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September 25, 2013

Worth a look

It’s almost 20 years ago since John Major announced the setting up of the National Lottery.  Who can remember what it was like before the Lottery’s millions started to pour into the many good causes?  It would be interesting to know the extent to which Lottery funding has brought real added value (as promised) or just replaced/displaced Govt funding. Irrespective of that, the Lottery has proved itself to be a funder that listens and learns from experience. That alone makes it worth engaging with its evaluation of the first Growing Community Assets programme.


At the Big Lottery Fund Scotland we are committed to supporting communities across the country develop themselves by helping make the most of their assets. From the first Scottish Land Fund through to our Growing Community Assets (GCA) investment area we have witnessed the difference our backing can have enabling ALL communities throughout Scotland – both rural and urban – to purchase and develop all sorts of local assets that matter to them.

One concern over the last ten years has been the lack of evidence about whether or not the community ownership of assets works; about what impact it can have, what its benefits are, and what challenges are involved.

So today as we publish the independent evaluation of the first round of GCA carried out by SQW we hope this substantial research now offers evidence and knowledge around community assets for all to learn from.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Director, Jackie Killeen says: “What is clear from the evaluation is that community ownership of assets is undeniably an extremely powerful way of communities coming together to work for their future development and prosperity and in some cases, their future existence.

“It can be a long, hard, frustrating, taxing and time-consuming process, but ultimately, thankfully, also a rewarding and satisfying one.

Through the first round of GCA, which ran from 2006 to 2010 we made 127 awards worth just over £48 million across Scotland. The report is clear about their significant impact:

• An estimated 36,000 people across Scotland are using GCA1 supported community-owned services and facilities.

• There are over 700 people involved in project management across 81 operational projects. These are supported by 1,700 regular volunteers.

• 337 full-time jobs and 301 part-time jobs have been created or safeguarded, while 143 businesses have been accommodated and 15 new businesses have started as a result or as part of GCA1 projects.

• Projects funded through GCA provide essential, community led services. The research shows that among those individuals using community facilities, 66% would not have been able to access the same service locally, and among those that did have this option, 80% considered their GCA1 facility to be “much better”.

• GCA projects play a part in raising the aspiration of communities. The evaluation found that 53% of respondents that had visited or been involved with a project felt that the GCA1 project had increased the “ambition and confidence” of the community to take on other activities.

This is a final year evaluation but it doesn’t mark the end of our support. The second round of GCA is open to applications and to date, 15 projects have been awarded funding of around £10 million.

Find out more about GCA evaluation Growing Community Assets 2006-2009 Evaluation