looks to be its own variation on the theme of providing support to development trusts.


The Grow Trust

to see website click here

We are going to level the playing field; Grow incomes, Grow jobs and Grow a fair return for communities.

We are going to Trust people in their communities, Trust their abilities and Trust their expertise to work out solutions and deliver them.

We are going to transform how business is done at a local level; no more rolling a jelly up a hill, communities at the table with the information they need and the support they need at a time when they need it. 

We are going to do this by building local enterprises which can generate community wealth; which will be controlled by the community through their Development Trusts. 

On first sight, it seems an odd collaboration; Lochboisdale Amenity Trust on South Uist, Beith Community Development Trust in the semi-rural area of North Ayrshire, Linwood Community Development Trust in the urban central belt setting up The Grow Trust to work on their agendas. 

This collaboration of urban and rural Trusts, brought together by the support of Oxfam, arose from the shared journey and experience of these three community trusts, an experience shared by 1000s of community organisations up and down the country. 

Being told by public organisations; what can’t happen, how it would be difficult, that our expectations were too high. Endless meetings, hurdles, barriers and hoops that seemed to be put up at every stage. Those never ending questions which required answering, the lists of what we needed to do was a sap on our energy and a drain on our enthusiasm. 

These challenges resulted in a transformational change of approach which we all shared. No more seeking permission to change. No more waiting for policy changes, no more waiting for public bodies to agree with what each of our communities were wanting to change; we were going ahead with the change on our terms; No permission was required.

As we now had a shared approach we identified projects which we could share the work on and the subsequent benefits, the way we were going to achieve this was through the Grow Trust.