Big Lottery Fund

SCOTTISH towns and cities can learn from the experience of rural communities like Harris and Gigha  by taking control of community assets which meet local needs, Jackie Killeen, the Acting Scotland Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said today (18th March).

At an event in Glasgow Ms Killeen pledged BIG’s support to communities across the country to enable them to develop community-led local services as part of the Lottery distributor’s plans for a  multi million pound investment over the next four years.

Over the past ten years the BIG Lottery Fund has supported a range of communities across Scotland to acquire and develop their own assets through its Scottish Land Fund and Growing Community Assets programmes.

“These projects have ranged from helping to ensure the long term sustainability of the only shop and post office in Uig on the Isle of Lewis, including the introduction of renewable energy sources, to purchasing and redeveloping a former bank in Neilston, Glasgow to provide a community and small business hub,” said Miss Killeen.

“These projects work because local people themselves are best placed to identify what their own community needs to develop. Our job is to support them in doing this, not just through awarding funds, but also by using our experience of supporting communities through the Scottish Land Fund and Growing Community Assets programmes over the last decade.

“In the last few years, the biggest area of growth we’ve seen in this area is from urban areas, but we know we still have work to do to build on the success shown to date by rural communities. That’s why we’ve brought together a range of different projects from across the country as well as experts like DTA and SURF to see what lessons we can learn from each other and build for the future. One thing is clear. There is huge untapped potential in Scotland’s towns and cities for developing community assets."

Ms Kileen pointed to recent examples where the council, gifted or sold  assets at reduced cost to enable community groups to take ownership of former council buildings.

“It’s clear that Lottery funding should be used to directly help communities and people most in need. It’s our job to ensure we get the best value for Scottish communities out of the Lottery pound, and if communities are able to secure assets at low or no cost, then more of BIG’s funds can go into the development of these assets for community benefit. In Glasgow, for example, the Maryhill Burgh Halls and the Whiteinch Centre both received funding from our Growing Community Assets scheme after Glasgow City Council gifted them ownership of assets. We believe that other local authorities could learn from this and we’ll  be there to provide funding and support to get projects off the ground.”