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2002 2012 Community Links Scotland

Widening the Potential


FOREWORD by Jackie Baillie MSP Community Links Scotland has helped to bring people together, working in partnership to contribute to the regeneration of local communities across the country. I have been proud to work with CLS since discussing the initial vision in Arrochar in 2000. As the former Minister for Social Justice, the direction of policy travel we favoured recognised that the regeneration of the wider community was just as, if not more, important as the regeneration of our homes. Ensuring that we married the investment in housing with improving the wider living environment and the capacity of communities to take action themselves was, and continues to be, important to the overall sustainability of any area. Making sure that people and place are at the centre of our thinking is what Community Links Scotland do. From the initial vision in Arrochar, their work continued to grow as they offered help to not for profit organisations, becoming Community Links West Dunbartonshire two years later and then becoming a national body in 2005, to help communities across the country. CLS have been involved in a number of projects in my area, helping both rural and urban communities to identify and realise their vision for the future. These

have included rescuing a derelict outdoor centre in Garelochhead in 2008, building on the existing strengths within the community and turning a dreary building into a state-of-the-art youth facility to the Streetlinks volunteer programme which has seen the expansion of an amateur football club in Kirkmichael, Helensburgh, encouraging young people to spend more time outdoors. CLS continues to go from strengthto-strength with a number of new projects across Scotland in the pipeline. Whether it is the new Tenants Hall in Barmulloch, Glasgow; the proposal for a new community centre in Motherwell; a community Park for Riverside Homes in Woodhall, Port Glasgow; a gardeners’ project in Renfrewshire; or other developments in Oban, Mull and Kirkintintilloch, CLS provide the expertise and support to help our communities grow. It is their expertise and support that has helped many communities realise their ambitions. In doing so, they have built community capacity, created much needed employment and made our communities more sustainable and vibrant places to live. Thank you and good luck. I hope your next decade will be just as bright as your last.

WORDS FROM THE DIRECTOR In the past 10 years, we have had four chairpersons – two from community groups and two from RSLs – who all have been active in their own communities for many years and who have all understood the need for a practical support organisation which would work with other organisations lacking specialist staff to prepare funding applications, community consultations, business plans and provide a range of other community regeneration services. Throughout our short history we have been a registered charity and a not-forprofit organisation which only works with similar not-for-profit groups.

My staff are never phased by new work, evening work, weekend work, overnight work and the constantly changing funding landscape. From working with RSLs who were not involved in community regeneration and being involved in their evolution to community anchors, establishing services and facilities for their residents and to working with very small community groups now accessing millions of pounds worth of funding, the last ten years have been wonderful to be part of. Here’s to the next 10 years! Stephen Singer, Director

Our board of directors reflects our roots and our future which is always one embedded in the community.


OUR ETHOS AND METHODOLOGY For all of us at CLS, the integral element is to develop a trusting working relationship. Our job is to provide our variety of clients with the best advice possible based on previous experience, current procedures, policies and funding criteria. We try to bring a relaxed, informal, yet extremely professional approach to our work with our clients throughout Scotland. Our community development work reflects the local circumstances, events, politics, personalities and history of groups

which are particular to their own project proposal. Our ethos has always been to take the bottom up, community centred approach by listening to what the problem is and working with the community to identify the best solution.


MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES We always aim to offer value for money and key to this is the development and implementation of projects which make a real difference to the lives of individuals and communities. Some times these are immediately visible differences such as local environmental projects which clean up eyesores, transform forgotten spaces into useful community spaces such as allotments or play areas or enhance access. Other times the difference made is to an individual’s employability prospects either through provision of training or work experience – enhanced income is

an understandable difference to want to make to someone’s life and welfare benefits and energy advice projects are examples of this, as are projects which reduce family outgoings such as provision of recycled furniture and home setup packs. Furthermore, a difference is made to whole communities when they are supported and empowered to develop community owned and run facilities such as village halls, community centres, woodlands and play areas. We develop and implement all these kinds of projects and more, filling gaps in provision and making a difference.


Community Links Scotland was established in 2002 following an 18 month feasibility study period which itself followed on from the introduction of Wider Action by Scottish Homes in 2000. West Dunbartonshire Voluntary Housing Forum established Community Links West Dunbartonshire to work with West Dunbartonshire RSLs but ongoing expansion of activity areas meant a change of name in 2005 to Community Links Scotland.



In its first year, Community Links West Dunbartonshire worked on 110 regeneration projects with 23 housing associations across the west of Scotland

Now firmly established as a leader in community regeneration, CLWD work on 65 project accessing over £1m in funding for our clients

“Excellent company to work with, who have similar ethos and values of the Voluntary Housing Sector.” Ian McLean, Director, Bridgewater HA

“As a result of their involvement and collaboration, our vision and our capacity as a project have grown exponentially - they have taught us to believe that finding funding is possible and achievable.” Rev Alastair Duncan, Chair, Route 81

2007 Our record year for fundraising - over £2.1 million was raised towards projects of community benefits

2008 The first year of a threephase employability project Constructive Communities - a project later showcased by the Scottish Government and Argyll & Bute LEADER

2009 Our youth project established Sportslinks - a project including provision of sports activities such as climbing tower and MUGA (multi-use games arena)

“The business plan provided by Community Links was supported by excellent community engagement that provided real information for all the partners to work with.” Lesley McInnes, Chief Executive, West Highland HA




Streetlinks was established with the aim of reaching disengaged young people in their own area

Community Links West Dunbartonshire expanded geographic limitations to become Community Links Scotland

Groundlinks was established offering community landscape design and contract management services

“From our tentative beginnings as a fledgling community trust, we have been immensely grateful for the practical, friendly support and sheer professional expertise of Community Links Scotland.” Jenny Cole, Rosneath & Clynder Community Action Trust

2010 This year marked the start of large scale community consultation initiatives culminating in community action plan documents for several of our clients

2012 2011 Final year of the Wider Role Fund. We started work with RSLs and community anchor organisations to prepare for new regeneration funding

We have now started to work with city-based organisations in areas such as Cadder and Barmulloch as well as widen our client base further afield in more rural areas of Scotland, while we continue to deliver successful regeneration initiatives for all our clients

FROM ASPIRATION TO IMPLEMENTATION The last ten years have seen a rapid growth not only in the number and range of clients who we have been pleased to support, but also in the breadth of services we have been able to offer in order that our clients can turn their community’s aspirations into successful projects.


The need for some of these services is self evident—the preparation of funding applications, for example. Some service provision such as our detailed consultation service is the result of the increasing funder requirement to evidence need and finally, with sustainability at the core of valid development, some of our services have been developed to help build the capacity and understanding of client groups in order that they can support their own development process in the longer term. We fully anticipate that our service delivery will continue to grow; already we are starting to get requests for fund evaluations and social impact assessments, for example, and we look forward to these and other new developments. The following pages summarise some of the services we provided over the last ten years and which we will continue to deliver. We have used case studies from the past ten years to illustrate each service in practice.


Training and knowledge is empowerment for individuals and groups alike. Our staff not only develop projects that provide training in partnership with local colleges including Clydebank and Argyll Colleges (examples include HNC Working with Communities and horticultural, IT administration and hospitality taster courses) but also develop employability projects which include training in softer skills such as teamwork, following instructions or health and safety, and our more advanced employability projects

which have offered opportunities for Modern Apprenticeships. Additionally, we have developed courses to support volunteering, working with Glasgow University in delivery of their Activate course, more recently including the added incentive of driving lessons. Finally, we are starting to deliver training in house and are currently working towards becoming an SQA accredited body.


We have provided considerable staff and committee training and as early as 2002 we facilitated information and training events for RSL housing officers. These monthly events focused on a specific topics including mental health, addictions, financial services and tenancy support with 3-4 guest speakers confirming the services that they provided or could provide in partnership with individuals or groups of RSLs. As a result of these meetings, we prepared individual Taking a Wider View information booklets full of contact information for distribution throughout client RSL tenants.


Community regeneration and community development activities cannot be viewed in isolation either from the national and local context or the actual needs but rather as a combination of both. Since 2003, we have been developing strategic regeneration plans for a range of clients. Initially these were Wider Role Strategy and Evaluation Funding Plans for RSLs focusing on committee, staff and community priorities for specific organisations over a three year period. These developed into larger documents for groups of clients who we helped to prioritise individual projects in addition to thematic priorities covering several RSLs. Over the years staff have also helped to develop community action plans for communities all over Scotland. These plans are based on extensive local consultations involving questionnaires, workshops, youth sessions and open days. The final documents identify what communities, both rural and urban, wish to see introduced to their respective areas in terms of activities, facilities and services. They also identify the potential partners and sources of funding to support these ideas. The plans serve as a useful tool for future development and funding procurement. In many cases staff have then helped community groups to take forward prioritized ideas to tangible projects.



Wider Role was launched in 2000 by the Scottish Executive and encouraged Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to think as broadly as possible about how they could help to regenerate their local communities by engaging in activities which went beyond the provision, improvement and management of housing with the aim of improving the economic, social and environmental circumstances of the communities within which RSLs operate. Following the Wider Role Fund’s relaunch in 2003 there was a steady growth in the number of RSLs wanting to develop Wider Role projects and at that time we were heavily involved in the preparation of detailed, multiannual Wider Role Plans for RSLs throughout the west of Scotland. These plans provided a population profile of the areas in which the RSLs had stock, together with a statistical analysis of need. Additionally, evidence gathered from research and local consultations provided a summary of demand and projects were identified that complied with the Scottish Executives Wider Role aims and objectives. Each project was supported with an outline funding strategy which used Wider Role to lever in substantial additional funds from a wide range of charitable trusts and other national funding organisations.

STARTING YOUNG Streetlinks were established as a separate part of CLS in 2004 to carry out detached youth work with 12-25 year olds who were not engaging with existing services and facilities. The key objective of Streetlinks is to ensure that young people on the streets gain equal and regular access to information that is appropriate and useful in order for them to make positive choices about their personal development, use of time and involvement in their community. Streetlinks use a variety of methods to achieve their objectives. As well as streetwork, we run a number projects and events with our partner organisations and provide volunteering opportunities for young people that encourage them into further education or employment.

2004 STREETLINKS RE-CYCLE PROJECT For the last few years, Streetlinks have been running a bike safety and maintenance project called re-CYCLE. The sessions were aimed at developing both the practical skills needed for bike maintenance and to provide skills and build confidence and self esteem in young people. The outcome of the project has been the ability of young people to be involved in a physical activity, learn new skills, work as a group, meet new people, make new friends and try out new activities. As well as refurbishing a bike, young people were taken for bike rides along local cycle paths and exploring their neighbourhoods.


At whatever stage of engagement, Community Links Scotland staff can draw on their experience to recognise where a client is at and what is required to be done to move a project forward. Some clients have come to us with an aspiration to change something but with no idea what vehicle to use for change, others with a project idea but with no understanding of the steps to take or the policy and funding context in which they will have to work and, on rare occasions, clients have had access to funds for change but not known how to maximize the community benefit of these funds. Other clients have approached us with well developed projects but having reached an impasse or run out of capacity to progress the project. Our work might include helping the client to shape an idea; collecting and collating community, statistical and policy support; negotiating with statutory authorities; building business plans; preparing and submitting funding applications or it might only involve signposting client with advice as to the steps required and the people and organizations they need to talk to. We have gained a reputation for encouraging clients to believe that they will realize their project and for supporting them through the sometimes frustratingly slow process of development.


A SENSE OF PLACE, FAIFLEY We worked in partnership with the local community and housing associations on an arts project that sought to define the Faifley community and create two local landmarks. The project was initiated by local residents who felt that there was no defining entrance to the estate, resulting in a lack of ownership for those living in the area. After a series of school design competitions, an artist was appointed to create the two 4.5m tall sculptures. CLS led on the development of the project, producing briefs for heritage inclusion, art and lighting consultants, undertaking community consultation, securing all funding (Lottery, Wider Role, CERS, CPP), liaisons with local authority regarding land requirements and securing planning permission. Work started with the local community in 2003, and the sculptures were erected and officially launched in December 2006.


On our first landscaping project, we worked with West Highland Housing Association and the Argyll and Bute Employability Team to enhance backcourts in WHHA’s Dunollie development and create new pedestrian access routes through estate owned woodlands. Since then, we have worked with children, housing staff, women in refuge, elderly residents, employability trainees and volunteers on projects including community gardens, pocket parks, access improvements, landscaping for social housing developments and helping children to see and appreciate landscape.


Some of our clients have benefitted greatly from the services of our two fully qualified landscape architects. Groundlinks is a subsidiary of Community Links Scotland whose aim is to give local people a strong voice in the development of the spaces that most impact on local environment. The Groundlinks team aim not only to help communities realise the potential of forgotten and unloved local spaces but also to involve individuals and groups in the consultation, design and

specification processes right from the outset. The experience of our Groundlinks staff has also meant that they have been able to help RSLs and community organisations develop landscape programmes not only to enhance the local outlook, solve a security issue or improve access, but also as a vehicle for employment training projects which have provided valuable real work and training opportunities for local unemployed individuals.

2007 ARROCHAR COMMUNITY CAMPUS We worked with Arrochar Community Development Trust for several years prior to helping them access £1,205,500 in 2007 to build a new hall for the three villages of Arrochar, Tarbet and Succoth. Funding for the new community facility came from a variety of sources including: The Big Lottery, LEADER, Argyll & Bute Council, Robertson Trust, National Park and other trusts. Further development of the new community campus was enabled through additional funding sources and Arrochar Three Villages Hall now provides extensive facilities for residents and visitors alike.



A major element of the activity of Community Links Scotland is working with client groups to identify funding that suits a project idea and then assist the group to access the funding itself. Our staff have attracted more than £14million of funding for client groups in the past ten years with individual grants ranging from £100 to £750,000 from a wide variety of funding sources. For some projects, having many funders can make for a very complicated programme of spend — making sure that you claim the right cash from the right

people at the right time with the right paperwork. So we assist our clients throughout all phases of their project managing their grants claims, keeping the spending on track, liaising with partner agencies and contractors and importantly making the funders happy that their money is spent on the right projects.


Once all the agreements, permissions, partners and the funding are in place, projects move from the development to the implementation stage and have to be managed to completion. Community Links Scotland has worked in many situations where there is neither sufficient community confidence, experience or staff capacity for projects to be managed effectively. This has been the case whether the project involves a new build facility, the staging of a major community event or a series of confidence building sessions for vulnerable individuals. In these situations our project management

staff have provided support for client groups assisting them to put in place monitoring structures, establish timelines, appoint specialists, secure premises, negotiate with statutory agencies, work with contractors, report to funders and manage project finances. We have established many long term working relationships and clients trust our advice and know that their best interests are at the heart of all decisions made by us.

2008 CONSTRUCTIVE COMMUNITIES The Constructive Communities project has run successfully since 2008 and has not only enabled over 50 community halls across Argyll and Bute to benefit from minor repairs and enhancements but over the last few years it has also provided a vehicle for much needed employability and basic skills training for unemployed individuals from the area. We have supported West Highland Housing Association to implement the project by promoting it, coordinating participating halls, monitoring the work and training, liaising with funders, monitoring project finance and carrying out customer satisfaction surveys with very positive results. No other project partner had the time or capacity to provide the project management required for this very successful project.

The project has been showcased by both its main funders Scottish Government Wider Role and Argyll and the Islands LEADER programme. We have also project managed the implementation of projects including new build facilities, community landscaping, community learning, community arts, financial inclusion, tenancy support , recycling and youth diversionary activities.


Streetlinks were one of many partners involved in delivering a Friday night football league open to all young people, male and female, aged 12-18. This diversionary activity took place on a Friday evening between 8-10pm at Clydebank High School where young people from all ends of the authority came together in a safe and supported environment to participate or simply just to support their team or friends.

Many local front line organisations were involved in delivering this event and Streetlinks worked closely with West Dunbartonshire Council Early Intervention officers, Strathclyde Police, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, West Dunbartonshire Sports Development, Bellsmyre Youth Group and many others to ensure that all young people within the target age groups are aware and gain the opportunity to be involved in this initiative.


In 2009 CLS established a sports project within Streetlinks called Sportslinks to provide a range of sports based outreach services to young people. Through Scottish Government funding, Streelinks were able to purchase sports equipment including a mobile multi-use games arena (MUGA) and a mobile climbing tower, extending an already comprehensive range of youth work resources available to young people. Building on the success of our outreach programme, we have specifically tailored our sports part of the youth work programme to allow young people increased access to sporting activities in the evening and weekends, including climbing,

football, tennis, basketball, hockey, cricket, rugby, golf, circuit and weight training. We have found these resources to be most valuable in increasing the ability to deliver a range of sporting activities designed to increase levels of physical exercise and lower levels of antisocial behaviour by providing alternatives that reduce incidences of youth disorder and encourage youth development opportunities by linking participants to sport related accredited courses.


What helps to make a project successful is finding out what the needs are from the local community; whether this is building on skills to enhance employment prospects or extending services and facilities to meet the demands of changing communities. Community consultation happens at the very early development stages of a project and really helps create a picture of the future aspirations of local people and, more importantly, the ideas come from those who directly benefit from the projects and who help turn them into reality.

ROSNEATH PENINSULA WEST COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN CONSULTATIONS Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust appointed us to carry out a community action plan that is now used to further the aims and ambitions of the trust and local residents living in the villages of Kilcreggan, Cove, Ardpeaton and Peaton. We carried out community consultation with the local residents, young people and businesses. Three postal surveys were sent to individual households, community groups and local businesses in order to determine the priorities of the local community for projects to improve the Peninsula West area. The surveys required respondents to rate their priorities in six areas: business and housing, transport, health and welfare, environment, employment and tourism, and community and recreation. A further face-to-face consultation with young people


was undertaken by our youth work staff during outreach sessions in Kilcreggan. This focused on the priorities of the young people in relation to a potential new youth facility in the area. To further narrow down the responses from the surveys, several community days were organised where local residents were able to express their opinions on specific projects that were going to be included in the action plan for their community. The result of the consultations was a clear community action plan analysing the needs, priorities and aspirations of the local community as well as highlighting projects for the trust to take forward. The project was used as a case study in the Christie Report.

FOUNDATIONS FOR BUSINESS We have carried out a number of business plans and feasibility studies across Scotland with the majority focusing around the acquisition, development and running of local community assets such as community centres, village halls and community woodlands. CLS staff can cover all aspects of the business planning process, with particular emphasis on the consultation stages that are essential to any successful plan. We use our own in house team of surveyors from Streetlinks to carry out face to face doorstep interviews, on street targeted group interviews or accessing information from community members attending open and community days. Our experience in fundraising means that finance, funding and revenue projections are both accurate and reflective of what can and cannot be achieved. By analysing needs and demands of the community and local and national policies, we are able to produce an extensive business plan for any type of community facility of group.

2011 CADDER COMMUNITY CENTRE Community Links Scotland were appointed by Cadder Housing Association in May 2011 to complete a business plan for Cadder Community Centre.

There were two buildings in the centre of Cadder for use by the local community – a community centre and a sports hall. We were working together with the housing association, the centre management committee and an architect to look at the options available for the future use of both buildings while working on improvements to its current facilities. We carried out a door to door consultation, surveyed residents at the local gala day and other community events and secured a total of 200 completed survey forms. Results from this survey began to feed into an option analysis which indicated that retaining and improving both buildings was not the best option from a range of perspectives. We are now using the results of the business plan to complete a variety of funding bids for the improvement of the community centre and the demolition and rebuilding on the sports hall site.


THE FUTURE OF COMMUNITY REGENERATION As we look forward to the rest of 2012 and beyond, an exciting future lays ahead for Community Links Scotland. We remain appreciative and respectful of our foundations established in the voluntary housing sector as we continue our successful partnership working with a variety of Registered Social Landlords But through our experiences over the past ten years we have confirmed that the key to success for regeneration at the local level is partnership working and have built a strong relationship and proven track record not just with RSLs but a huge variety of community organisations throughout Scotland.

At our Annual General Meeting this month the Board will be amending our governance structure and welcoming membership not just from RSLs but any organisations and individuals with an interest in regeneration, placing Community Links Scotland in an even stronger and more flexible position to support community led regeneration over the years ahead. We recognise that the current economic climate presents challenges in delivering successful regeneration initiatives but we remain confident that we have the knowledge, skills, experience and creativity to work with communities in taking action to deliver a better future.

2002 2012 Community Links Scotland R E G E N E R AT I O N S E RV I C E S

Community Links Scotland 63 Kilbowie Road Clydebank G81 1BL Tel: 0141 952 4382 Fax: 0141 952 6034

Email: Web:

All photos were taken at Community Links Scotland or Streetlinks events and projects. Š Community Links Scotland 2012

CLS Anniversary Booklet  

A booklet celebrating Community Links Scotland's 10 years of successful project regenerating local communities

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