Our volunteer groups have been getting out and about in Cumbernauld, dabbling in all sorts of practical conservation activities: scything meadows, removing nasty invasive plants and shortly we’ll be planting…
Unlocking community capacity
Our innovative Asset-Based Community Development Approach seeks to get to know people and build relationships with them; from this we can understand the existing assets and connect people who want to take action. This approach is built into all of the project activities and, to facilitate this in areas where engagement is traditionally low, we will link each Project Officer to a specific neighbourhood.
Developing skills and unlocking capacity is integrated into all our activities. We will seek to make connections between groups, organisations and initiatives that support environmental improvements and the local community, to avoid duplication and bring added value.
It is vital when working with communities to understand what is already there before supporting them to access the help they need. Our project focuses on Asset-Based Community Development Approach. Identifying the aspirations, skills and assets of individuals and connecting them to each other will be key to the sustainability and legacy of this project. Connecting people who care enough to make a difference in their neighbourhood creates a shared capacity that is greater than the sum of its parts and increases the resilience of individuals and projects.
Our research has shown that although there are many community groups within Cumbernauld they are not well connected and are predominantly made up of the older generation. Many members are active in multiple groups and find themselves spread too thinly. This has led to a limited pool of skills and abilities, reducing capacity within the groups and making communication between groups challenging. We have also learnt that although many residents don’t want to be part of an official group, they are keen to get together to discuss and deal with issues.
To unlock community capacity, we will first get to know people and understand what capacity already exists. We will get to know groups and individuals through personal conversations, focusing on what they are able to do rather than what they are unable to do. Through this we will create a community asset map to show the huge range of skills and potential and use it to stimulate and drive conversations.
Second, we will begin to create opportunities for engaged individuals and groups to come together and share their aspirations for their neighbourhood. We will create social opportunities and host conversations that focus on how we can all have an impact on our community. This will be complemented by volunteer opportunities, training and skills development to help people achieve their aims.
Finally, we will support individuals and groups to act on the things they most want to see happen, which may require support to access specific skills, advice from organisations or how to access funding or resources. This will be built on a foundation of what the community themselves can already do, thus unlocking and highlighting the intrinsic potential they have and developing projects in a sustainable way from the very beginning.