|Background to Community Development Trust Interest in Armadale|
The Beginning (2005)
In 2005, Voluntary Action West Lothian and West Lothian Council were successful in securing funding from the European Regional Development Fund to employ a Capacity Development Officer to work with local communities and groups within the CED area (Armadale, Blackburn, Fauldhouse, Greenrigg, Stoneyburn and Whitburn) to explore the feasibility of establishing Community Development Trusts (CDTs). Jayne Adamson was appointed as Capacity Development Officer.
Information Evening (April 2006)
From August 2005 to August 2006, the Capacity Development Officer organised meetings with individuals and local groups to promote the CDT concept. On Tuesday, 25 April 2006, a CDT Information Evening was held at the Hillcroft Hotel, Whitburn to promote the Capacity Development Project and to enable residents of the designated areas to obtain further information about CDTs.
The two speakers at the meeting were Angus Hardie, Director of Development Trust Association (DTA) Scotland, Archie Pacey, chairperson, and Lee Haxton, Development Worker, for Gorebridge Community Development Trust Steering Group.
Since this writer was not able to attend that Information Evening, details of the talks and response from some of the attendees have been taken from the CDT Report on that evening.
Angus Hardie: DTA Scotland was established in March 2003. This followed a period of consultation around Scotland, led by the Association of Small Towns in Scotland (ASTIS) and Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland (Senscot). ASTIS seek to revitalise the quality of life in small towns across Scotland, and saw the potential of development trusts as a means of furthering these objectives. Senscot, who are committed to promoting all forms of social enterprise, were able to offer practical development support during the initial phase. Further to the consultation, some seed corn funding was secured, which allowed a business plan to be drawn up and applications to be submitted for an initial three year funding package.
Key Objectives of the DTA Scotland:
Archie Pacey and Lee Haxton: Gorebridge Community Development Trust Steering Group was established in November 2003. Throughout the course of 2005, the Trust has continued to acquire and consolidate effective working relationships with various community and voluntary organisations in Gorebridge and across Midlothian. Gorebridge Community Development Trust focuses on the village of Gorebridge; however, larger scale projects and those involving neighbouring communities will also be pursued.
Gorebridge CDT aims to enhance the quality of life for all the people of Gorebridge and the surrounding area. To this end we shall take and support action to ensure sustainable development in the following fields:
GCDT seeks to account for the debt that we owe older generations, our responsibility to provide improved opportunities for young people and our obligation to build an even better future for all through community regeneration.
Information Evening Workshops' Outcome
86% of respondents believed that a CDT would make a difference to their community. Nearly 70% of respondents believed that the CDT would regenerate participation in the community and about 15% believe a CDT would help a community to resolve its local issues. One comment from an Armadale representative was: "Hopefully the start of something great."
40%-45% of respondents were worried that CDT proposals would be met with apathy.
15%-20% were worried that CDT proposals would encounter difficulties of funding and sustainability. One comment from an Armadale representative was: "If run by volunteers, would they be able to sustain the project and see it through?"
Positive outcomes from a CDT were seen as the opportunity to bring the community closer (an Armadalian commented it would "make people feel more part of the community") and the chance to help address local issues with local answers. Apart from community cohesion, participants hoped that a CDT improvements in local activities and facilities.
DTA Dundee Conference (June 2006)
As a result of the Information Evening and the Dundee Conference, Jayne Adamson organised attendance at the DTA conference in Dundee on Sunday 4th June and Monday 5th June. The conference proved to be an enlightening opportunity to speak to people whose develoopment trusts had transformed the quality of life of their local communities and had empowered and encouraged local people to play a more active role in their communties. There were a number of presentations by DTA members, but a particular presentation, by representatives of Wellhouse Community Trust, Glasgow, made a striking and inspirational impression on all who attended. Their presentation title: "Giving young people a voice and creating opportunities for them to become involved with the wider community has been crucial in our development" struck a chord with many listeners who believed that some of the ideas and ideals outlined were pertinent to their own communities.
CDT visits (July 2006)
Following the conference, two visits were arranged so that those interested in discovering more about CDTs. On Friday 21st July, a minibus of people was collected from Fauldhouse, Whitburn, and Armadale to visit the Wellhouse Community Trust in Glasgow, and the Coalburn Miners Welfare Charitable Society. The visits proved to be most enlightening in demonstrating how differently DTA methods had been used to address the particular needs of the two communities that were visited. More information / contact addresses about the two places can be found here: Coalburn and Wellhouse
CDT 'Steering Group' Meeting (August 2006)
Following the visits, a meeting was organised, entitled 'Community Development Trust - The Next Step', which took place on 2nd August at Armadale Community Centre. A small group of interested individuals discussed the impact made by the visits and the necessity to address some of the perceived needs of the community, particularly the development of youth provision in the town. The term 'Steering Group' was applied to the group who met, but no official structure was decided upon at that time. However, it was agreed to collect and disseminate information.
Update: Minutes of this meeting were received from a Community Councillor on Thursday 9th November. [Please note that the minutes had not been seen or approved by the group that attended the August CDT meeting.] The minutes sheet recorded that the issues highlighted by the 'steering group' as needing attention could be classified under four groups: young people, shopping facilities, community spirit and bigotry. Comments quoted from responses included:
Groups were identified, which should be asked to join the CDT/Steering Group to take the concept forward within Armadale [eventually - RW's addition for clarification]:
Representatives of local organisations; Doctor/GP; Councillors; PTA/School Board; Community Centre Management Committee; Community Police; Local Business Community; Community Councillors; Youth Representatives; Residents Associations; Religious Groups; Youth Leaders; Community Education Officer.
Not included in the minutes: The 'steering group' agreed to encourage others (i.e. those known to be interested) to participate. RW agreed to update the Armadale website to reflect Armadale's society of groups, clubs and associations. There was no indication that local organisations should be contacted at this stage.
After the August meeting, Jayne Adamson contacted members of the group to let them know of her imminent departure. There was no indication that she thought that the group should have been involved in target group contact as we had no co-ordinator to move matters forward.
CDT 'Steering Group' Meeting (1st November 2006)
Following the end of Jayne Adamson contract and her departure, Stuart Borrowman agreed to 'hold the fort' and called a meeting of the steering group at Armadale Academy on Wednesday 1st November. Four of those who were present at August's meeting were able to attend. Others present included interested observers and Sharon Houston, who outlined the formalisation of a CDT and provided the meeting with an example of the type of memorandum and articles of association that would be needed. (Visit this page to see the paperwork. Please note that the objectives of an Armadale document were still being drafted ready for discussion at the next meeting.)
Discussion centred on concerns over youth provision in the town and the need to address that as a matter of priority. Rosie Wells agreed to act as an interim chair so that preparatory activities could be co-ordinated and interested people notified. The meeting agreed that a public meeting to ratify the proposed document should be called. (At the time, that seems likely to be called late in November.)
Community Council Meeting (9th November 2006) Statement as a result of the meeting:
"Following my attendance at tonight's Community Council meeting, it has become apparent that my agreement to co-ordinate efforts towards the setting up of a CDT for Armadale is not tenable when so many factions are in disagreement and essential paperwork, and therefore vital information, is not shared.
Having declined the offer of being nominated for a Community Councillor's position, and being made aware that my nomination last week as chairperson of the CDT steering committee was not acceptable to those present, thereby negating my ability to act effectively, I have taken the decision (regretfully) to stand down.
I understand that two Community Councillors are happy to stand for nomination to the Steering Committee and I believe that Alex Horne, Community Council Chairman, will be communicating with Sharon Houston and Councillor Graeme Morrice about his offering his services to lead the next step, probably calling a public meeting to discuss issues relating to the establishment of a Steering Committee.
I am saddened that such a worthwhile movement has become embroiled in political bickering. I can only hope that Armadale learns from this experience and that the children of the town, who desperately need alternative youth provision, are acknowledged, eventually, as human beings and not as political footballs.
9th November 2006
Thursday 15th February 2007: A
public meeting was held at Armadale Community Centre to discuss the setting up of an official Steering
Group for a Community Development Trust in Armadale.
Although the weather was stormy, the meeting was well attended by
Cllr Stuart Borrowman, MSPs Mary Mulligan and Fiona Hyslop, as well as members
of the public. Wendy Reid of the Development Trust Association (Scotland)
gave a free-ranging discussion and answered questions on what a Development
Trust is. At the end of the meeting, it was deemed to be a good idea with
several people pointing out that 'Armadale needs something' even if that
something is not yet defined clearly. Volunteers to join the Steering
Group were called for and a Steering Group was formed.
Although the weather was stormy, the meeting was well attended by Cllr Stuart Borrowman, MSPs Mary Mulligan and Fiona Hyslop, as well as members of the public. Wendy Reid of the Development Trust Association (Scotland) gave a free-ranging discussion and answered questions on what a Development Trust is. At the end of the meeting, it was deemed to be a good idea with several people pointing out that 'Armadale needs something' even if that something is not yet defined clearly. Volunteers to join the Steering Group were called for and a Steering Group was formed.
Update March 2007
The Steering Group has met twice since the public meeting. At the first meeting, it was decided to call the group Armadale Community Trust (ACT) and to bend all efforts to promote the group, raising awareness of what it is trying to do, and also raising awareness of the group itself.
All reporting on Armadale Community Trust (ACT) plans and activities will appear in future on: