This unique service, which brings together the skills and talents of over 100 employees, has attracted considerable national interest from other local authorities, Health and Social Care Partnerships and major funders. This is due to its innovative and often life-changing approach to service development and delivery, empowering members of our communities, young and old, to live happy, healthy, connected and fulfilling lives.
We were recently visited by Mr Cormac Russell from Nurture Development. Cormac travels the world over and is a leader in promoting assets based community development and the importance of community connections. He came to speak to our Head of Housing and Communities, Katie Kelly who has led the establishment and development of Vibrant Communities and believes passionately in putting people at the heart of everything we do.
Watch the short clip of Cormac meeting Katie to find out more about our vision for Vibrant Communities.
East Ayrshire Council’s Vibrant Communities Service has been up and running since April 2013 and its impact on local people and communities in that short period of time has been far-reaching.
We have provided a range of keynote presentations and workshops at national conferences and events and the Vibrant Communities approach is being widely recognised as informing the Community Empowerment agenda across Scotland and the UK.
The story so far
Download our story so far and find out what's next for Vibrant Communities.
Take a look at what Vibrant Communities means to local people living in East Ayrshire – a short clip or our longer film
Whole council approach
The Vibrant Communities Service is working with all other Council services to ensure a consistent approach. This includes presentations and workshops to employee teams about asset based approaches and positive practice.
Developing our workforce
Workforce development is an integral part of what we do. We are holding regular development sessions for all Vibrant Communities employees, working to strengths, and encouraging a learning culture. We are taking a cohesive approach to identifying and addressing workforce development needs and to changing culture.
Vibrant Communities works with, rather than for, communities. The aim is to change culture and unlock the knowledge, skills and experience of local people and employees, to harness the enthusiasm, talent and 'can do' spirit that exists across East Ayrshire.
Early intervention and prevention
Vibrant Communities builds on existing work in Lifestyle Development and Wellbeing, Support for Older People, Play, Activity and Early Intervention, Sport and Diversion and Active Schools. There is a strong focus on
co-producing sustainable solutions with individuals and communities, ensuring a person-centred and strength-focused approach. This work builds on strong foundations and includes innovative and evidence-based programmes.
Support for older people
This includes direct delivery and co-ordination of programmes in supported accommodation for older people, the Invigor8 falls management programme, home-based rehabilitation and enablement activities and the development of sustainable social networks and opportunities for older people. The programme is focused upon sustaining independence amongst older people, supporting them to stay safe and well in their own homes for longer and adding healthy years to life.
Play activity and early intervention
We deliver early interventions and services to vulnerable children and families. This includes the home and community-based play and activity referral programme in partnership with Social Work - Children and Families, the MEND childhood obesity programme, delivery of support and mentoring services for looked after and accommodated young people and the provision of prison play services to develop bonding between fathers in Bowhouse Prison and their children.
Young people, sport, diversion and Active Schools
This redesigned service brings together the well-established sports diversion work including streetsport cages, mobile skate park and streetsport express with the existing youth services. We provide a responsive and integrated service which can be deployed to local communities in conjunction with other community planning partners and in response to local need.
This service focuses on building capacity and a range of social networks, including sports clubs, uniformed organisations and other youth related bodies.
There will be clear emphasis on developing active citizenship, youth achievement and training, links to employability, enterprise and social responsibility for young people, including involvement in community representation, local democracy and decision-making.
The Active Schools network aims to offer all young people opportunities and motivation to adopt active, healthy lifestyles, now and into adulthood. These opportunities are made available before, during and after school, as well as in the wider community. More physical activity is introduced into children's daily lives through active travel, play and dance.
Maximising potential of voluntary sector and communities
An essential function of the Vibrant Communities service is to develop and strengthen our relationship with the voluntary sector as a key partner to transform our relationship with communities.
We also provide support in relation to funding opportunities and explore innovative ways of sourcing funding to develop and sustain community initiatives. The important role that the voluntary sector has to play in delivering local services in partnership with East Ayrshire CVO (Council for Voluntary Organisations) and supporting local communities is widely acknowledged and is reflected locally through examples of excellent practice in our communities.
A sustainable approach
Local recruitment, training and support of volunteers featured extensively in the recent stakeholder consultation, recognising that there are real opportunities to build on local good practice and further strengthen and upscale this work.
We want to celebrate our volunteers and develop new approaches to enhance this work, including the introduction of time banking. This approach builds on the strong operational relationship with East Ayrshire Volunteer Centre through the Third Sector Interface.
Enhancing our partnership working with the East Ayrshire North Communities Federation, East Ayrshire Coalfield Communities Federation, Faith Groups and working extensively with community councils to grow capacity will also underpin this sustainable approach.
Community-led action planning
Focussing on empowering and building the capacity of local people and communities and developing strong social networks, the service provides a single point of contact through a 'community enabler' to help people to engage with Council and partner services. Specifically, in communities there will be a focus upon identifying local assets, bringing together local groups, associations, communities of interest and organisations, prioritising action through local surveys and consultation and planning for change.
Work is already underway to support the development of locally led action plans in every one of East Ayrshire's communities over the next three years. This approach underpins the Council's aspiration to transform our relationship with the communities we serve, ensuring that communities are empowered to plan, prioritise and progress community led regeneration in their area. View our community led action plans including our video 'Rocky Road' aimed at spreading the word about what it really takes for communities and governments to work together.
Adult literacy, numeracy and learning
This redesigned targeted service focuses on developing the essential skills of individuals through literacy and numeracy support, family learning and digital and financial literacies. Our Local Area Co-ordinators work alongside communities supporting disabled people and their families/carers to become more confident and included members of their community and to live independent lives.
Community asset transfer
East Ayrshire Council is looking to reduce it's property portfolio by around 25% over the next three years and we are currently reviewing service provision and properties.
In order to progress this estate rationalisation, which forms part of the Council's Transformation Strategy, a project team is hosted in Vibrant Communities.
We support the transfer of Council-owned community assets to voluntary or community organisations through transfer of management responsibility, short or long term lease, or transfer of outright ownership.
The team can offer help and guidance by supporting community groups throughout the process.