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News

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: Friday 05th January, 2024

DTAS Debates Launch: Local Democracy           

Julia Rolim - DTAS Research and Insights Intern

The end of November marked the launch of our new members-only event series, DTAS Debates. This new event series aims to be a space where DTAS members can come together to discuss the issues affecting development trusts and share grassroots practices developed in response to those issues.

Pauline Smith, DTAS CEO, says:

“I’m delighted that we’re launching DTAS Debates, providing valuable opportunities for dialogue with our members and wider community-led organisations. Together, as a member-led network, I want DTAS Debates to delve into the big topics that are impacting the future of development trusts, and our communities across Scotland. This is a chance to think big, debate issues, voice concerns, share ideas, and ultimately shape the future vision for communities in Scotland, and influence developments within the shifting policy landscape of Scotland.”

The first event took local democracy as its core topic for discussion, including the relevance of the Scottish Government's Democracy Matters 2 policy agenda to development trusts. Our guiding question was: 'What does locally relevant decision-making look like?'. In addition to providing an open space for discussion, this session sought to gather members' views and experiences with Democracy Matters 2 to inform the DTAS consultation response and position on the issue. Despite only lasting 1 hour and a half, the event yielded extensive information, opinions, challenges, and good practice examples.  

Our four panellists were Tom Sneddon (Carluke DT), Anna Bliss-Davis (Stronsay DT), Scott Mackay (Midsteeple Quarter), and Willie Sullivan (Electoral Reform Society Scotland). They briefly overviewed their experiences, challenges, and innovative approaches to local democracy in their communities. Then, the floor opened for participants to ask questions, raise issues, and discuss actions in their communities.  

Members highlighted common barriers faced when practising local democracy in their communities, with many explicitly citing an uncollaborative relationship between development trusts and local authorities and the perception of development trusts as 'risky' organisations. Funding, especially core funding, was another critical issue discussed, with members stating that DM2 must come with adequate resources, funding, and a statutory basis to empower communities and the challenges that can come with devolved funding. Other core topics covered included:

  • Digital democracy.
  • Improving consultation processes.
  • Involving young people.
  • Ensuring development trusts represent their communities.
  • Alternative models for local democracy.
  • Engaging with community councils and other community bodies. 

The next DTAS Debates event will be on the hotly debated issue of Community Benefit Funding from renewable energy installations. CLICK HERE to register and keep an eye out for subsequent announcements!

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

FOR MORE INFO AND TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-host-a-democracy-matters-community-conversation-tickets-732641098247?aff=oddtdtcreator

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 info@dtascot.org.uk.

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!

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