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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.

 

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!

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.

DTAS Community Wealth Building Blog

Posted on: Tuesday 16th May, 2023

Centring the community in Community Wealth Building

Laura Worku - DTA Scotland Development Officer

The Scottish Government’s consultation on Community Wealth Building (CWB) closed last week, and DTAS welcomed the opportunity to respond on behalf of our members. We view CWB as highly relevant for our member network, and our work supporting community ownership and democratic finance. This came through strongly in the membership survey we carried out. 

It is a sad indictment of our current economic system that CWB is necessary - currently the system enables ‘community wealth extraction’ and concentrates wealth, and land in fewer and fewer hands. Our members often feel that they are fighting this system and clearing up behind it. So, it is vital that we have a programme of economic transformation through CWB and a range of other policy measures, to create an economic system which delivers on our aspirations for a wellbeing economy and builds on what our members are already doing in their communities in both rural and urban settings. This would allow them to move away from some of the activities necessary to clean up behind a broken economic system, to activities which generate and keep wealth locally and are regenerative for the environment and the community. We would also advocate for a broader definition of wealth, to include social, cultural and ecological wealth (or capital) alongside economic wealth – aligning with the broad goals of a wellbeing economy and a just transition. 

DTAS is committed to the kind of economic democracy embodied by our members – who are all community led and run - and supports a shift to a more democratic, resilient and community driven economy with a more distributed pattern of land/asset and business ownership, and access to a wider range of democratic finance initiatives. Many of our members consider that they are already delivering on one or more of the CWB pillars in their roles as community anchor organisations and will welcome the opportunity to deepen and broaden their practice and impact and connect it with new initiatives emerging in the public and private sectors.

Recognising that this is a model of economic development, nonetheless, one of our key points is that communities must be centred in Community Wealth Building. CWB as a framework is relevant at the national scale, has predominantly been located at local authority level in the UK, but must work for and be led by communities. This must look like true collaboration and a trust-based partnership of equals between the public sector and community anchors, not tokenistic consultation, or competition for resources. 

To build a local economic democracy, we need deep democratic renewal, bringing economic and political decision making much closer to people and communities. Our members are a good example of local democracy in action, are democratic by nature and can respond directly to the needs and aspirations of their communities. The long-delayed process of Local Governance Reform is vital here.

A new duty to implement CWB must be matched by investment in secure funding for the third sector, whether that is through increased community ownership of productive assets to create a secure funding base, or more secure core grant funding; and an investment in capacity building to enable the third sector to build the capabilities needed to engage more deeply in their local economies. 

National initiatives to support the process of culture change and embed a culture of collective leadership is required to bring about the changes needed to underpin the implementation of a CWB duty. 

CWB must be properly contextualised to work in the economic, social, cultural and historical contexts found across Scotland, particularly in our rural and island communities, to be truly a national initiative.

There must be effective accountability in place and that’s why DTAS supports the development of a Community Wealth Building Commission, with a paid Commissioner to drive forward embedding CWB across multiple policy areas, and oversee implementation, in a similar way that the Scottish Land Commission has operated in recent years. 

We recognise a tension between hope for a framework which, if implemented well, and with bravery, could offer our members and the wider sector the kind of radical economic change which will create foundations for sustainable, thriving and resilient communities; and a sense too that communities have been promised much before but progress has, particularly in economic transformation, been incremental. We try to hold both of those viewpoints in balance, recognising the opportunity that CWB brings whilst holding the past experiences of and challenges faced by our members which impact on their ability to engage.

You can find DTAS’ full consultation response published here.

If you want to discuss our response, please get in touch laura@dtascot.org.uk

We will be publishing a summary of our CWB member survey in the near future.

DTA Scotland - Blog Post

Posted on: Monday 13th March, 2023

DEMOCRATIC FINANCE - AN AMBITIOUS NEW PROGRAMME

Morven Lyon - Community Shares Scotland Programme Manager

For some communities across Scotland, money and wealth are considered taboo subjects. Any mention of finance, investment or growth can swiftly shut down a conversation. There is a feeling, amongst many folk, that these terms, and this world of finance, just does not belong to them. Finance and funding models are too often viewed as external or elitist and wealth is concentrated in too few hands. 

We firmly believe that this needs to change and that democratic finance is the best vehicle to bring about this change. Therefore, the Development Trusts Association Scotland, in partnership with Scottish Communities Finance Ltd, is developing an ambitious programme focused on increased knowlegde and use of democratic finance models that will result in more money circulating within communities for greater public benefit.

Our Democratic Finance programme will demonstrate that money can and should be generated, owned and controlled by the community. We want communities to not only better understand their sources of wealth, but also to retain more of that wealth and have more say in how it is used. Our aim is a change to the economic system itself through increased use of finance and funding models that build a new level of economic democracy.

Our Community Shares Scotland programme has proven the many strengths of citizen investment in community led enterprises. By supporting local people and organisations to invest in projects through community shares, wealth is retained and boosted within communities. This investment (£19 million in community shares raised to date) in turn drives mutual confidence and agency, unlocking support and investment from other previously closed off sources. This can include attracting investment from external sources, albeit with protections in place to ensure that the community has a say in how it is controlled and spent.

Since 2018, Scottish Communities Finance Ltd has championed community bonds as a new form of democratic finance for community and social enterprises across Scotland. Offering a unique model, it has assisted organisations seeking finance for renewable energy, new builds and business development and growth.

Building on the huge success and ethos of both Community Shares Scotland and Scottish Communities Finance, this programme will focus on increased knowledge and use of financial models that generate and capture wealth within a community. These financial models are particularly pertininent as we attempt to move away from grant dependency. We will initially focus on exploring the following models:

  • Using democratic finance to grow community shared ownership of renewable energy developments across Scotland
  • More productive local use of income from renewable energy developments - including exploring investment opportunities alongside grant giving
  • Piloting a Scottish Community Shares Booster programme to grow the community shares market in harder to reach communities and sectors. This will be based on the good practice and success of the English Community Shares Booster
  • Increasing awareness and use of community bonds and other more affordable and flexible debt options
  • Developing and piloting community-based legacy gifting
  • Creating a more coordinated system of High-Net-Worth philanthropic giving at a grassroots community level
  • Awareness raising and support for organisations to utilise community lotteries
  • Better awareness and use of common good funds and assets
  • Expanding donation-based crowdfunding
  • Promoting more cross community and cross sectoral investment via democratic finance instruments

The programme will also include a capacity building strand – focused on raising awareness of democratic finance models, both with communities and with third sector intermediaries. We will also champion a collaborative approach, bringing in sectoral expertise from other intermediaries where needed.

Our Democratic Finance Programme clearly links to the fourth finance pillar of the Community Wealth Building agenda. This finance pillar specifies that flows of investment and financial institutions should work for local people, communities, and businesses. DTAS, through our Democratic Finance programme, aims to lead on this pillar on the ground – ensuring that the theory is made practical and that communities benefit directly.

Keen to know more or to get involved? We’d be delighted to hear from you. Get in touch via morven@communitysharesscotland.org.uk.

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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.

www.dtascommunityownership.org.uk

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www.communitysharesscotland.org.uk

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