On the18th of March, the Scottish Government announced an investment of £350 million to support local communities and households in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. £40 million of this support was to be channelled through a new Supporting Communities Fund, introduced specifically to support the rapidly growing and inspiring community efforts at a local level to respond to Coronavirus.
DTAS is a key delivery partner of this fund and over the last three weeks, has processed applications from over 60 members involving grants totalling almost £2.5 million! Across the whole of Scotland 128 DTAS members have been awarded grants totalling £4,216,879 to support community responses to the impact of the Coronavirus.
Projects supported cover a wide range of activity delivered by community anchor organisations1, ranging from the supply of essentials like food and prescriptions, to wellbeing check-ins and benefits advice – for the most part, co-ordinated and delivered by volunteers.
Whilst it is not surprising that DTAS members are at the heart of this activity, it is heartening to see just how many are stepping up to help support their communities, particularly when you consider the financial challenges that the pandemic and resulting lockdown has created for development trusts.
The circumstances surrounding all of this activity are far from ideal, but the response from organisations like development trusts and other community anchor organisations, hammers home the fact that it is the people in communities who are the biggest assets and therefore the best placed to respond to and meet local need.
DTAS is under no illusion that there are hard times ahead when it comes to adapting to the ‘new normal’ once the current restrictions ease and the full financial implications of Coronavirus are understood. We want to reassure members that we are all in this together and we will do all that we can to continue to support you to navigate your way through these uncertain times.
Commenting on the support received by Cranhill Development Trust, Chief Executive Marie Ward said:
“Because of our presence in Cranhill, we were aware very early on that there would be lots of people in our local community that would really struggle to make ends meet as a result Coronavirus and the lockdown restrictions imposed.
“Almost immediately we were supporting over 160 households locally with food and basic supplies every week. This has since risen to over 200 households and we simply could not have done this without the support from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund.
Thanks to this support we have been able to ensure that families are able to provide children with a hot and nutritious meal every day, as well as supporting those that find themselves unemployed and in a long queue to access Universal Credit with advice, signposting and emergency gas and electricity top ups.”
1 A community anchor organisation will be a community body who is able to, and has the capacity to, act as a local contact in their community. They will be well established in the community with a good understanding of their community the challenges arising from the current Covid-19 emergency, or the ability to readily gather this information and able to connect and co-ordinate activity in their area with other local groups and with public sector responses.
Vacant & Derelict Land Project Manager
This exciting 2 year post is the result of a partnership between the Scottish Land Commission and the Development Trusts Association Scotland which seeks to address the challenging problem of vacant and derelict land. In particular the post will focus on the smaller derelict sites, which often cause the most harm to local communities, but can equally be well suited to community-led regeneration. Working alongside development trusts or other community organisations, the post-holder will develop practical and innovative approaches to bringing different types of these small and persistently problematic sites back into productive use, in a way that could support and scale-up community led regeneration across Scotland.
The post-holder will be based within DTAS, the national membership organisation for development trusts, and will require to have good experience of delivering community-led regeneration. This is a unique post which will also require good negotiating and communication skills, knowledge of financing projects of this nature, a creative and solutions-focussed approach and the ability to capture and report on the learning from the project.
Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), the national community-led regeneration network is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Chief Executive, Louisa Macdonell.
Louisa brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience, joining DTAS from Scottish Enterprise where she recently returned to after secondment to the UK Government as Head of Economic Development at the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Prior to working in the public sector, Louisa set up and ran several businesses, and has been a business mentor to the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Women in Business since 2014. She is also Entrepreneur in Residence at Edinburgh University Business School
Commenting on her new role Louisa said:
“I am delighted to be joining DTAS. With its great reputation for supporting community-led change at the grassroot level, DTAS and its members are at the forefront of local regeneration and place-making activity.
I know that it is the people within our communities who are our biggest assets and that development trusts are crucial to delivering sustainable, place-based change through community enterprise. I very much look forward to getting started, working with the terrific DTAS team and meeting and supporting our members.”
Louisa will take over in May from current Director Ian Cooke, who has been at the helm of DTAS since 2009.