Empowering Communities: An Excellent for our East Ayrshire communities

“Our innovative Vibrant Communities approach to Community Development is empowering communities and has been recognised by Education Scotland, for only the second time, as excellent,” said Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at a celebration event for local community groups.

Hosted at Cumnock Juniors by Eric Bennett from Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise, a Scottish charity founded in 2016, the event was a celebration of community spirit.

Following an inspection of community development locally, Education Scotland highlighted the drive and determination shown by local groups and individuals, in a report published today, Monday 30 September.

Inspectors visited Cumnock, New Cumnock, Logan, Netherthird and surrounding areas including Muirkirk, earlier this year. They had over 60 visits and meetings with community organisations, groups, employees and partners. This showed the phenomenal and sector leading work taking place with, and by, our communities.

The team from Education Scotland liaised closely with a wide range of providers and volunteers to establish how national policy objectives, like closing the poverty-related attainment gap, reducing social isolation and loneliness and empowering communities, were being delivered locally.

East Ayrshire’s approach to community development is recognised as innovative and a model of best practice across Scotland. The report highlights the ‘very strong practice in the strategic approach partners take to engaging with and building the capacity of communities to deliver services’ and that by making community engagement everyone’s role is helping to change lives.

The report also highlights the role that partners play to make effective use of local knowledge to respond to local priorities, the high value that leaders, at all levels, place on community development and the ‘highly motivated, enthusiastic and trusted’ staff and volunteers working within our local communities.

Councillor Whitham said: “Vibrant Communities’ approach to community development is a game changer and authorities across Scotland are taking notice of the innovative way we are delivering services. We are working with local residents and groups including Cumnock Community Action Plan and Netherthird Community Development Group to ensure that local priorities are met and that communities are empowered to deliver change across the area.

“This is the future of service delivery for local government. It is not just about what the Council is ‘doing to’ you, it is about your community being empowered to discover and drive change. Through strong partnerships led by Vibrant Communities, the Health and Social Care Partnership and local community groups, we are seeing communities becoming more confident and a growing sense of community spirit on display.

“If you talk to local people they will say that our approach to community development creates a feeling of partnership and of everyone working together to achieve our hopes and dreams. This confidence in each other, and friendship, has developed gradually since Vibrant Communities was formed in 2013.

“Communities are at the heart of everything we do and this approach has unlocked knowledge, skills and expertise of local people to harness the enthusiasm and talent that exists across East Ayrshire.”

We are building on this success within East Ayrshire’s communities. The establishment of our Children and Young Person’s Cabinet continues to ensure that young people are empowered and are part of our decision making process. We want young people to have a real say in important matters that affect them. Opportunities for young people to volunteer will continue to be developed and Vibrant Communities will ensure that accreditation is available to young people through volunteering.

Katie Kelly, Depute Chief Executive: Safer Communities said: “The Education Scotland report is a celebration of our communities and the achievements of the incredible people we work alongside on a daily basis. Vibrant Communities is an innovative approach and a true partnership with our communities. We are challenging the status quo and I really couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved, together.

“I am looking forward to the next chapter of our adventure with the communities we serve. Our communities have achieved great things and we will continue to grow together and put people at the heart of everything we do.”