When Beveridge designed the welfare state, he always assumed that demand for these new services would gradually reduce as the nation became healthier and more self-reliant. Most crucially, he also warned of the perils of these new services undermining personal responsibility and the capacity of people to tackle their problems collectively. All too predictably those words of warning have gone unheeded ever since – particularly in relation to the care system.The Barclay Report, published 40 years later, argued that real care, for most of us, for most of the time, is rooted in strong families, friends, neighbours and informal local associations, and that the primary role of the statutory services should be to complement and nurture these foundational forms of care. The Christie Commission said much the same. But perhaps because the skills and knowledge required for this are largely beyond the scope and competence of the formal, professionalised services, these appeals have consistently fallen on deaf ears. And yet there are 100’s of small, locally rooted organisations throughout the country that intuitively understand how to foster these reserves of care. The foundations of the proposed new National Care Service are hidden in plain sight. Will they remain so? Probably.
In the most recent briefing…
Getting our message across has long been something of an obsession with the community sector and, it’s fair to say, only with varying degrees of success. In recent years, a number of media resources – specialists in their field – have emerged which could really help to promote our work. In the field of investigative journalism for instance, the Ferret is always keen to work with communities on issues that matter most to them. And across the medium of film, Take One Action, is a campaigning film festival with a programme designed to inspire social change. 2021 Festival kicks off later this month.
Sensing the end of summer approaching, last weekend I headed off for a camping trip to the Cowal peninsula. It was striking just how normalised community ownership has become. In the tiny village of Blairmore, a (very hilly) village green has been purchased with ambitious plans to develop holiday chalets and more besides. Down the coast to Innellan, supplies were purchased from the locally owned Lido Community Shop and post office. The future of the rural post office has long been debated but as Jim Hunter writes in the P&J, there’s much more to this than nostalgia.
Despite the ongoing disconnect between our mainstream health and social care systems and community led services, there are some parts of the vast NHS edifice that regularly talk to and even appear to recognise the value of the community sector’s contribution. Recently, working with ihub (Healthcare Improvement Scotland), SENScot and community development charity, Outside the Box, held a series of conversations with community led providers to try to articulate what communities bring to the table and what the sector needs to really flourish. Their short report – The Power in our Communities is well worth a read.
The railway line from Edinburgh to Galashiels was ripped up 50 years ago as part of the reshaping of Britain’s rail network prompted by the (infamous) Beeching Report. Hindsight is a great thing but back then the car was king and no one could have foreseen what a success the recently reopened Borders railway would be. Prosperity seems to fan out along the route and it has been the catalyst for countless new developments in Border towns. Chief amongst these must be the new permanent home for Scotland’s largest ever community arts project – The Great Tapestry of Scotland.
Back in the 1950’s and 60’s when slum housing in Scotland’s cities was being cleared and replaced with sprawling council housing estates on the urban periphery, no one objected to local authorities assembling land through the use of compulsory purchase. No one argues these housing experiments were a complete success but it showed what was possible in terms of state intervention in the housing and land markets. Subsequently, the free rein given to market forces has been directly responsible for much of the housing crisis. Framing state intervention somewhat differently, Scottish Land Commission has nonetheless come up with some far-reaching proposals.
The battlelines are being drawn for what will be a long drawn out siege over where control over the new National Care Service should lie. At a big picture level it’s a battle between the centralising forces of Scottish Government versus the more local interests of local government and health boards but the detail will be much more nuanced – not least because the role of third sector providers and, more importantly, community providers isn’t fully understood. An intriguing take on all this from Ron Culley, ex-CEO of the Western Isles Integration Joint Board.
If anyone writes up the complete history of Scotland’s Third Sector they might consider setting aside a chapter to tell the story of how Third Sector Interfaces came into existence. While no one would sugar coat the early years – CVSs and volunteer centres were forcefully (and unhappily) merged into single entities at the scale of a local authority – many of those early teething problems have been resolved. The impression now is of there being a new sense of purpose across much of the recently formed TSI Network Scotland. This report by Evaluation Support Scotland serves to confirm that impression.
Of the MSP’s elected in May to the Scottish Parliament, a third were newbies. Whilst it’s reasonable to assume that all had a pre-existing interest in a wide range of policy areas it also seems reasonable to assume nothing in terms of their depth of knowledge. Which is why the land reform briefing delivered last week to all MSP’s by Community Land Scotland was a smart move. A recap on the history, an update on progress to date and a call for the early introduction of further legislation – all wrapped in the context of the climate emergency and covid recovery.
The community of Huntly and District established Huntly & District Development Trust (HDDT) in 2009 as a follow up to the Aberdeenshire Towns Partnership (ATP), which aimed to help towns in the shire become better places to live, work and visit. Located on the periphery of Aberdeenshire, Huntly missed out on the oil and gas boom enjoyed by Aberdeen and its nearby towns. Huntly’s residents have instead learned how to make their own luck and are not afraid to do things differently. One key example is HDDT’s embrace of green initiatives. The Trust purchased a local farm, Greenmyres, to use it…Find out more