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December 3, 2014

An enduring success

Last week, some primary school age children from Govanhill’s inspirational Big Noise project gave a public performance at Govanhill Housing Association’s 40th birthday bash. The pride with which these children held their violins and cellos told its own story, as does the fact that it was a community controlled housing association that brought Sistema Scotland to this disadvantaged part of Glasgow. Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum, the body that represents these housing based community anchor organisations, has just produced a new report which highlights their enduring contribution.




For a copy of the report  – Still Transforming Communities – click here

Forward by Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health,Strathclyde University

For many years, I have been promoting the importance of asset based approaches and the health benefits that come from people having control over the decisions that affect their lives. Because of this, I am delighted to have been asked to write a foreword for this brochure produced by the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum, which represents 63 community controlled housing associations.

CCHAs are voluntary organisations which operate in many of the areas of the West of Scotland where social and economic outcomes are poor. They are run by local people and work in discrete geographic areas providing and maintaining affordable housing and, more generally, improving the community and providing opportunities for local people.

CCHAs are a real success story. For more than 40 years, local residents have been responsible for major building programmes, owning and maintaining significant housing and community assets, and taking strategic decisions about creating sustainable communities. Glasgow would look completely different were it not for the initial pioneers (the residents who challenged the wholescale destruction of communities and imagined a different way forward through the improvement of their neighbourhoods) and their successors, who have tirelessly sustained their approach. The landmark

Victorian tenements in much of the inner city would not be here – and the streets that people ran and cycled through during the 2014 Commonwealth Games would have been decidedly less photogenic.

Local residents in CCHAs took control of local assets long before we all started talking about asset based approaches, the Christie Commission, co-production and community empowerment. But there can be no doubt that they demonstrate the characteristics that we now aspire to in Scotland and have been doing this successfully since the early 1970s.

This is a story that is well worth telling. And we can all learn from the powerful change that can come from giving residents the opportunity to take the important decisions about what happens in their area.