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April 18, 2018

Anchoring public services

The phrase community anchor organisation was first coined in 2004 in a Home Office report- Firm Foundations. The idea that in order to thrive, communities must have their own independent, locally controlled organisations was not new but this particular phrase seemed a useful way of encapsulating the concept.  Scottish Community Alliance has championed the idea ever since, aiming to develop a better and more widespread understanding of it. For the past year, detailed research has been ongoing to explore the potential relationship between community anchors and public service reform. Findings will be presented at an open seminar next month.


What Works Scotland

The potential of community anchor organisations to engage with, lead and challenge the reform of public services in Scotland.

This seminar will share our learnings about community anchors and their role in public service reform. It will offer space for dialogue, discussion and deliberation on community anchors, the community sector and their relationship to public service reform.

Join What Works Scotland for this Learning Day and Shared Inquiry into the roles of community anchor organisations in relation to public service reform and the Christie Commission’s agenda of partnership, participation, prevention and performance. We will work together to explore their potential given the opportunities emerging through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, and now the Scottish Government’s Local Governance Review.

Community anchors are:

·         community-led/-controlled organisations committed for the long-term to their community

·         multi-purpose/holistic providing a range of options for action – local economic development, service provision, community-building, leadership and advocacy

·         responsive, and develop in ways relevant to their local context.

Community anchors have been recognised in Scottish policymaking over the last decade – the Community Empowerment Action Plan 2009 and the Regeneration Policy 2011. Key community sector bodies have advocated for and lead the development of this model in actual practice (see the Advisory Group members below).

The thinking on community anchors has been developed through the Scottish Community Alliance over the last decade and they are recognised in Scottish policymaking – the Community Empowerment Action Plan 2009 and the Regeneration Policy 2011. Community development trusts and community-controlled housing associations are most likely best placed to pursue this approach but other local community organisations can draw and build from it too.

This Learning Day will build from a new What Works Scotland report to be published in May researched by James Henderson (What Works Scotland) and Philip Revell, (Sustaining Dunbar Community Development Trust),  and Oliver Escobar (What Works Soctland) who will  facilitate the day.

 The report illustrates six community anchor exemplars from across Scotland (urban, rural, remote) and the complexity of the work they undertake which will be a starting point for our discussions on the Day. Some of the community anchor exemplars and some of the Advisory Group members (Development Trust Association, Glasgow & West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, Scottish Community Alliance and Scottish Government Regeneration Team) will act as resources for our discussions too.

The ‘experience in the room’ will then shape the dialogue and deliberation. We are seeking diverse participants from across sectors to support rich discussions and raise the key issues and challenges – in particular, for partnership-working between the community sector and public services.

The key questions for consideration will include:

·         What do we mean by a community anchor and what do they look like in practice?

·         In what ways can community anchors actively engage and make a difference to the Christie Commission’s agenda?

·         How can public services, the state and policymakers actively support the development of local community anchor organisations?

·         What more are we learning through our discussions about local democracy, community resilience, and the prevention of inequalities?

Our discussions on the day will be written up as a short event report and shared with the Scottish Government’s Local Governance Review.

Who should attend?

The day will be very relevant to everyone interested in community-led approaches to public service reform including:

·         community organisations, the community sector and wider third sector

·         public sector, public services, community planning partnerships

·         policymakers and researchers

More details

Date: Tuesday, 15 May 2018. 9.30am-3pm

Location: Grassmarket Community Project, 86 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh

Places are free but limited, please register on Eventbrite