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January 28, 2020

What happens when communities take control?

The National Lottery Community Fund has prided itself on being a funder that listens – presumably to Scottish Government but also to the sector that it funds. Over the 25+ years of its existence, some parts of the country have stubbornly refused to engage with it and have therefore received less than their fair share of the funds. To compensate, 5 years ago, the Lottery became more proactive in these areas, setting up the Our Place initiative which specifically set aside funds for investing. This required a very different approach and research into its effectiveness has just been published.


In 2014 we kicked off the second round of a fund called Our Place. The approach we’ve taken with Our Place is a bit different from our other funding, as it’s targeted at seven communities in Scotland that we felt hadn’t received their fair share of National Lottery funding over the years.

We didn’t just want to give money to these communities – we wanted to put them in the lead in deciding how it was used. To do this we supported local people and stakeholders to come together in groups and discuss how the various projects in development could help achieve their community’s vision. As well as taking this local, ‘place-based’ approach, we’ve also committed to working closely with these communities until 2024 to help them fulfil these aspirations.

The seven Our Place areas: Douglas, Dundee; Auchmuty, Fife; Camelon, Falkirk; Ardrossan, North Ayrshire; Shortlees, East Ayrshire; Springhall and Whitlawburn, South Lanarkshire and; Lochside and Lincluden, Dumfries and Galloway.

What’s Our Place all about?

Through Our Place, The National Lottery Community Fund has supported these seven communities across Scotland so they:

  • Have more influence on decisions taken locally
  • Have more sustainable services and facilities that reflect their local priorities
  • Say their community is a better place to live

Since 2014 we’ve invested £10.5m in funding and another £1.5m in community development delivered by organisations with expertise in supporting the third sector and communities to thrive. In this time Our Place funding has paid for all sorts of work; from developing local buildings to youth work and community projects.

What we’ve learned from Our Place

Over the last year, we’ve worked on learning from the grants we’ve made through Our Place. We visited most of the seven areas and spoke to grantholders, local authorities and people from the communities to find out more about their experience of the programme. These stories helped us bring to life the various statistics we’ve collected and analysed since the start of the programme.

We found out a lot of interesting aspects about the fund and its contribution to the community. Among other things, people have told us that Our Place:

  • Boosted engagement in local activities and decision-making
  • Created a buzz in the community
  • Invested in improving local facilities, skills and networks

People also told us how much they have achieved within their communities using small pots of money that Our Place made readily available through what we called the ‘Community Chest’. These grants of a few pounds up to £2000 helped all sorts of community members and groups get involved.

We are delighted to share the findings of the learning review with everyone, but we expect it’ll be of particular interest to those involved in asset-based community development, place-based working, or microgrants.

We are so grateful to everyone who’s taken part in this learning review. This piece of work is a testimony to the incredible things that money raised by National Lottery players, communities and partners have achieved in the last five years.

Read the report!

The full learning review can be accessed here. We have also prepared a snapshot of the learning review which you can find here.

Hope you find it as interesting as we did!