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Community Anchor Organisations

Background

An examination of the characteristics of strong and independent communities shows that they possess the ability to unite - and `hold together` - usually around some local organisation which they own. For some reason - in certain areas - the local community sector, the fragmented array of small voluntary groups, invest authority in a local umbrella vehicle to champion their collective interests. There are no examples of sustained community empowerment without some such locally embedded organisation, although in some areas this leadership role is achieved by two or more groups acting together. In theory structures like the Scottish `Community Planning Partnerships` could strengthen communities by linking them to decision making - but experience has shown that, without reference to some independent local organisation, community representatives are too isolated to be effective.

Community empowerment policy in England is led jointly by the Office of the Third Sector (The Cabinet Office) and the Dept. of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). They have both endorsed the importance of community led vehicles like development trusts for building strong and independent communities. They have jointly adopted the term `Community Anchor Organisation` (CAO) as a generic category for such vehicles - to give new emphasis to their significance.

Since 2009, when Scottish Government and COSLA jointly launched the Scottish Community Empowerment Action Plan, the concept of community anchors and the key role that they play in building local resilience, in the design and delivery of local services and in the field of locally led regeneration has become increasingly embedded across Scottish Government policy. Now, with the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, community anchor organisations are widely acknowledged as being pivotal to the community empowerment process.  It is therefore important to be absolutley clear what a community anchor organisation is.

Anchor definition

The first use of the term Anchor Organisation was in the government report Firm Foundations, which was published by the Home Office in 2004 when David Blunkett was Home Secretary. This radical document is the government's official framework for community capacity building and it states: "We are calling them `community anchor organisations` because of the solid foundation they give to a wide variety of self help and capacity building activities in local communities and because of their roots within their communities." In 2005, the Home Office funded the Community Alliance to develop the `Anchor` concept and to promote the model around England. The Community Alliance website carries information, historical and current.

In June this year (2007) the Dept. of Communities and Local Government published a draft of its Third Sector Strategy in which CAOs feature prominently. The Strategy refers to the `Firm Foundations` origin of the term `Anchors` but also offers a carefully developed definition of what it is intended to signify.

"Working with the Office of the Third Sector, we are exploring the increasing potential of approaches involving `community anchor` organisations. These are independent community led organisations with multi-purpose functions, which provide a focal point for local communities and community organisations, and for community services. They often own and manage community assets, and support small community organisations to reach out across the community."

Anchor Examples

Birse Community Trust (BCT)

Birse covers over 125sq. km on Deeside in the north-east of Scotland. The parish (district) has four main parts: the three scattered rural communities of Finzean, Ballogie and Birse and the largely uninhabited Forest of Birse, which covers over a quarter of the parish’s total area. The parish has around 330 households, with half of the population living in Finzean and half in Ballogie and Birse.

Blantyre Miners Welfare Charitable Society

After 90 years of working for the community, Blantyre Miners Welfare Charitable Society’s latest challenge is to turn its recently completed, state-of-the-art Community Resource Centre into a successful, sustainable and income-generating enterprise; one that can continue to support its wide range of community activities.

Cassiltoun Housing Association

Cassiltoun Housing Association started life as the Castlemilk East Housing Co-operative in 1984, when nine tenants in the Ballantay area decided to do something about the appalling conditions they were living in. With the support of Glasgow City Council, 90 of the Council’s houses were eventually transferred to ‘the co-op’, the first such housing stock transfer in Glasgow. Today Cassiltoun Housing Association is a community owned housing association managing its own stock of 1,000 houses. Its work is concerned with physical, social, environmental and economic matters, such as healthcare, crime prevention and lifelong learning initiatives and the development of skills, training, employment and social enterprise.  

Coalburn Miners Welfare Charitable Society

From the 1850s, Coalburn developed as a railway settlement associated with the local coal mines. With the closure of the last colliery in 1968 and the railway closure in 1971, the village suffered from unemployment and isolation and the population declined significantly. The Coalburn Miners’ Charitable Society, which is at the heart of the community with many of the town’s population registered as members, has an important role in providing resources and leadership. An example of a community-led initiative is the One Stop Shop which houses a community shop and food cooperative, café, and a weekly South Lanarkshire Council Question & Answer Service.

Community Central Hall (CCH)

A former regeneration area, with strong industrial links, Greater Maryhill has seen a renaissance in recent years. However the community still has a poor health record, and suffers from youth gang territorialism. A diverse community, with many cultures living alongside each other, Maryhill still has the spirit of “old” Glasgow and the friendly community feel within the City Centre. Community Central Hall was built in the early 1920’s and when the building came up for sale in the early 1970’s, an action group was formed to prevent the building being sold for private development. Over the past 35 years CCH has evolved from providing community space for local organisations to providing a range of diverse and vital community services.  These include pre-school nursery provision; after and out of school care; youth work; café and catering; day care and homecare for older people.

Community Links

Community Links (South Lanarkshire) is an independent, not for profit, community engagement and community development organisation working with communities across South Lanarkshire, particularly the most deprived (as defined in SIMD 2012). It supports ‘community inspired regeneration’, and asset based community development.  Its work includes the design and production of the Community Matters Newspaper; undertaking community and volunteer development in addition to various consultations; facilitating events; tackling food poverty; delivering environmental community projects; addressing sectarian issues via social media; communication through social marketing & media campaigns; and delivering employability support projects.  It builds community capacity through the Asset Based Community Development Approach and strives to enable the development of stronger more resilient communities and individuals.

Comrie Development Trust (CDT)

Comrie Development Trust, set up in 2006, is a charitable organisation owned and managed by local people living within the boundary of Comrie and District area – Strathearn. The aim of the Development Trust is to promote the sustainable development of the village for the benefit of local people, groups and businesses. In September 2007, the CDT purchased Cultybraggan - a Prisoner of War & Army Training Camp - encompassing 90 acres of land from the Ministry of Defence, for the benefit of the community.  In addition to the buyout, the Trust has also advanced a range of projects include the Carbon Challenge project, a Youth Drama Group, a Community Cinema Club, the on-going development of a skateboarding / bike park, renewable energy projects, waste and transport related activities, music events, the creation of a Community Orchard and plans for a Community Woodland.

Connect Community Trust

Established in September 2003 the organisation evolved through the drive of the local housing provider and the need to focus on regeneration and service development for the community as a whole. Connect is a catalyst and key partner for activities that address a wide range of local people’s needs including training, education, social needs, financial literacy, health, wellbeing and employment. Activities include a walking club, elderly lunch club, dance, ICT courses, various social and community events/evenings, advice and support, youth drop-in, youth holiday programmes, music/recording studio, family excursions, family support, a wide variety of volunteering opportunities and confidence building initiatives. Over the past 4 years, the Peoples Gateway project has been highly successful and supported over 600 people into work and to gain qualifications through job search, positive psychology and training courses.

Creetown Initiative Ltd (CI)

In 2000 a group of local people came together to address the need for affordable housing in the Creetown area. This led to the setting up in 2004 of the Creetown Initiative to address local needs and the delivery of a range of regeneration projects to support the local economy including: environmental, renewables, sport and healthy living, community facilities, art and education.  The Creetown Initiative Consultancy arm was created in 2006 when community groups elsewhere saw what was happening in Creetown and wanted assistance to carry out similar projects in their own area.  The consultancy has now worked with other groups on over 80 projects across Scotland.

Ferguslie Park Housing Association

Ferguslie Park Housing Association, a community-based Housing Association, is the largest social landlord in Ferguslie Park with some 784 properties. In October 2006 the Association became the new owners and managers of the Tannahill Community Centre. This Centre is the hub of Ferguslie Park and is home to a wealth of community facilities including a health centre, nursery, post office, library, cafe, community hall and chemist.  The Association acts as more than a landlord; it oversees local regeneration projects, training and employment projects, and community participation initiatives.With its partners in the local community and local and national government, the Association invests in the physical, social and economic regeneration of Ferguslie Park.

Fintry Development Trust

The organisation emerged in response to a proposal from a private developer to build a wind farm. Local people joined together to negotiate with the developer to increase the footprint of the windfarm by one additional turbine. Although Fintry Development Trust has done a lot of other things in the past few years, it is probably still best known for the relationship it has with Earlsburn Windfarm. The essence of this relationship is that the Trust, via its trading subsidiary Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprise (FREE), has a right to a ‘turbine’s worth’ of the income generated by the whole windfarm. The trading subsidiary donates the income it earns from the turbine to Fintry Development Trust and this money is used to support the work of FDT in the community.

Glenboig Neighbourhood House

Glenboig village is located 3 miles to the north of Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire.  Its quiet rural setting belies a significant industrial heritage which included world renowned fireclay brickworks, coal mining and significant rail links.

Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT)

The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT) was formed in 2001 as a direct result of the foot and mouth outbreak which severely knocked the area. The main aim of the trust has been to transform the derelict Victorian Kells Primary School into a centre for community, cultural and business activities. Within three months the local community had contributed enough funds to purchase the building and The CatStrand was on its way. Six years, and a £1 million fundraising campaign later, the building opened in September 2007. Named The CatStrand after the small stream which used to run underneath the building, the centre provides a wide range of quality arts, community and training activities for the residents of the Glenkens as well as being a tourist attraction in its own right.

Glenuig Community Association

The commitment of local people to music and culture led during 1980s to, first, the Glenuig Music Festival, and then the establishment of the Glenuig Community Association.  The Association has now delivered the purpose-built Glenuig Hall to house its extensive arts programme and other community’s activities.  It’s now branching out into other social enterprises, and using its activities and the income generated to invest in the community’s future.

Inverclyde Community Development Trust – known locally as ‘The Trust’

The Trust was established in 1996, following previous work by local organisations from the late 80’s to support people made unemployed by the shipyard closures. Its Mission: to create jobs; remove obstacles; provide services. It has grown into a community enterprise that employs over 100 local people, with a turnover of £3 million, and provides training, care and regeneration services to community and business across Inverclyde. The Trust owns and operates a number of premises and community hubs throughout the area, with central bases in Greenock and Port Glasgow. It remains firmly rooted in the community, and committed to meeting the needs and aspirations of local people, and by giving the community a voice The Trust has changed the landscape of regeneration.

Iomairt Chille Chomain

In summer 2001, 18 hectares of land on the outskirts of Port Charlotte on the Isle of Islay was put on the open market. The land consisted of a football pitch that was well used, highly valued and maintained by the local football team. The possible loss of this facility galvanised residents to research the possibility of the community purchasing the land. To this end, in October 2001, the community created Iomairt Chille Chomain. Iomairt Chille Chomain is entirely community led and now owns and manages the land which includes 2 crofts, an area of grassland managed for corncrake, the football pitch, a campsite, a modern high specification play park and the Port Mòr Centre.

Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre

The community of Kirkshaws is located at the southern edge of Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire.  Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre (KNC) was established in 1989 with support from Urban Aid funding to convert an ‘old housing stock’ 3 storey tenement into a community facility. Over the years there have been significant changes in the areas physical appearance, in particular through improvements to existing housing stock and the construction of new properties. KNC recognises that ‘bricks and mortar don’t make a community’ and improved housing alone has not addressed some of the underlying issues experienced by local people.  KNC tries to provide support to meet the priorities of local people.

Knoydart Foundation

The Foundation was established in 1997 and with the help of many supporters bought out the remains of the Knoydart estate in 1999.Since then it has created significant assets for the whole community and we have 11 properties which are rented out at affordable rents, support community development, operate a ranger service and provide support for tourists and visitors, run a hydro-electric scheme (no grid connection here) and other services, run a bunkhouse, operate a small shop, have a venison butchery business, lease land and buildings, and manage the wild deer herd. With the support of its trading subsidiaries, The Foundation has become largely financially self-sufficient, and is now looking towards its next series of developments.  

Muirkirk Enterprise Group

Muirkirk Enterprise Group originated in 2000 as an offshoot from the Muirkirk Community Council with the aim of regenerating Muirkirk. The ongoing aim is to provide sustainable regeneration to the whole village community, and to create pride, respect and hope for the village for generations to come. MEG has gone on to design and develop a large number of projects to improve the physical appearance of the village, encourage tourists and visitors, increase employment opportunities, improve community safety, and create a community where people want to live. MEG provides a wide range of services including sports and recreational activities, and the development and conservation of local heritage sites.

Neilston Development Trust

The trust has its roots in a community project, “Neilston: Space to Live”, that was set up by residents in 2004 to work for spatial and cultural renewal in Neilston. In November 2005, the closure of the only bank in Neilston was announced. After an unsuccessful community campaign against the closure, the community decided to invoke the Community Right to Buy provision of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The bank was purchased by NDT, on behalf of the community. The acquisition of the bank building in November 2006 provided a base for the Trust, and a host to a wide range of services and activities.

Newlands Community Development Trust

When in 2003 Newlands Primary School was threatened with closure, a parents group worked to convince the Council to save the school. The group was also concerned for the wellbeing of their rural community: isolation, distance from facilities and services, and a lack of employment opportunities, all impact significantly on the quality of life there. In 2007 the Trust was formed to develop a stronger sense of community and to improve general wellbeing in the area. Funding was secured from The Big Lottery and the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) to build a community centre adjacent to the local primary school. The centre opened in 2011, since when the Newlands Activity Centre has been at the heart of the community. In 2013 Scottish Borders Council transferred ownership of the old Newlands Memorial Hall to NCDT to use for the benefit of the community.

Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust

Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust is based in the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh.   Our vision is that Edinburgh becomes a creative, participative city in which everyone is able to access the spaces and resources they require to pursue their own creativity, no matter who they are and what form it may take.  Our mission is to provide affordable and appropriate spaces, resources, projects and opportunities for the residents of Edinburgh to be creative.  Out of the Blue has established a reputation as an independent, dynamic and innovative cultural social enterprise. Out of the Blue is one of Scotland’s leading community, cultural and arts development organisations working in partnership to provide economic, cultural, social and educational opportunities, to a significant number of people to make a real difference to their lives.    

Pearce Institute (PI)

Govan was the centre of world shipbuilding during the industrial revolution, but subsequent closure of the shipyards lead to unemployment, a high crime rate, derelict land and a decimated business community. A grass roots kick-back against that decline has led to community-based regeneration of the area and the Pearce Institute (locally known as the PI) has been at the heart of the initiative. The PI is well linked to Govan community groups, many of which are either housed in the PI, or rent space for their meetings. The PI works to encourage training and employment,  promoting Goven as a centre for the creative and media industries, while cherishing the roots and heritage of the community.  

Princess Royal Sports and Community Trust

The Princess Royal Sports & Community Trust was set up in 1997 to provide sport and leisure activities, both at its centre and through its outreach work. The Trust owns the stadium building it operates from and it provides facilities for physical recreation and leisure time activity, including a multi-gym, astro-turf sports pitches, and out-of-school childcare. The Trust also delivers outreach coaching/fitness sessions to local schools, nursing homes and in various town halls in the area. The Trust also delivers a wide range of sports programmes. Facilities include gym equipment, an astro turf sports pitch, coaching programmes, and outreach through primary schools, nursing homes and rural village halls. The Trust also offers diet and drug /alcohol workshops and delivers holiday programmes.

Renton Community Development Trust

The Renton Community Development Trust (the Trust) was established in 2004 to develop further the regeneration progress already being made in the village of Renton and to look at ways of developing the skills that exist in the community to ensure its long-term sustainability and viability. The strategy is to move away from grant dependency and encourage enterprise and community involvement within the village.  Community-based regeneration has led to the acquisition and development of quality housing stock; the development of Carman Centre – the community hub; asset transfer of The John Connolly centre;  the development of a Healthy Living Centre; the development and sale of a supermarket; and the development and lease of Renton train station named The Bruce Heritage Centre.

Sleat Community Trust

When proposals to build a wind-farm in Sleat fell through, the Trust remained intact and now, through the Sleat Community Plan, focuses on the priorities identified by the local people and puts in place actions and projects to progress sustainable community development. In addition to owning and operating the Skye Ferry Filling Station and Tormore Forest, Sleat Community Trust also: leases the garage to ensure a maintenance and repair service continues; leases office space to two local small businesses, markets Sleat tourist amenities via  Visit Sleat and  publishes the Sleat Tourism Leaflet; offers a subsidised taxi service for Sleat residents; supplies local businesses and domestic customers with Woodfuel; operates Skyenet a community broadband service; and has conducted a feasibility study/community consultation for new facilities at its Armadale Trading site.

The Boyndie Trust Ltd.

The Boyndie Trust was established in 1999 by a group of local people to ensure the broad-based regeneration of the area, including the employability and well-being of people who are disadvantaged in the labour market. The Trust owns and has converted a beautiful red-brick Victorian school building into a visitor centre which attracts 35,000 visitors a year. The centre boasts a four star restaurant, gift shop, plant nursery, textiles workshop, joinery business and office space. Together these provide training opportunities for 70 people, many who have special needs, and paid employment for a further 30 people. Products from the textile and joinery workshops and plants from the nursery are sold at the centre and under contract to local organisations.

The Fisherrow Trust

Fisherrow Community Centre first opened in 1977, but in 1997  was threatened with possible closure and demolition. After consultation with local people and the completion of a feasibility study, it was decided that the centre could run on a financially self-sustaining basis by letting out low cost office accommodation to voluntary organisations, supported by a regular fixed grant from the Council. In 2006 the Fisherrow Trust was formed and is now responsible for the community centre. The local primary school building was saved and given a new lease of life by the Fisherrow Trust and now functions as a vibrant hub for local community activities of all kinds.

The GalGael Trust

As the tide went out on the shipbuilding history of Govan, many families in the community were left without work and meaning.  Modern Govan has been left high and dry by this post-industrial legacy; roots are being lost, values are becoming blurred, and the fast-flowing current of modern life is leaving many behind.  GalGael was founded in 1997 and has worked since then to create a cultural anchor point around which local people are re-kindling skills, community and a sense of purpose. GalGael offer hospitality to the marginalised, a sense of place to the disconnected and the right of responsibility to the disenfranchised. They offer a chisel so that even the unskilled can carve out a future.

The Langholm Initiative

Born out of the decline of the textile industry in the area, which by the 1990s had left many unemployed and morale low, the Initiative has worked with local business, the community and regional partners to support economic and community regeneration. The results are impressive: a thriving local High St; extensive business support; sustainable tourism; and environmental and cultural developments. The Initiative is now working to develop, both, its asset-base and a stronger social enterprise approach.

Twechar Community Action

A former mining and quarrying village, Twechar is one of Scotland’s 15% most deprived areas. Twechar Community Action was formed in 2001 as a response to the closure of the Local Aurthority owned recreation centre in Twechar. Twechar Community Action transformed the centre into the Twechar Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre - a community hub which houses a full time pharmacy, a satellite GP surgery, café, sports hall and meeting rooms, and a vast range of activities and services. Twechar Community Action has its origins in the desire of local people to retain and improve one of the few facilities and amenities in the village.

West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd Craft and Design Town Project (WKCIL)

The loss of large-scale manufacturing jobs in West Kilbride resulted in above average unemployment. The high street lost many traditional retail outlets replaced by empty and unkempt shops. West Kilbride began to suffer from vandalism, a poor image and a lack of services. The West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd Craft and Design Town Project (WKCIL) drove the strategy of a craft and design town to regenerate the town and create a vibrant, dynamic and financially sustainable community. Community involvement during the planning and development process has not only resulted in physical regeneration, but also a sense of community pride. The main retail centre has changed from almost derelict site to a lively town centre once more.

West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative

The Co-operative was formed in 1989 by local tenants determined to challenge the social deprivation on their estate. With support from government and their staff team, they set about a community-led regeneration: the results are high-quality housing and services for their community, and a restored sense of local pride in the area. Other benefits include a Community Resource Centre which provides a hub for events, learning opportunities, Credit Union and Citizen Advice services, affordable childcare, and a 3G floodlit pitch. Many homes are linked to a Biomass heating service providing controllable cheap heating and hot water, and Whitcomm Co-operative provides broadband and telephone services to tenants.  

Westray Development Trust

Westray is the largest of Orkney’s North Isles that until the mid 90’s was characterized by depopulation, a decline in traditional industries (agriculture and fishing), a limited range of employment opportunities and geographical remoteness that was adversely affecting the cost of living and the provision of services. The development trust was established in 1998 in response to these challenges.  Many of the projects included in the initial strategic plan have now been achieved, for example the establishment of a youth centre, the construction of a care centre in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, and the commissioning of a community owned wind turbine. Current projects include a golf course development, projects to assist economic development, and ongoing management of the youth centre and the community owned wind turbine.  

WHALE Arts Agency

When construction of Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes began in the late 1960’s,  poor planning, lack of service provision and sub-standard housing brought the community together in a series of campaigns.  While regeneration has meant that much of the initial housing stock, including 18 ‘high flats’, have been demolished, such significant physical changes impacted on the community’s social and cultural resiliance.  Initiated by local people in 1992, WHALE Arts has established itself as the cultural anchor organisation for Wester Hailes. A community-led arts charity and social enterprise, its mission is to be the creative heart of a vibrant, thriving community, a conduit between the community and creative opportunities through its programme of projects and events and by connecting the community with cultural partners, both in the city and nationally.

Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax Improvement Foundation (WAT IF?)

The WAT IF? area covers the three rural villages of Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax, along with several small hamlets and outlying settlements.  90% of the area is in South Lanarkshire, with 10% in West Lothian, covering the small hamlet of Cobbinshaw.  The Trust was formed in 2012 to ensure that community benefit funds from the various windfarm developments in the area were distributed in the local area for community led projects and improvements.Although the villages are classed as rural, they are easily accessible from Livingston and Edinburgh, however infrastructure is lacking and one of the key priorities for WAT IF? is to address issues such as lack of sustainable transport and key services such as superfast broadband.  The Trust also has an important role in supporting existing community groups + helping to develop the villages for a more sustainable future.