Blog - thoughts on community groups and asset transfer
November 2, 2017
In this short blog, Andew Paterson from Scottish Communtiy Development Centre highlights some challenges and ways forward for community organisations that want to have a building, or even just a room, to work from.
A view with a room
While raising awareness of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act to different communities in Scotland, I’ve heard from a number of small community organisations who simply want some premises from which to operate from. They often don’t have a revenue stream that would enable them to take over an asset using, for instance, the asset-transfer request section of the Act.
Although the Act states that community bodies can, as an alternative to purchasing an asset, apply to lease, manage or use an asset, the requirements and complexity of the asset-transfer process would seem to be geared towards something more substantial than, say, making use of a spare room in a public building to run a small community project.
That’s why I was so pleased to receive the latest Social Impact Pledge from New College Lanarkshire. As part of the college’s pledge, a local charity, Routes to Work, is being provided with the use of a room within the college’s Cumbernauld campus for 3 hours per week.
The college states:
“Routes to Work is a free confidential service helping unemployed residents in the North Lanarkshire area to access opportunities in education, training & employment by providing advice, information, guidance and practical support to develop and enhance employment prospects. Having Routes to Work on campus will enable them to promote their services to residents of community regeneration areas and to anyone facing other barriers to (re)engage with the labour market.”
This pledge (which also consists of a charity appeal and the offer to local groups of car park space for events) came in the day after I found myself remarking that, at a time when community activity, participation and empowerment is being valued at a policy level, it is counter-intuitive that local community groups find it hard to find any kind of base. The Empowerment Act and other legislation, such as the CLD regulations (2013), require public authorities to support community groups to participate and to achieve change. The provision of space to work from would be a great start, particularly since many public buildings have available space which could be provided to community groups at little or no cost.
So well done to New College Lanarkshire for leading the way here, and let’s see more organisations follow suit.
The Social Impact Pledge is a Scottish Government initiative aimed at increasing the social impact of public sector organisations across Scotland. Public sector organisations pledge to increase their social impact by making a public commitment to changing three aspects of their current operations or policies. For more information, and to see existing pledges to communities across Scotland, visit http://www.communityscot.org.uk/social-impact-pledge/
Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) promotes and supports community development activity across Scotland. SCDC maintains and manages the Communities Channel Scotland website.