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Catch up on the latest happenings across Scotland's inspiring development trust network, from impact stories to upcoming events near you.


DTA Scotland Blog

Posted on: Thursday 02nd November, 2023

The Start of My DTAS Journey             

Felix Richardson - DTA Scotland Research and Insights Intern
I recently joined DTAS as one of the Research and Insights Interns in September this year. Over the next year with my colleague Julia, I’m going to be working on a range of different projects aimed at better understanding what DTAS’ can do to improve their own work in supporting members whilst exploring different avenues of research relevant to the development trust movement. 

My introduction to my new role was attending the second day of the Annual Conference at Glasgow Caledonian University. I was blown away by the inspiring work which communities across Scotland are doing and to hear the innovative ideas people have to improve local life for them and their neighbours. From Soren Hermansen's uplifting story of Samsø to an introduction on Community Wealth Building, it is fair to say, my brain was bursting with all the incredible work which comes out of community development! 

Since then, I’ve been settling into the office and introduced to the full DTAS staff. In the last month, I have been understanding how DTAS supports and represents its members whilst finding out some of the ins and outs of the community development sector. Julia’s and my main workload currently has been analysing the survey sent out to DTAS members a few months ago. This is going to be an exciting piece of work on the membership of the organisation and the emerging trends within the development trust movement. Additionally, Julia and I have got to be involved in understanding our members’ thoughts on the Scottish Government’s consultation on Community Wealth Building and we are in the process of setting up our new event, DTAS Debates with the first one coming on the 29th of November. It’s been a busy time for sure!

I’ve been lucky enough to have gone on a couple of visits to different development trusts in the last few weeks: along with Alice and Julia, we visited a couple of groups engaged in the Strengthening Communities Program in the Northeast. Getting tours to both Abriachan Forest Trust and Stratherrick and Foyers Development Trust were fantastic opportunities to see organisations in action providing unique services for the good of their communities! Seeing the groups in person really brought home the diverse range of members that DTAS supports and the incredible motivation which groups have in striving for better lives for local people.

Last week I went along with the Community Shares Scotland team for their Community Shares Practitioner meet up in Findhorn talking first to Ekopia and then on to Drumnadrochit, listening to presentations from Glenurquhart Rural Community Association and Glengarry Community Woodlands. Along with shares practitioners from across the UK, we got to hear the different successes, stories and setbacks involved in making community share offers. Getting a contrast in all the groups’ experience in making share offers illustrated the potential of raising funds from within communities. 

In summary, my time at DTAS has been nothing short of varied! I have loved getting to grips with Scottish community development as well as constantly learning about the incredible work of our members. I am very excited for what the year ahead holds!


Webinar - How to host a Democracy Matters community conversation

Thursday, 9 November, 2023 - 19:00 to 20:45


Democracy Matters 2 Launch

Posted on: Monday 28th August, 2023
Tom Arthur MSP speaking at an event at the Linlithgow Community Hub to launch Democracy Matters 2

The Scottish Government today launched the second phase of its Democracy Matters conversation at one of our members – Linlithgow Community Development Trust. The launch was attended by the Community Wealth Minister, Tom Arthur MSP and the Local Government Empowerment Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, as well as COSLA President, Councillor Shona Morrison, and COSLA Community Wellbeing spokesperson, Councillor Maureen Chalmers. DTAS welcomes the commitment made to more decisions being made locally and this next round of consultation.

The original Democracy Matters conversation, in what feels like a different world pre-Covid, established that there was the appetite for more democratic control at local levels. People want to have a say over what happens in their communities and the next phase of this conversation is to discuss and propose what the powers, processes, structures and accountability might look like for this to work. 

DTAS is delighted to have jointly received funding from the Scottish Government to work in partnership with the Scottish Community Development Centre to deliver a series of events to engage our members and networks in this process. 

Over the next 6 months, we will jointly deliver 3 national online events, and 8 deep dive facilitated conversations hosted in communities. We will also promote the Scottish Government’s self-facilitation materials across our membership and support members who want to make use of them in their places.

Please head over to our dedicated Democracy Matters 2 landing page where we’ll share links to booking for national events and information about the locations chosen for the deep dive conversations as those become available. 

You can find more information here about the consultation and opportunities and funding to facilitate your own discussion.  

28 August 2023

DTAS Annual General Meeting 2023

Wednesday, 30 August, 2023 - 09:30 to 10:00

The DTAS AGM is taking place on Wednesday 30th August 2023 at 9.30am at Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow.

The following AGM papers are below:
- Agenda
- Minutes of 2022 AGM
- DTAS consolidated accounts to 31st March 2023
- Appointment of the Board of Trustees for 2023-24 including trustee profiles

The AGM is part of the DTAS conference running from 29th-30th August 2023. Bookings are now closed. If you wish to attend the AGM only, please contact

PDF icon Item 1 - AGM 2023 Agenda, PDF icon Item 3 - 2022 AGM Minutes, PDF icon Item 4 - DTAS consolidated full accounts, PDF icon Item 5 - AGM 2023 Board Appointment 2023-24

DTA Scotland Blog

Posted on: Tuesday 25th July, 2023

Supporting the Workforce: A Year On               

Amy Punton - DTA Scotland Wellbeing & Events Coordinator

Employee wellbeing has become an important topic in recent years, particularly following the pandemic. Employees value their work life balance more than ever and aspire to be part of an organisation that values them and their work. 

In January 2022, DTAS had seen a lot of organisational change after Covid resulting in lack of motivation and low morale. We wanted to understand if colleagues felt valued in their work and prioritise wellbeing to ensure staff felt supported. With a lot of staff working remotely, we recognised that some found it difficult to engage informally with colleagues and that sense of togetherness had been lost.
We set out to gauge the general feeling about working at DTAS, exploring whether there were any underlying issues that were preventing attendance to the office now that Covid rules had relaxed. We created an anonymous survey that contained thought-provoking questions allowing honest and open answers. By April, we had collated the survey results and highlighted the main areas that needed to be addressed:

- Change Management
o Ensuring that organisational change is communicated effectively and staff are kept updated and informed.
- Overall Wellbeing
o Promoting and encouraging positive mental and physical wellbeing.
- Flexible Working
o Encouraging flexible working where possible, ensuring it is communicated effectively.
- DTAS Office
o Encouraging collaboration and socialisation as well as providing quiet working areas to best meet the needs of the organisation and staff.
Following the survey feedback, we’ve spent the last 18 months implementing change to prioritise employee wellbeing, ensuring that staff are supported and their opinions are heard.

- Communicating and explaining change
- Facilitating a staff-led wellbeing focus group
- Introducing a wellbeing budget
- Producing new and amending existing policies

o Including our brand-new Wellbeing Statement!
- Organising engaging social gatherings
- Facilitating focused staff training sessions and workshops
- Refreshing the DTAS office

Since implementing these changes, we’ve found that the overall culture at DTAS has improved incredibly. After another more recent anonymous survey, we found that the results had drastically improved with 90% of staff stating they enjoy working at DTAS, noting the improvement in organisational culture, morale and wellbeing.

But the work doesn’t stop here… After seeing the incredible improvement these changes have made, we recognise the importance of continuing to prioritise employee wellbeing, listening to our teams and ensuring their opinions are heard.

We believe the work never stops with wellbeing, there’s always something you can improve on, especially since the term ‘wellbeing’ means something different to everyone. The new survey produced some really helpful feedback and we’ve set ourselves more challenges to work on over the next 12 months. We hope to set an example to our network of amazing organisations, emphasising that prioritising employee wellbeing can be really beneficial for the workforce. We will be facilitating a workshop at this year’s DTAS Annual Conference that we hope will give a little insight into how we’ve improved our workplace culture and how others can begin to do the same!

DTA Scotland Monthly Blog

Posted on: Wednesday 28th June, 2023

It's a tough job, but can it get any easier?

Pauline Smith - DTA Scotland Chief Executive

From my experience of working in a development trust for many years, my first year in this job and for many of my close colleagues in the third sector,  I felt compelled to write this blog and wanted to start by saying ‘Well done!’  Well done and thank you to all the managers, staff and voluntary Board members that work so hard on a daily basis to make improvements in the communities that they live in.

Sometimes it can feel like an uphill struggle when you are working within a community and you are often the go to person for complaints or issues that people are facing or need help with.  In addition, you aim to be as inclusive as possible and that means consulting and including as many of the community as possible, which is challenging on occasions.  But it’s all worth it when you take the time to remember all that you have helped achieve, the people you have supported and all that you are striving to do.  Do you make time to remember and reflect?

The answer in most cases is no, you are so busy doing the job.  It is probably hard to even remember a day that you went in to work with a plan and it went to plan.  That said, it’s why you love what you do, isn’t it?  Every day is different and anything is possible within a development trust: local people striving and succeeding to make physical, social and economic differences.

You aren’t doing it for personal profit, it’s definitely not because you’re being paid a huge salary or maybe you’re not paid at all (something that I’ll speak about in another blog).  You aren’t doing it for a stress-free life and a good night’s sleep and you aren’t doing it just 9 to 5!   It is because it’s exciting, it’s rewarding and it’s vital to communities across Scotland, but it is a tough job and I want to make sure that all of this work is recognised, celebrated and for DTAS to find ways to make it a bit easier.

I was recently talking to someone who said that their organisation didn’t need a new Chief Executive to develop the organisation, because they’d reached a stage where they just needed to maintain the organisation as it was.  A great position to be in but this wasn’t a community organisation, so it got me thinking – when does a development trust reach a point where it isn’t developing or isn’t supporting people with evolving needs or when the community doesn’t need anything further? Is there ever a point where enough is enough and the job at the top gets a bit easier? 

Of course, I recognise that every community is different and so answers will be different but from my experience of working in an area that was classed as high deprivation - there is always something else that needs to be developed.  What that means is funding applications need to be filled in, development and financial plans need written, volunteers & staff recruited, training delivered, consultations completed and the list goes on.   Worth it when you get it done but my point is that along with the continued development is the continued form filling and pressure to succeed, often where others have failed.  

If communities are going to continue developing, we need to work hard to find the solutions to make the job easier: long term investment in community infrastructures, improved decision-making powers on a local level, easier asset transfer processes, a clearer funding landscape and alternative finance options, community wealth building, evidence of the economic impact that development trusts have in Scotland and much more!  

Development trusts (and other community orgs) prove daily what can be achieved and therefore we need to do more to make that journey simpler and reduce the stress on Boards and staff within the sector.  Can it get easier?   It has to and I’m looking forward to helping make those changes.

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The Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) is funded by the Scottish Government to support community based groups in Scotland take a stake in or ownership of previously publicly owned land or buildings.

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