Last week I met with the team at DTAS to share some reflections on the very earliest days of their organisation – a time when I had some involvement and when development trusts weren’t as widely understood as they are now. For some reason, 20 years ago, the development trust movement was more established in England and so I had ventured south to listen and learn. The thing I most remember from that trip was my encounter with a relatively small but nonetheless significant group of ‘big beasts’ – development trusts with really substantial holdings of land and buildings. In particular, I recall they all had CEOs with large egos and opinions to match. To be honest, I was a little intimidated and returned to Scotland privately hoping that our big beasts, wherever they were, would be more measured in their bolshiness and more prepared to collaborate with their peers. But with hindsight, I think I missed an important lesson. These community sector luminaries, albeit somewhat self-appointed, refused to kowtow to the Government of the day, frequently calling out Ministers for falling short on their promises. They spoke truth to power, and power seemed to be listening. Is anyone speaking truth to power here?
In the most recent briefing…
An important feature of voluntary organisations and community associations of all kinds is that they are (or should be) open to anyone who wants to join. Inclusiveness is regarded as a key principle of the sector. But as everyone knows, there can hardly be a voluntary organisation, especially the small community based ones, that doesn’t feel frustrated in being able to attract sufficient numbers of local people or volunteers to their ranks. But as some new research reveals, the problem may actually lie within the organisation rather than with the reluctant volunteer.
One of the revealing aspects of the general public’s reaction to the many strike actions over the summer has been the very obvious support for the strikers. It’s as if our collective threshold of tolerance for injustice and inequality has been breached. There’s a growing appreciation that vanishingly few people seem to benefit from the economic system that shapes our lives with ever increasing numbers being pushed into real hardship. It’s just possible that civil society might come together around this. Earlier this month 1,200 people rallied on a Wednesday evening in a Glasgow venue. Is enough enough?
Just as we become familiar with multiple forms of poverty – fuel, food, in-work etc – a new one comes into view. The prospect of transport poverty, especially in rural parts and for the most disadvantaged urban communities, now looms large when the Scottish Government’s lockdown support for bus services comes to an end next month. Many unprofitable routes are likely to be withdrawn forcing those who can least afford it into car ownership. And all this has serious implications for Scotland’s 166 community transport providers. CTA’s recent update on the health of the sector raises some serious questions.
30 years ago, our shared understanding of social enterprise was probably more aligned with the world of community development than to the world commerce. But even back then it was beginning to change and that change has continued ever since. John Pearce, who influenced much of the thinking around that time, died in 2011. As a way to remember John’s life and contribution to the sector, an annual lecture is organised. This year, Aidan Pia, formerly Executive Director of Senscot, will share some thoughts and reflections on how the sector has developed over the years. Tickets are selling fast.
The idea of cooperation in an economic sense has been around for over 250 years. Long disputed as to where the first example of workers cooperating to their mutual advantage occurred, Fenwick in Ayrshire seems to have the strongest claim. There a group of weavers worked together to improve wage levels and their product quality. Since then the cooperative movement has waxed and waned in popularity but it is about to be seriously rebooted with the launch in 2023 of a new, UK wide and independent organisation for cooperatives and supporters of collective ownership.
Established in September 2003 the organisation evolved through the drive of the local housing provider and the need to focus on regeneration and service development for the community as a whole. Connect is a catalyst and key partner for activities that address a wide range of local people’s needs including training, education, social needs, financial literacy, health, wellbeing and employment. Activities include a walking club, elderly lunch club, dance, ICT courses, various social and community events/evenings, advice and support, youth drop-in, youth holiday programmes, music/recording studio, family excursions, family support, a wide variety of volunteering opportunities and confidence building initiatives.…Find out more