Development Trusts are Transforming Scottish Communities

Development trusts are transforming Scottish communities
Third Force News, by Susan Smith


People who are taking control of the development of their own communities in Scotland have a positive impact on the lives of their neighbours and make a strong contribution to the local economy.


This is the finding of a report released by Education Scotland in partnership with the Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS).
The report follows an assessment of three Scottish Development Trusts, which were set up by people in local communities to encourage regeneration and the development of their areas. 


Commenting on the publication of the reports, director of DTAS Ian Cooke said: “DTAS was delighted to work with Education Scotland on this pilot study to identify and measure the impact of development trusts, the results of which have been extremely positive. Sampling three very different DTAS members, the independent study confirmed our own experience of the positive and multi-faceted impact which development trusts have on the lives of the people within the communities in which they operate. We were particularly pleased to see evidence of the, strong contribution which the development trusts in question made to local economies, and to the Scottish Government’s place-making agenda.


“The outcomes from this study reflect the hard work and commitment of the trusts involved, but has a wider significance for the community-led regeneration network as a whole.”


It is great to see some recognition of the wider impact and effectiveness of development trusts and community-led regeneration. Convenor of Mull and Iona Community Trust and chair of DTA Scotland Sandy Brunton said: “It is very easy to become entirely focused on the delivery of projects and forget why such projects were introduced in the first place, and taking part in the pilot presented us with an invaluable opportunity to look at what MICT has achieved and accomplished over the past 19 years. We are delighted that our community engagement and involvement has been highlighted as a key strength of the organisation as two of our key aims are to build community cohesion and reduce social isolation.


“Looking beyond MICT, it is great to see some recognition of the wider impact and effectiveness of development trusts and community-led regeneration. This is especially pertinent when you take into consideration the current economic environment and fact that so many essential services and facilities are now being provided by development trusts. As development trust work is mostly achieved using volunteer labour and time, it is gratifying to have an opportunity to demonstrate just how effective this is."


Richard Hammock, Chair of Huntly & District Development Trust (HDDT) said: “When we were established in 2009, HDDT sought to work with others to build an inclusive, enterprising, resilient community capable of dealing with ongoing change. As a board, we welcomed the opportunity to be able to pause and reflect on HDDT’s achievements to date as well as identifying actions and development opportunities for the future.”


Sheila Brown, HMI, from Education Scotland’s Community Learning & Development Team said: “Education Scotland was keen to work with DTAS and the three Development Trusts as part of our programme of trying out different methods of inspection and review activity. The reviews of the Development Trusts has given us a rich source of evaluative evidence about the work of the sector in Scotland.”