Who We Are
Who we are
The Scottish Community Alliance is leading the campaign for a strong and independent community sector in Scotland. It was initiated in Jan 2007 by an informal coalition of four national networks: Development Trust Association Scotland, Community Woodlands Association, Community Recycling Network Scotland and Senscot. We called this informal coalition Local People Leading. Each of these organisations serves community based memberships and together they share a vision of an empowered and independent community sector. Since 2007, Local People Leading was joined by a growing number of networks with community based memberships. Towards the end of 2010, These networks agreed to formalise LPL and rename itself - The Scottish Community Alliance.
Those networks that were involved in setting up LPL took the view at the time that creating a separate organisation would have as many disadvantages as benefits. The intention is that LPL should be seen as a 'wrapper' or 'kite mark' which denotes certain shared beliefs, values and intentions - the way the Fairtrade kitemark works. As a campaign to empower communities, LPL was not something distinct from the work already undertaken by participating bodies but served as a joining of forces. Admin functions (management of staff, finance etc) were carried out by a nominated lead organisation (DTA Scotland) - the accountable body. Now that relationships between these networks have had time to develop and for levels of trust to build up between them, it was felt that the time was right to formalise the arrangement by constituting the organisation and renaming it the Scottish Community Alliance.
Strategic direction for the Alliance comes from community sector networks
Specific activities like recycling - childcare - woodlands - transport etc have created their own national intermediaries to connect and support a membership of community groups. Similarly particular structures like Development Trusts - Housing Associations - Credit Unions etc have formed national umbrella organisations for their members. Through these various networks, the more organised activities of the community sector becomes visible and therefore 'connectable'. Those currently with an active role are:
- EVH (Employers in Voluntary Housing)
- Community Energy Scotland
- Community Recycling Network for Scotland
- Community Retailing Network
- Community Transport Association
- Community Woodlands Association
- Development Trusts Association Scotland
- GWSF (Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of HAs)
- Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society
- SLCU (Scottish League of Credit Unions)
- Senscot (Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland)
- Transition Scotland
The Scottish Community Alliance takes the view that as a result of the centralist policies of national and local governments over the last 20 years - local democracy in the UK is at a low ebb. We believe that the cornerstone for developing a more sustainable, inclusive and democratic society is for communities to have more control and responsibility for issues that matter most locally. All across the country there are examples of communities which have organised for their own empowerment. The vision we share is of a vigorous community sector, able to engage in a new relationship between the state, community organisations and citizens.
What we do
Our overarching aim is to help the community sector in Scotland to develop its own distinct identity and voice so that it can campaign effectively on a wide range of issues. We see our work as having two main perspectives: promoting the work and achievements of local communities and influencing national policy development.
The Alliance connects and advances these two aspects of our work through regular 'e-mail briefings' and our linked website. We also host occasional events for face to face dialogue between supporters.
What do we mean by the term 'community sector'
We are part of the wider Third Sector, and so community organisations are all volunteer-led and non profit distributing. Our sector is made up of local groups and organisations whose purpose is to take action on issues that matter to local people. These organisations relate to communities of place and their activities are defined by the communities they serve.
The community sector makes a unique and significant contribution to the well-being of many Scottish communities and to the wider economy. We are involved in a highly diverse range of activities. These include transport, recycling, affordable childcare, employment and skills training, credit unions, financial inclusion services, care of vulnerable citizens, provision of recreation facilities, purchase and management of land for the benefit of the community, affordable housing for low-income households, the development of commercial and social buildings such as local shops and workspaces, producing renewable energy and allotments, community gardens, orchards and woodlands.
The following is an illustration of the scale and significance of our work:
- 128 community based recycling organisations across the whole of Scotland
- Employing 1,166FTE staff; 2,275 volunteer placements; 1300 training placements
- Assisting over 100,000 people each year with free or low cost furniture, particularly those affected by homelessness.
- Preventing 73,000 tonnes of ‘waste’ going to landfill and prevent the emission of 164,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Community-controlled social housing
- 70 community-owned housing associations and co-operatives in the west of Scotland, providing affordable housing for around 60,000 low-income households.
- 18,000 people are shareholding members of their local community-controlled housing organisation, with more than 800 local volunteers serving on management committees and boards
- Annual turnover in the region of £160 million of income, all of which is spent or re-invested in local communities.
Credit unions and financial inclusion services
- 31 Credit Unions across Scotland
- Members' saving - £25 million
- Providing £18 of low cost loans
- Serving 35,000 members
- Over 250 community transport operators in Scotland provide over 2.6 million passenger journeys to over 100,000 people
- Employing some 650 people and supported by approximately 4500 volunteers
- The network of community transport operators have a “fleet” of over 2000 vehicles
- Approximately 200 community woodland groups across Scotland
- Own, leasing or managing over 20,000 ha, from small urban woods to large upland plantations
- Receiving hundreds of thousands of recreational visits each year, hosting hundreds of training and educational events, protecting some of Scotland's most precious biodiversity, producing woodfuel and developing habitat networks to limit and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Community gardens, allotments and farms
- 170 community run gardens, allotments and city farm
- Employing 150 people and engaging 1000’s of volunteer
- Attracting approximately150,000 visitors
Generating annual turnover of £3m
- 600 communities across Scotland developing renewable energy projects
- Accessing approximately £10m in grants
- CO2 savings - 11119.9 tonnes (as at October 2010)
- Energy saved - 31.9 GWh (as at October 2010)
- Scope of work covers larger scale developments (revenue generating projects) and micro renewable projects (facilities projects)