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About us

In 2016, the member networks of the Scottish Community Alliance published a shared vision of what needs to happen if Scotland's communty sector is become stonger and more sustainable into the future. 

Click here to read   Hard copies can be obtained on request from

Scottish Community Alliance member networks engage with over 2000 community based organisations and enterprises located the length and breadth of Scotland, which:

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 functions – to promote the work of local people in their communities and to influence national policy development. 

The Alliance connects and advances these two aspects of our work through ‘Local People Leading’ - our fortnightly e-mail briefings - and our linked website. We also host occasional events for face to face dialogue between supporters.

What 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. When this informal gathering of networks came together we used the 'wrapper' of Local People Leading to give us a collective identity. 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 more and more networks with community based memberships. Towards the end of 2010, these networks agreed to formalise this loose arrangement by adopting a constitution and renaming itself - The Scottish Community Alliance.

Minimal Structure

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 was 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. As relationships between these networks had time to develop and levels of mutual trust were able to grow, it was felt that the time was right to formalise the arrangement by constituting the organisation and renaming it the Scottish Community Alliance. A founding principle that all parties subscribed to was that SCA should remain small in size with the emphasis of its work being reflected through the activities of its member networks.


Membership is open to national or regional networks with community based memberships that share the aims and values of Scottish Community Alliance. Any network that wishes to join SCA should intimate their intention to join by emailing . The Executive Group (who are the Trustees of the SCIO) will consider the application and recommend it be approved or refused to the next full meeting of  Scottish Communtiy Alliance. There is no membership fee.

Shared Vision

The Scottish Community Alliance takes the view that as a result of the centralist policies of national and local governments over the last 20 -30 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 that have acted to empower themselves. The vision we share is of a vigorous community sector, able to engage in a new relationship between the state, community organisations and citizens.

Why we formed

A recognised need to address the following key factors was central to the formation of the Scottish Community Alliance:

Democratic deficit

The UK's elected local councillors answer to an average constituency of 2,600 voters. The equivalent constituency is 667 in Sweden, 250 in Germany and 116 in France. Local election turnout is 80% in Sweden and 70% in Germany; in the UK it runs around at 33%. All our political parties now agree that the excessive centralization of state power has damaged local democracy in Britain and that something must be done to pass power back down to people and communities.

Top down has failed

Scotland's Regeneration Policy "People and Place" emphasizes physical rather than social regeneration and the roles of the public and private sectors rather than communities. Audit Scotland's review of Community Planning Partnerships found that they are failing to engage effectively with communities and that half of them don't even have local representation. The review of the Government's Community Voices programme found it limited both in reach and effectiveness. The Community Sector in Scotland lacks overall co-ordination and is without a collective voice. As a result, it has been marginalized from mainstream policy development.

Local people leading

Despite a lack of support from central and local government over the years, all across Scotland local people have continued to organise and take action at a neighbourhhood level to improve their communities. Much of this activity is informal and unfunded, relying on the voluntary support of local people to sustain itself. More formal organisations such as housing associations and community trusts, also under the control and management of local people, often operate alongside this informal activity and provide the support and leadership to sustain it.

The scale and diversity of all this local activity creates the 'social glue' that binds a community together and generates the civic pride that people feel for the place they live. The Alliance believes that the importance of this contribution to the health and well-being of civil society is not sufficiently recognised nor supported by government. Indeed, the Alliance contends that much of this community led activity is routinely discouraged and resisted by local councils. Scotland needs a 'gathering point' where organisations and individuals who support community empowerment can join forces to campaign for change.

Who we are

The following networks make up the Scottish Community Alliance.  Please click on a network to find out about their members and the impact they are having in communities across Scotland.

Coastal Communities Network

The Coastal Communities Network (CCN) is a collaboration of locally-focused community groups, guided by the belief that coastal communities across Scotland are well placed to harness long-term solutions to ensure healthy, well-managed seas.

The Network  provides the means to establish a strong communication and action platform for building the community voice within marine conservation and management in Scotland.

Scotland’s dynamic and complex shoreline attests to richly biodiverse ecosystems below the waves. The species and habitats found in our inshore waters underpin the ecological integrity of marine habitats and the economic prosperity of nearby coastal communities. With the escalation of threats and impacts within our inshore waters, managing our seas for environmental and economic sustainability is no easy task.

Working together, the aim of the CCN is to better connect coastal communities across Scotland, share community knowledge and expertise, and build community action on marine conservation.

Not all coastal communities face the same issues, but where they do, we recognise that there is strength in communities being able to speak on these issues with a united voice. Inevitably, there will be cases where communities differ in their views, and here the CCN can celebrate and share our diversity and help build coastal community resilience.

Community Energy Scotland

Scotland’s communities now have over 25MW of renewable electricity generation, with 17MW due to be installed in 2013 and a further 160MW in the pipeline. This will be sufficient to power over 160,000 homes, and will bring more than £20 million annually into community funds. As well as wind and hydro schemes generating electricity for wider distribution, there are hundreds of micro-generation and renewable heat projects in community buildings and social housing.

Community engagement with renewable energy:

Combats climate change: generating electricity from renewable sources displaces fossil fuels, reducing total carbon emissions.

Reduces energy use: through energy audits in community buildings and installation of energy efficiency measures.

Drives rural development: community wind and hydro schemes create jobs in construction and maintenance, whilst fuel supply for biomass supports wider land management objectives.

Supports community development: renewables installations produce a reliable long-term income for community organisations, facilitating delivery of a broad range of economic, social and environmental benefits. 


Community Health Exchange (CHEX)

The CHEX network comprises 88 locally-led initiatives in low income areas that promote a wide range of activities and campaigns designed to tackle Scotland’s health inequalities. Community-led health organisations are supporting local people to develop solutions that address health and wider inequalities.  Through activities - such as walking groups, cookery classes, support groups, complementary therapy sessions and training in ‘Health Issues in the Community’ - they create a range of opportunities to promote change towards positive health outcomes. Including; 

Health & Wellbeing: supporting mental health improvement, promotion of affordable and quality food, social interaction and the promotion of more active lifestyles

Co-production:  placing the skills and knowledge of local people on the same footing as professional ‘experts’ in the joint design of health, and other, public services

Community Development:  empowering individuals and supporting collective community action

Social Capital: increased as people develop new skills, make new connections and establish new networks of support in their community 

Community Land Scotland

The 38 members of Community Land Scotland manage some 200,000 hectares of land, home to some 25,000 people.  Community ownership is transforming communities previously considered fragile and unsustainable into exemplars of locally-led asset-based rural development.

Community landowners deliver local, accountable control of land and resources and seek to manage these to achieve integrated sustainable development:

Promoting economic development: from renewable energy projects and land management to tourism initiatives and affordable housing.

Maintaining local service delivery: from running the local shop or bunkhouse to providing childcare and countryside ranger services

Protecting and enhancing the environment: delivering, often in partnership, large scale land management and restoration projects, 

Supporting community development: building community capacity, confidence and empowerment through self-determination and local control of assets. 


Community Resources Network Scotland

Most CRNS members are social enterprises managing waste resources at a local level. The community re-use and recycling sector diverts in excess of 45,000 tonnes from landfill each year and generates over £20 million turnover. In addition to reducing landfill and cutting carbon emissions, third sector re-use and recycling organisations contribute to a wide range of social and economic outcomes, employing 750 full-time equivalent staff, involving 3,000 volunteers and supporting 2,000 training placements.

Third sector organisations are a significant aspect of Scotland’s zero waste economy:

Re-using: taking in household and office items and preparing them for re-use before selling them or passing them on. 

Recycling: collecting and collating materials from households and businesses to be processed and remanufactured into new products. 

Composting: collecting and processing green waste or food waste

Waste education: working with schools, the public, and businesses to promote recycling and waste minimization and effect positive behaviour change. 


Community Transport Association

Community transport organisations provide safe, accessible and affordable transport solutions to meet local needs, and account for 3.5 million journeys per year with older and disabled people comprising over 80% of passengers. The sector owns or has access to 900 vehicles and an annual income of £10 million.

Individual CT organisations often provide a mix of services, including:

• Community car schemes; a demand-responsive, flexible and accessible service for those who cannot access public transport due to mobility, illness, infirmity or restricted access.

• Group travel services and door-to-door dial-a-ride services; using minibuses operated under section 19 minibus permits.

• Wheels to Work; hiring mopeds and providing other transport services to enable people to get to work, apprenticeships, or to training that will lead to employment and long-term careers.

• Contracted ‘assisted travel’; services such as home-to-school, non-emergency patient or social care transport.

• Demand-responsive or fixed route transport; services operating where commercial bus routes are not viable.


Community Woodlands Association

Scotland’s 150 community woodland groups own or manage almost 100,000 hectares of woodland and open land, employ 200 staff, and involve 3,000 volunteers. They implement genuinely sustainable forest management practices, integrating commercial timber harvesting with firewood production for local markets and careful environmental management to support Scotland’s precious biodiversity.

Scotland’s community woodlands deliver a wide range of social benefits:

Education and skills: pioneering forest schools and other education projects and hosting skills and employability training projects.  

Health and wellbeing: serving as venues for projects supporting individuals with mental and physical health issues, from rehabilitation projects working with recovering addicts, to outdoor activities with the mentally/physical disabled and working with young people excluded from school.

Recreation & culture: receiving well over half a million recreational visits annually, providing specialist trails for mountain bikes and horses, managing designated environmental and archaeological sites, and hosting arts performances and installations.


Development Trusts Association Scotland

Scotland’s 190 Development Trusts manage assets worth over £50 million, employ around 750 staff and have a collective annual income of nearly £50 million.  Development trusts are underpinned by a strong ethos of self-help and self-reliance; they work to achieve sustainable community regeneration through management and development of community owned enterprise and assets.

Development trusts are set up to tackle local issues and to improve the quality of life in their community, and can become involved in a very wide range of activities:

Managing key local services: from the local post office and the village petrol pump to recreation facilities and sports centres,

Developing businesses: from renewable energy projects and land management to affordable housing, office space, property development and employability initiatives,

Supporting community cultural life: from preserving the local heritage and restoring and conserving historic buildings to running arts and crafts centres. 

Nourish Scotland

This is an important gathering point for all those individuals and communities who care about local and sustainable food in Scotland.  With over 1100 supporters, Nourish aims to create a stronger local food culture in Scotland in order to impact on land use, biodiversity, human health and greenhouse gas emissions.


Planning Democracy

We work with community councils, individuals, community organisations and others to identify the problems that people face in planning. Our work is informed by these people’s experiences. Our network is Scotland wide, made up of community councils, individuals and organisations who are involved in planning issues in some way.

Our work is divided into three areas.

Campaigns: We carry out practical and academic research on the state of community participation in the Scottish planning system; we work with many communities throughout Scotland to try to understand where the problems lie and how we can change things; we campaign for a just and open decision making; and promote practical changes for a more equitable, inclusive and transparent planning system.

Community Network: We have a network of around 200 people and organisations.

Our campaign network is made up of people who have been involved in planning issues. Many of them tell us they have learned the hard way and discovered how difficult it is to engage and have your voice heard in planning. They help us to campaign for better rights for communities.

Action Research: this is a new area that we are currently exploring. We will be running a planning academy with the community in North Edinburgh. The aim is to build understanding and awareness about new opportunities and challenges in planning and community empowerment and how they might take advantage of them.

Planning Democracy

Rural Housing Scotland

Rural Housing Scotland helps rural communities to take practical action to address local housing needs and build sustainable rural communities. We provide expert support to communities from initial feasibility – helping communities identify the need and develop a solution – through to the construction of affordable homes. We help communities secure affordable housing through community trusts and to work in partnership with government, landowners, and housing associations to deliver more affordable housing options.

We help people in rural areas with advice and information on rural housing options; promoting the uptake of grants and helping them find affordable rented housing.We work with communities across Scotland and have helped rural communities from Fetlar in Shetland to Foulden on the border.

Rural Housing Scotland

Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society

SAGS has 130 members, representing over 5000 allotment plot-holders, who grow enough fruit and vegetable to feed a town of 20,000.  Allotments feature allocated growing plots for individuals and community groups. There are often common areas for wider amenity use.  Allotment associations seek to promote mental and physical health, build inclusive communities and achieve environmental sustainability.

Allotments deliver a wide range of public benefits:

Health and wellbeing: allotments are restorative spaces for mental and spiritual healing. They promote active lifestyles and produce healthy, locally grown food supporting better diets,

Climate change: local growing reduces carbon emissions from intensive agriculture, transport and packaging

Social: allotments are hubs for community cohesion and development, 

Environmental: managing greenspace in urban areas provides a haven for wildlife and amenity benefits for the broader community. 

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

This network seeks to empower and enable communities to create a low carbon future, and promote local resilience and well-being. The 60 community members of Scottish Communities CAN are at the forefront of the community response to climate change.  Their diverse range of activities include energy advice and reduction measures, transport, food & growing, composting, waste reduction and reuse projects which deliver significant benefits towards:

Carbon Savings; from more efficient energy use through education, insulation & renewables; transport behaviour change; fewer food miles

Health & Wellbeing; from local fresh food; shared community spaces and activities; more active travel 

Local Economies; through creating local jobs; reducing home and transport fuel bills; increasing local resources and produce

Community Development; bringing people together to deliver projects; building skills and networks; identifying and addressing  local priorities 


Scottish Communities for Health & Wellbeing

Thie network is made up of 74 community led health improvement organisations. These organisations employ approximately 500 staff, involve over 4000 volunteers and engage with over 300,000 local people in a wide range of community-led approaches to reduce health inequalities in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities.

Scottish Islands Federation

The Scottish Islands Federation started as a network in 2000 which aimed to bring together people living on Scottish Islands, share information and good practice. It was funded by island councils and councils with islands and employed one project worker.

Today, we are a federation. In 2007, the network became an independent federation representing island development trusts, island community councils and island-based community benefit organisations. 

Scottish Islands Federation

Scottish League of Credit Unions

The 31 Credit Unions in the SLCU are democratically controlled, member-owned financial cooperatives, promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and generating a range of social and economic benefits.  They have 42,000 individual members drawn from across the entire economic spectrum of their communities, hold £32 million in savings and make loans of £21 million.

Credit Unions at present cannot charge more than two per cent interest a month on the amount owed – an APR of 26.8 per cent – the only financial institutions in the UK to have such a cap on interest rates. The activities of credit unions:

address social and financial exclusion,

drive community social and economic development,

offer an alternate corporate structure to the main street consumer financial institutions,

generate rewards for members and  local communities.

Scottish Men's Sheds Association

The Scottish Men’s Sheds Association sole focus is supporting Scotland’s Shedders and their supporters to create Men’s Sheds in their community across Scotland. If you need help, inspiration or just a chat, you have come to the right place.

Scottish Men's Sheds Association

Scottish Rural Action

Our Vision

Our vision is to help improve the lives of people in rural Scotland and to reduce rural inequality.

Our Mission

To encourage and actively support the development of an inclusive and sustainable rural movement that is rooted in Scotland’s rural communities and empowers and connects them.

About Scottish Rural Action

Scottish Rural Action is a Scottish Charity (No. SC048086) and a registered company limited by guarantee (No. SC461352). It is managed by a Board of Directors drawn from its membership. The current Board of Directors was elected at our AGM in Stranraer on the 16th November 2018.

We are a grassroots-led, non-profit organisation that seeks to reduce rural inequality and to make the voice of the seldom-heard more audible.

We work by:

  • Connecting with rural communities through our developing active volunteer-led networks to build a grass-roots rural movement.
  • Organising the Scottish Rural Parliament every two years to connect rural communities with decision-makers and to raise the profile of rural needs and strengths.
  • Providing opportunities for rural communities to connect, share and learn from each other.
  • Influencing policy and services at a national, regional and local level on the 5 key priority areas in the Rural Manifesto for Scotland to ensure the needs and interest of marginalised people living in rural areas are not overlooked.
  • Representing the voice of rural Scotland on key Scottish Government decision-making committees including National Transport Strategy Partnership Group, Broadband R100 Expert Group, Rural Policy Cross-Party Group.
  • Ensuring that decision-makers understand the needs and strengths of rural communities in Scotland, and that policy does not disadvantage rural communities.

We are a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity formed with the dual purpose of developing and organising Scotland’s Rural Parliament and supporting the development of a rural movement. We have no affiliation with any political party. Our members elect our board of directors every two years.

The objects of Scottish Rural Action are:

  • To encourage and actively support the development of an inclusive and sustainable Scottish rural movement that is rooted in Scotland’s rural communities and empowers and connects them.
  • To support the organisation of a Scottish Rural Parliament that meets with the purpose of giving a stronger, more coherent voice to Scotland’s rural communities and enabling them to engage more effectively with government at all levels.
  • To support and promote the development of a Scottish rural movement and Rural Parliament.

Senscot (Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland)


Social Farms and Gardens

The 220 projects in the network in Scotland work to build better communities and make a positive impact on the environment. They engage over 5,000 volunteers, have a collective turnover of £5 million, and are incredibly diverse in size and location, including community-managed farms, gardens, orchards and allotments. 

In addition to producing healthy local grown food they:

improve health and well-being: working with people experiencing mental or physical health problems, coming from institutional care, with addiction issues or learning difficulties.

provide formal and informal training and education, and routes to employment, especially for those who have experienced exclusion from mainstream society.

improve awareness around environmental practice: inspiring people and communities to take practical action that tackles the root causes of climate change.

promote social understanding and community integration; creating beautiful greenspaces where people of all ages and from all backgrounds can come together and share stories, skills and histories. 

Social Firms Scotland

Social Firms Scotland is the national support body for Social Firms in Scotland. A Social Firm is a specific type of Social Enterprise where the social mission is to create employment, and meaningful work (incl training and volunteering opportunities) for people who face significant barriers to employment – in particular, people with a disability (including mental ill health and learning disabilities) a substance abuse issue, a prison record, a homelessness issue and young people.

Social Firms Scotland

Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS)

Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland was set up in 2012 to represent Traditional Arts in Scotland.

TRACS brings together the , the and the  to provide a common platform and collective voice for Scotland’s rich cultural heritage, and to improve the knowledge, practice, development and advocacy of traditional arts in a contemporary world, making them more accessible to all.


• Encouraging collaboration across traditional art forms & languages

• Holistic, inclusive & welcoming inspired by tradition to innovate & develop


• Sharing core resources to ensure effective communication & promotion for Traditional Arts activities

• Showcasing collective assets of artists, festivals and local traditions for cultural and economic benefit


• Lobbying for more support for Traditional Arts

• Building partnerships with arts organisations, education authorities and local authorities

Voluntary Arts Scotland

Voluntary Arts Scotland is the national development agency and representative body for amateur arts and crafts groups, including over 60 national and regional art-form umbrella bodies.  Individuals and groups across Scotland participate in voluntary arts activities - including dance, drama, literature, music, media, visual arts, crafts, applied arts, folk arts, shows and festivals - that help to promote:

Health & Wellbeing; through increased self-confidence, self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth, as well as physiological benefits such as reduced blood pressure and increased fitness

Lifelong Learning; informal and formal learning opportunities allow people to gain new skills and explore new ideas

Community Empowerment; through increased social cohesion, personal and community development, improved personal and local image & identity, supporting venues that would not otherwise exist

Heritage; including the traditional skills of Scottish culture and preservation of national and local heritage