Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax Improvement Foundation (WAT IF?)
Facts & Figures
The WAT IF? area covers the three rural villages of Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax, along with several small hamlets and outlying settlements. 90% of the area is in South Lanarkshire, with 10% in West Lothian, covering the small hamlet of Cobbinshaw. The Trust was formed in 2012 to ensure that community benefit funds from the various windfarm developments in the area were distributed in the local area for community led projects and improvements.
Although the villages are classed as rural, they are easily accessible from Livingston and Edinburgh, however infrastructure is lacking and one of the key priorities for WAT IF? is to address issues such as lack of sustainable transport and key services such as superfast broadband. The Trust also has an important role in supporting existing community groups + helping to develop the villages for a more sustainable future.
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)
Value of assets
Roots & Links
In February 2011, a group of local residents formed the informal WAT Improvement Group to investigate the possibility of forming a community trust to take in community benefit funds.
The WAT IF? Trust was established as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) on 28 November 2012.
Membership is open to anyone above the age of 16 in the WAT IF? area. Associate membership is open to any group or corporate body operating within the area of benefit. The board consists of up to 9 Elected Charity Trustees. There is also a management team which consists of 2 Trustees, 2 Members and the Development Officer, who manage day to day admin and project management and report 6 times a year to the Board of Trustees.
WAT IF? works closely with other groups in the area, including the Auchengray Church Centre Trust, Tarbrax Village Hall Association, Woolfords Village Association and the various clubs.
WAT IF? also administer a grant scheme which members of the community and groups can apply for to undertake projects which will have an impact on the whole community.
The Trust has developed relationships with both West Lothian Council and South Lanarkshire Council, and work with other development trusts when opportunities for partnership working arise.
Although the Trust does not manage a physical space, a key aspect of the Trust is to support those volunteer groups who run and develop the community spaces already in existence such as Tarbrax Village Hall.
Builds Local Capacity
WAT IF? relies on community members who volunteer for a wide variety of tasks, with a key role being on working groups for projects. We also have volunteers for events, newsletter distribution and are lucky to have highly skilled volunteers who can help with more technical projects, such as broadband improvements.
We believe strongly in developing our volunteers, and empowering them to develop projects with our guidance and training. By building local capacity in this way, we are building into the Trust the ability to sustain activity with skilled and motivated community members.
WAT IF? publish a bi-monthly newsletter which includes local news (including a farming diary), a community diary and key developments with projects.
The Trust has previously run a community minibus trial, and are currently investigating a more sustainable transport solution for the area.
A key need in the area is the improvement of broadband, and there is a very passionate and motivated working group who are in discussions with Digital Scotland, BT and Community Broadband Scotland to seek solutions to the poor service currently received.
We work closely with the groups who manage the village halls, to help them maintain, improve and further develop the properties for the benefit of the community.
The first Heritage Festival and Fun Day took place in September 2016 and was hailed as a great success, bringing together all of the community to celebrate the rich heritage of the area with a week-long exhibition and Fun Day which resurrected community traditions such as the ‘Bing Race’.
The refurbishment and re-opening of Woolfords Village Hall in October 2014.
Ongoing installation of Community Access AEDs in the villages.
As the Trust area has three villages, each with their own identity and needs, as well as a lot of individual settlements away from the villages, the challenge is ensuring that the needs of all residents in the area are taken into consideration and through regular communication and consultation we can build a Trust which responds to local needs.
Always take the time to celebrate successes. Particularly when there are so many volunteers giving their own time it’s so important to celebrate all successes whether they are big or small!
A community hub, where we can provide more services, a place for people to meet, and somewhere we can celebrate the area’s past, present and future.
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