Supporting Communities

Supporting Communities is a programme to help build the skills, confidence and knowledge of community organisations across Scotland.

Through Supporting Communities work we’ve partnered up with community organisations from across the country to help build skills, develop ideas and address the issues important to them and their communities.

Over the last six years a key focus of Supporting Communities is disadvantage: how some community organisations face more barriers to achieving their aims than others. These could be groups that are based in areas with higher levels of poverty, or remote rural areas, or groups that represent communities who are more likely to experience discrimination. We work with groups to identify barriers and come up with solutions.

Supporting Communities is funded through the Scottish Government’s Empowering Communities programme.

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Supporting Communities 6 - 2019/20

Building on our work from last year, we’re supporting community organisations to develop community-led action plans and the development of place-based approaches.


Community-led action planning

Community-led action plans are a way for community groups to identify and prioritise the issues and needs in their communities - and set them out for other organisation and bodies to take in account.

We are working with community anchor organisations (development trusts, community-based housing associations, networks and alliances) to support them to take leading roles in community action planning.

We’re beginning our work with a number of groups involved in community-led action planning from across Scotland:

  • Moray – Forres

  • Argyll & Bute – South Cowal

  • West Lothian – Polbeth

  • East Dunbartonshire – Kirkintilloch

  • Glasgow – Springboig; Carmunnock; Dennistoun

  • South Ayrshire – Colmonnell

  • Dumfries & Galloway - Langholm

We’ll have more to share about how this work is progressing soon.


Place-based approaches

Supporting communities to take the lead in developing their places is a key strand of this year’s programme. This year we will be working in at least 4 areas to help this to happen.

We have already started working in Kyle & Lochalsh in Wester Ross, and in the Milton area of Glasgow. New sites are in development and there will be more information soon about these. 

What are we learning?


A key aim of our programme is to learn about what works and what gets in the way of community-led approaches to regenerating our communities. We’ll be publishing detailed learning as we go, but the emerging themes from earlier phases of the programme include:

  • Understanding Place – it is important that communities themselves are able to take a lead in defining their ‘place’, and what it is that connects people across communities of geography, identity and interest. The role of community anchor organisations/networks in developing community-led action plans and generating their own evidence and data is a key element of this.

  • Place and Inequality – our participating organisations all emphasise the importance of good quality community engagement in ensuring that those groups that face additional barriers are supported to participate on an equal basis. There is also a need to recognise the reach and depth of community engagement which is undertaken by local community organisations.

  • Place-based relationships – strong and positive relationships (within communities, and between communities and public bodies) are key in establishing community priorities and identifying shared goals.

  • Capacity and infrastructure – there is a clear need to have local capacity and infrastructure to support the development of community-led action planning and place-based approaches. Community anchor organisations, local networks and strong collaboratives are key components of this local infrastructure.

  • The impact of community-led working – programme participants have emphasised the importance of demonstrating the impact of community-led approaches. There is also a need to develop on-going learning about what works, and what gets in the way of, community-led regeneration.


Supporting Communities 5 - 2018/19

Throughout SC5 we worked to strengthen community involvement in local community planning processes and supported community anchor organisations to support them to take leading roles in community action planning and place-based developments.

Our learning

A key aim of our programme is to learn about what works and what gets in the way of community-led approaches to regenerating our communities. Some of learning included:

  • The benefits of community action planning as well as the issues around boundaries, timescales, capacity, and alignment with other plans.

  • The importance of strengthening community involvement in community planning, and how this can happen. We’ve produced a learning report on this here.

  • The key issues/challenges are similar for those who are developing community-led place-based approaches i.e. boundaries, timescales, capacity, and control.

In June 2019 participants in Supporting Communities 5 came together to review the work that they’ve been carrying out and bring together their learning.

A report summarising the day has been produced - download it here.