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How intandem is building trusted mentoring relationships

This week is an important one for us here at intandem. Not only is it Care Experienced Week, which looks to celebrate the care experience community, but it is also National Mentoring Day today (Friday 27 October) and we have lots of mentors and mentees to celebrate!  

Scotland made a promise children and young people with care experience, that they will grow up loved, safe and respected so they can realise their full potential. Providing trusted relationships and building confidence are an essential part of keeping this promise. 

intandem is all about building trusted relationships – with children and young people, with their families, with volunteers and with other professionals. These trusted relationships give young people and their families somewhere to turn when they need support.   

As a programme delivering mentoring for children and young people who are in the care of their local authority, or at risk of becoming so, and living either at home or in kinship care, intandem involves much more than mentoring. It is part of the scaffolding of support needed for a young person and their family to overcome difficulties. 

I am constantly amazed and frequently inspired by the dedication and compassion of our intandem coordinators and volunteer mentors who continually strive to do the best for young people and their families. Whether it’s making time to listen and offer emotional support or helping families to access specific services, they make a big difference to the lives of young people and their families. 

Having a mentor has made me a lot happier…I was really struggling, mentally, physically…but when I got my mentor, she brightens stuff up…it feels like she genuinely takes some of the stress off my shoulders.” Young person 

 

intandem keeps learning 

Established in 2016, intandem is managed by Inspiring Scotland and delivered by partner charities across 19 local authorities. The landscape has changed a lot over this time, and I have learnt just how important it is to listen to and learn from children and families. 

Since intandem began, mentoring the programme we’ve made several changes to help us keep the promise: 

  • We widened the eligibility criteria for children and young people mentored to remove barriers to support. Young people in kinship care and those at risk of becoming looked after can now access intandem. 
  • Recognising the trusted relationships between coordinators, young people and families, intandem now involves much more than mentoring, it’s part of the scaffolding of support around families enabling them to overcome difficulties.   
  • Participation is a crucial part of keeping the promise and it has become essential at intandem with our dynamic youth forum becoming a key element of our programme.  

Weekly community-based mentoring has powerful results, changing the trajectory of children and young people’s lives. Here are some of my favourite quotes that really encapsulate the difference intandem makes: 

“It’s impacted my life choices a lot.” Young person 

“He told me he’d learnt to trust again, which was nice to hear.” Mentor 

“She’s made me realise that not every person is there to hurt me.” Young person 

All families need support from others at times, and I’m privileged to be part of intandem providing that much needed support. 

To find out more about intandem and our local partners, visit our website. 

Susie White, 

Intandem fund manager 

Finding the right trustees with Inspiring Scotland’s Specialist Volunteer Network

Not only does Inspiring Scotland’s Specialist Volunteer Network (SVN) connect charities with professional volunteers to solve challenges, but our team are also on hand to help you recruit and train your Board.

Meet Bill Speirs, Board Director at The Jeely Piece Club

Bill was a practising solicitor from 1978 until 2021. He helped set up Clydebank Citizens Advice Bureau and was a Children’s Panel member for many years. He was a criminal lawyer, one of Scotland’s first employment lawyers, and later a leading practitioner in insurance litigation both in Scotland and abroad.  

He joined The Jeely Board in July 2018. The Castlemilk-based charity provides play and learning opportunities for children to help improve self confidence and self-esteem for children to carry into adulthood.  

Joining Jeely  

After chatting with the Inspiring Scotland CEO, Bill’s drive to start volunteering was clear. He then was introduced to our SVN executive Elaine who knew that through helping build and manage a very successful law firm, Bill had the right mix of skills to really add value to The Jeely.  

He joined at a time when the charity was going through a lot of change. The Board had to shift their thinking from a risk-averse approach to a more forward-looking one. 

Bill in conjunction with other trustees has been instrumental in helping navigate the structured change that has occurred over the last five years and the whole organisation now thinks and works differently.  

As Bill says, “Trusteeship is a good way to get involved, not in the day to day running of the charity but using the skills you’ve got to provide oversight, foresight and insight.” 

Where Boards can add the most value  

Bill believes a good Board should trust their team in the day-to-day activities and use their helicopter view to look at the big picture and maintain a focus on the long-term sustainability of the organisation.  

He used his analytical talents and got right to work helping the team at The Jeely create a new standardised HR recruitment process, which helped in the recruitment of a new CEO.   

He has also actively been involved with other board and staff members in improving and future-proofing other areas of the charity, including implementing improved safeguarding systems in the Nursery and Play Zone .The team were delighted with the changes as it cut down on  their admin time dramatically!   

Impact 

Bill finds his involvement with the Jeely personally satisfying, He is there for the love of it and he has been surprised as an emotional bond has been established. It means much more to him than simply giving back, he sees the difference the charity makes, and loves being part of it.   

Elaine McKenna, CEO at The Jeely Piece said, “Bill and Inspiring Scotland’s SVN team have been a massive support to the Jeely. We have had a multitude of difficulties that were required to be raised at our HR committee and Bill has supported us to overcome every obstacle.  

“I have only been in the post of CEO for nine months and can already see the change and dedication that Bill has brought to the Jeely. He is committed to all board meetings and his exceptional wealth of knowledge makes a big difference.” 

 

Support from Inspiring Scotland 

As well as being an Active Play and Outdoor Community Play partner, The Jeely has received support from Inspiring Scotland’s Thrive Outdoors team helping to develop the charity’s strategy and to create a fundraising plan, alongside coaching support to the new CEO and setting up an outdoor nursery. Recent efforts have brought in some more donations and helped the team look at new funding avenues.  

We look forward to continuing our work with The Jeely Piece and Bill!  

 

If you would like to find out more about how SVN can support your charity, please visit the SVN page.

 

 

Conference to help people with additional support needs get into employment to be held in September

Online conference aims to redesign sustainable employment opportunities for people with additional support needs in the South of Scotland. 

A conference focused on addressing employment opportunities for young people with additional support needs in the South of Scotland will be hosted by the Additional Support Needs (ASN) Learning Network on Friday 8 September 2023. 

The South of Scotland is home to more than 5,000 young people with additional support needs, and research shows that school leavers and young adults in this group have extremely low opportunities in the job market, with national employment rates between 4-8%.  

Funded by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and facilitated by Inspiring Scotland, the ASN Learning Network was founded in 2021 after ideas emerged from local organisations The Usual Place of Dumfries and Borders Additional Needs Group (BANG) in the Scottish Borders, on how to create meaningful change for people with additional support needs in the South of Scotland through employment.  

The interactive online conference will showcase where gaps are in service provision and provide insight on people’s experience of accessing employment, aiming to influence the redesign of employment support in the area.  

Oliver Mundell MSP for Dumfriesshire and Chirsty McFadyen, Knowledge Exchange Associate from the Fraser of Allander Institute will deliver keynote speeches, alongside workshops and Q&A delivered by those with lived experience.  

Sally Cavers, Fund Manager at Inspiring Scotland said,

“Economic inclusion of people with additional support needs helps individuals and communities to thrive. We know through our work at Inspiring Scotland, the third sector can be a vital partner to employers and individuals providing support and guidance to ensure success. 

“We want to make sure the learning from the ASN Learning Network is used to support the vision of the regional economic strategy and maximise investment into the South of Scotland, making it an inclusive region for all. 

“We welcome anyone with an interest in additional support needs and employment to attend the conference on Friday 8 September. Perhaps you are a staff member or volunteer in the charity or public sector, or a private sector employee. You could be someone in the region with an additional support need, or a parent or carer. The key is that you want support in positive change in the South of Scotland for this group of people.” 

The ASN Learning Network pilot is due to finish in October. It is hoped the conference will help create a legacy for further work to continue.  

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) said,

“One of the six key priorities in SOSE’s Five Year Plan is our commitment to Fair Work and Equality.

“As part of this commitment, we want to work with the Third Sector to support their ability to deliver vital employability support to groups such as young people with additional support needs, which is why we supported the creation of the South of Scotland ASN Learning Network in 2021. 

“The culmination of this two-year pilot is the ASN Learning Network Conference, which is an excellent opportunity to reflect on what has been learned in the last two years as well as look ahead and discuss how partners across the South can work together to better support young people with additional support needs to find rewarding employment.” 

Heather Hall, CEO at The Usual Place said,

“The South of Scotland is home to many gifted, talented young people with additional support needs, who are looking to get a good job with a decent income. To take their place as full and equal citizens’ young disabled people want to have opportunities to build on their strengths and to develop the skills that employers across South of Scotland are looking for.  

“We know that local employers are looking for employees to fill vacancies and are more aware of talented disabled young people seeking employment. These employers are progressively more open to developing their, ‘Employer-Ability’, skills in attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce.  

“This conference is an opportunity to bring people together who want to see the South of Scotland lead the way in changing the current poverty of opportunity and ambition along with low employment rates for disabled young people in Scotland.” 

Pauline Grigor CEO Borders Additional Needs Group (BANG) said,

“I welcome support from both SOSE and Inspiring Scotland to enable us to highlight the significant importance of meaningful change when addressing employment opportunities for young people with additional support needs.  

“What drives change is a willingness to think ‘outside the box’, adopt reflective practice and person-centered whole family approach. We must value the contribution that a diverse workforce can bring to local economic growth across the South of Scotland and value trusted relationship our vast third sector brings to a cultural shift in our approach to positive destinations and employability.”   

Tickets are free for the event and can be reserved here. 

Autistic Adult Support Fund open for applications

The Autistic Adult Support Fund launched today (Wednesday 16th August 2023) aiming to help adults with an autism diagnosis, self-identified autistic adults, and their families and carers understand what neurodivergence means for them and improve their wellbeing. 

The Autistic Adult Support Fund will provide £500,000 for the six-month period from October 2023 to end of March 2024.  

Facilitated by Inspiring Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, the Autistic Adult Support Fund builds on the work of a pilot which ran between 2020 and 2023 and funded seven organisations to provide post diagnostic support to autistic people. 

Erica Judge, Director of Funds at Inspiring Scotland said:  

“We are pleased to manage this fund from Scottish Government which will ensure that more autistic people and their families can help better understand their diagnosis by accessing the support they need. 

“We know that there is a great need for this programme due to feedback from people who had received support from the pilot project, describing it as life changing.

“Funding will be available for Scottish not-for-profit organisations working closely with autistic people to help close the gap in provision of help and support to this community.” 

Small grants of between £15,000 and £30,000 are available to support smaller, grassroots, locally based projects. Large grants of between £30,001 and £75,000 are available for national or regional projects.  

Funding is available until 31 March 2024. It is hoped that this fund will run on a recurring annual basis but is subject to Ministerial approvals as part of Scottish Government’s annual budget process. 

The deadline for applications is 12pm on Wednesday 13 September 2023. 

For more information and how to apply, please visit inspiringscotland.org.uk/autistic-adult-support-fund

Support in the Right Direction 2024 – 2027 fund open for applications

A new phase of the Support in the Right Direction (SiRD) programme was launched today (Wednesday 12 July) to fund independent support services and help people use self-directed support options to organise and manage their social care and support across Scotland.

Running from April 2024 to March 2027, applications are now open until midday on Friday 15th September 2023 for the fund, which will see £3m per year available across Scotland.

The SiRD programme is funded by the Scottish Government and is managed by Inspiring Scotland, and aims to ensure that people who use social care have access to independent support, advice, and advocacy, wherever they live in Scotland.  

Self-directed support is an integral part of social care, giving people choice and control over the type of support they want, who provides it and how it is delivered. Independent support, which SiRD will focus on helps people get information and advice on social care and the range of self-directed support options in order to choose the best option for them. Without it, care users and carers might not be able to access the social care they need, or make use of it in the way they would like.  

Previous rounds of funding through SiRD have increased and maintained delivery of independent support across Scotland for people who require social care. Since 2018 more than £11 million has been invested. This investment has supported more than 14,000 people and families to plan and implement the social care support they need to live a good life. 

Independent support services can now apply for SiRD funding to deliver independent support between 1 April 2024 and 31 March 2027. For more information and how to apply, please visit inspiringscotland.org.uk/support-in-the-right-direction-2024-2027/ 

Applications close midday on Friday 15th September 2023. 

Creative Communities Glasgow programme launches

The Creative Communities Glasgow programme launched today (Wednesday 24 May 2023), thanks to £745,000 funding from Glasgow City Council’s Communities and Place Fund, part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

Facilitated by Inspiring Scotland, the new Creative Communities Glasgow programme will support community organisations in the area to develop and run cultural and creative projects with a focus on wellbeing for those who may face barriers to accessing cultural activities. 

Applications are open until 30 June 2023 for grants up to £80,000, and the programme will run from August 2023 until March 2025. 

Erica Judge, Director of Funds at Inspiring Scotland said:

We know from the work the Inspiring Scotland team has done so far through our previous Creative Communities programme that there is a need and great appetite for these projects in Glasgow, where there is also an incredible hub of creativity and network of peer support already in place to build upon. 

 

Each Creative Communities funded project is community-led and as a result is unique, personal, and reflects the strengths, interests, priorities and talents of the people taking part.

 

Taking part in cultural activity is known to have many benefits including strengthening community ties, improving mental wellbeing and reducing loneliness. We would encourage applications from community-based organisations in Glasgow seeking to explore people and communities’ creative sides and experience the benefits in terms of building relationships, improving happiness, and providing stigma-free pathways to other forms of support for those who need it.”

 

Previous Glasgow projects included Maryhill Integration Network’s Museum of Things project, which supported refugees and asylum seekers to create an exhibition of objects related to their experiences of leaving their home countries and becoming New Scots, and Stronger Together Enterprise, who provided dance and drama classes to children and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds.  

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:

“The Creative Communities programme will support local organisations in Glasgow develop and run creative projects which will help the wellbeing of people in communities across the city.  Previous projects of this kind in Glasgow have brought real benefits to a range of different groups.”

Applications and further information are available at the Creative Communities Glasgow web pages  

The application deadline is midday 30 June 2023.  

Specialist Volunteer Network at the Tech for Good Summit

Inspiring Scotland’s Specialist Volunteer Network (SVN) team supported the Tech for Good Summit hosted by the Scottish Tech Army (STA) on Thursday 20th April. In this blog Tommy Seymour highlights the important work done by the SVN and STA, as well as his key takeaways from the event.  

‘Come ready to listen, leave ready to act’ was the strapline of the third annual Tech for Good Summit, hosted by our friends at the STA. Since the STA’s inception in 2020, they have recruited over 2,000 tech volunteers and have worked with more than 300 organisations across Scotland.  

Both the Inspiring Scotland’s SVN and STA provide a powerful and unique resource for the Scottish Third sector, and the last few years has seen a signposting partnership and collaboration develop with a number of Specialist Volunteers donning STA hats, and vice versa. 

This partnership was shone under the spotlight with Inspiring Scotland’s SVN Executive, Elaine Crichton, joining Joanna Allen – Head of Projects and Programmes at STA, and Dr Jansev Jemal – Director of Pro Bono Economics; for a panel discussion on ‘Skilled Volunteering – Opportunities for the Third sector.’  

In this panel Elaine talked about Inspiring Scotland’s SVN, of over 500 Specialist Volunteers who were called upon to support over 200 charities last year. Elaine was able to provide an example of the essential work done by the SVN, talking of a charity receiving a VAT rebate of £27,000 through the intervention of a Specialist Volunteer. An important saving as this equates to the salary for a project worker for a year in the charity sector! 

According to Elaine:

“When a tech request is made through SVN we find a lot of the time the issue is not knowing what you don’t know.” 

We have a number of incredible tech and digital Specialist Volunteers who can help organisations explore digital and enhance IT business systems so that they work for you 

Our Specialist Volunteer, Michael Woo – Associate Director at Protiviti, always stresses how there is a mindset shift needed to embrace tech, and not just submitting the IT support request when something breaks.  

Tommy’s Tech for Good takeaways:  

  • Alastair Forbes, Founding Director and CEO of STA, highlighted some key findings from an NCVO 2021 survey which stated 81% of charities changed how they used tech during the pandemic – and the Tech for Good movement, bridging the gap of what’s currently out of reach for the Third sector. He described a Tech for Good UK industry of 30,000 employees – which would effectively double if the wider UK Tech industry of 3 million dedicated 1% of their working hours to Tech for Good. 
  • Over 80% of UK charities see tech as an opportunity, with around 50% of those seeing themselves as just at the start of their digital journey. UK Pro Bono Association partner, Ed Mayo of Pilot Light, described skilled volunteering as good for business, with powerful messaging around “give back, get back.” 
  • Madeline Hutchinson, Global Head of Tech Philanthropy at Morgan Stanley, whose Glasgow’s Women in Tech group supported the SVN with development days and a mentoring partnership over the last year. Madeline described skilled volunteering as Win – Win – Win! It provides Third sector organisations with access to tech; opportunity for volunteers to challenge and stretch themselves, gaining experience in end-to-end delivery; and for companies who support skilled volunteering to showcase talent development and retention.   
  • Fiona Burton, Managing Director of AND Digital, Edinburgh, explained skilled volunteering and the fundamental mindset of businesses and Boards who encourage it, as being visionary and future thinking. 

With staff and financial resources being stretched further than ever, it’s important that charity staff and leaders focus on what they do best – this is where support from SVN can step in.  

Even if you have a seedling idea, reach out to the Specialist Volunteer Network or find out more about our work and we can connect you with experts to support you through discovery and design, and plug you into the Tech for Good Ecosystem.  

Celebrating National Mentoring Day

intandem is a Scottish mentoring programme which supports young people looked after at home. Volunteer mentors make the programme possible and the reason we’re able to make a real difference in the lives of young people.

A consistent, caring mentoring relationship gives children and young people the foundation to overcome trauma experienced in the past and most importantly intandem, offers a place for a young person to have fun. Mentors also create happy memories with young people.

To celebrate National Mentoring Day, Rachael who volunteered as an intandem mentor with partner charity Move On  shares what it’s like being a mentor and why she got involved.

What interested you in becoming a volunteer mentor?

Hello, I’m Rachael! I’m 27 years old and live in  Midlothian.  I’m a full-time civil servant with a keen interest in photography.

I was interested in doing something to help kids in my local area and to give something back to the community. After a bit of research, I thought mentoring would be a great way to support and encourage a young person.

What sort of training did you do before becoming a volunteer mentor with Move On?

I took part in a comprehensive training programme with Move On before being matched with a young person . The training took place every Saturday for 10 weeks and covered areas such as: child protection, prejudice and discrimination, boundaries and identifying different types of abuse.  I attended each session and completed supplementary homework tasks.

What support is available to you as a volunteer mentor?

I had a dedicated development worker from Move On who was always on hand to give advice, updates and support. Move On also run regular training sessions which are open to volunteers to sign-up.

What sort of activities did you do with your young person?

We enjoyed swimming, trampolining and library visits to read my young person’s favourite book ‘Grampa’s Great Escape’ by David Walliams. On some occasions we would visit a café for a bite to eat and a chat. During Covid-19 we mainly went for walks in the local area. We would always take a pair of binoculars for birdwatching and an instant camera to take photos for my young person’s journal. We also list the birds that we see on our walk.

What did you enjoy most about being a mentor?

The thing I enjoyed most was our conversations. . He made me laugh and I enjoyed being in his company. He is intelligent and funny and always had a great story or interesting fact to tell me. I found it very rewarding. We had such a good trusting relationship and I am pleased that he felt able to talk to me about anything he wanted to.

What’s your best mentoring memory 

For my young person’s birthday, we went to the cinema to see the movie ‘CoCo’. We got popcorn, chocolate and tango ice blasts! We both enjoyed the movie so much we spent the whole car journey home singing the main song ‘Remeeeeeember me…’ from the top of our lungs.

What difference does having a mentor make to the life of your young person?

I think a mentor can make a huge difference to the life of a young person.

A mentor is someone who genuinely cares and always has an open ear to listen to the good things and the bad without judgement.

A young person can enjoy new opportunities, try something new, develop socially and grow in confidence.

What skills has being a mentor taught you? 

I have developed strong communication skills which I think is central to a successful mentoring relationship. I have found that active listening is key to understanding how a young person is feeling. Being responsive, by showing interest, empathy and understanding, made my young person feel confident in talking and sharing things with me. These transferrable skills are essential in many areas of life.

 

intandem is a national mentoring programme, managed by Inspiring Scotland and funded by Scottish Government and The Robertson Trust. Intandem supports a  portfolio of 13 partner charities, providing weekly mentoring for young people aged 8-14 years, living at home on a compulsory supervision order or in kinship arrangements.

Find out more on becoming a volunteer mentor.

 

 

Supporting Women, Reducing Harm: Supporting a National Conversation

In April, Inspiring Scotland’s Perinatal and Infant Mental Health team co-hosted Supporting Women, Reducing Harm, the first-ever national conversation on how services should care for families affected by substance use in the perinatal period.

This event was in partnership with Scottish Government, Perinatal Mental Health Network Scotland, NHS Scotland, third sectors partners and women with lived experience.  It followed the  2021 report Supporting Women, Reducing Harm.

Evidence shows that using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and the postnatal period negatively affects the physical and mental health of both mother and infant. There is a recognised need to improve the services available for substance-using women and their infants during this time and this was the starting point for the Supporting Women, Reducing Harm event.

The conversation brought together individuals and organisations with expertise in maternity and child care, substance use, and maternal and infant mental health, alongside women and families with lived experience, to develop recommendations on models of service provision for Scotland.

The attendance of so many stakeholders ensured a dynamic discussion that reflected the broad experiences of the participants. Over 300 people joined the day, representing many different sectors across the breadth and width of Scotland –  the Borders, to the Shetland Isles.

“One of the things that made this event so special was that it brought together a cross-sector audience from Scottish Government, NHS, local authorities, charities and more. Bringing together and leveraging that level of collective insight and experience will be key for unlocking the challenges that face women and families in Scotland.” Leanne Anderson, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Fund Manager, Inspiring Scotland

Prior to the online session, women with lived experience were interviewed to help shape the agenda and discussions.  During the day, Sharon Graham represented the voices of lived experiences and spoke impactfully, clearly stating that now is the time for action:

“We had a coming together of professionals and lived experience, working in collaboration due to having one thing in common, wanting the best outcome for those we support. The time has come to change the “us and them” scenario and for action to happen.”  Sharon Graham, Voice of Lived Experience

The event had really positive feedback from the attendees:

“This was an incredible, inspirational and truly exceptional event – very heartfelt and it was so good to see how many people were in agreement of supporting women and the challenges life brings to them. Captivating and extraordinary.  So pleased to see the collaborative recognition of this and great to hear from real people with lived experience” Attendee

“The passion and wish to collectively make a change was palpable. It felt like the right feet were around the table.” Attendee

Several key themes emerged:

  • It is important to take the time to listen to women involved and find out what their needs actually are (not to make assumptions)
  • A wide range of third sector organisations play an important role in delivering flexible, non- stigmatising support
  • Joined up services and solid wraparound care are critical as they make it easier to access support and avoid women having to repeat their story multiple times to different services
  • There is a greater awareness of the need to reduce stigma, given the clear impact that stigma has on women and their families accessing services

At the start of the session, Angela Constance MSP, Minister of Drugs Policy, announced a short-life working group to further examine the issues and make recommendations for future support.  Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, closed the day, thanking participants and assuring us all that the work would be taken forward.

In terms of next steps, Scottish Government are currently developing the process for membership of the short-life working group, more information on this will follow in due course, and Inspiring Scotland are creating a report based on all feedback received on the day.

We would like to thank all partners and attendees involved in the event and especially those with lived experience. Thank you for sharing your experiences so openly and honestly to help improve support for families across Scotland.

Further information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.

Artist and founder of the Stove Network, Matt Baker guests blogs on Creative Communities programme after attending its showcase earlier this Month.  

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Creative Communities programme – from those who first thought up the idea and made it possible – to everyone who has been involved in the 46 communities across the country. As an artist myself I know how exposing and vulnerable it is to put your artwork out in public view and I want to say a particular big up to everyone who has works in this wonderful show – you are all legends!

I am a community artist and when I look at works like these I find myself dreaming a little and reaching into what people are wanting to say about their world. And then imagining a little further into what was happening when they were made. I see the chats, the new friendships formed, the deals made in families to make the space to be there, conversations about shared places and people, the advice given on local issues, the dreams of change, the new skills learned and the new understandings of who we are as people.

Through this lens we see something fundamental about this approach to creativity and culture. We see how taking an active part in making culture, as participants, gives us so much more than the satisfaction of self-expression and making something to show to others. It creates new connections in communities, new stories and knowledge that bind people together in deep ways. Ways that combat the isolation and anxiety that plagues our society and leads to breakdowns in people, families and the fabric of community that should support us all.

As well as health, and skills, and justice benefits, these projects can spark new confidence and ideas that lead to new projects to improve places and sometimes even new enterprises and businesses.

Research study after research study has shown active participation in creativity leads to happier people and happier places. And yet we have all grown up with the idea that culture is not made by the likes of us, it is made by special people and our role is just to admire it, not be part of making it. Projects like this give us a glimpse into another possible world. A world where it is completely normal for everyone to be creative and be part of making the culture of Scotland.

  • Imagine if at school all our creativity had been nurtured, be that in singing, gardening, cooking, den making or making up stories.
  • Imagine if every town and village had a community festival where everyone took part and it was one of the ways that places welcomed new people into being part of their future.
  • Imagine too what such a vision would mean for those working in the arts. Long term jobs working alongside communities, jobs that would support other parts of their careers and help make amazing art that would put us on a world stage as a country, where we value things differently and put people first.

If we are going to move to a way of doing culture in Scotland that is centred on participation, then we need a plan that brings into being creative projects in education, in health, in community development and regeneration.

And we also need a progression pathway of projects like Creative Communities that work at the grassroots of places and start to build networks and skills so that larger projects can then take root in those places and arts workers can gain experience too. The sister project of Creative Communities is called Culture Collective, it currently has 26 projects of regional scale running around Scotland. Reading the Creative Communities report and looking at the great work in this exhibition, it seems obvious to me that Creative Communities could work as a learning pathway towards a Culture Collective project in these places in the future.

As a country we have a wonderful folk tradition of collective creativity through stories, songs and ceilidhs. In the context of Covid, the mental health crisis and the climate emergency we can see that the old solutions are just not work working anymore. They are tearing us further apart. We have to try something new, something that brings us together again. Creative communities has been showing the way in 46 places around the country and as we say in Dumfries “may it continues on!”.

Find out more about the showcase event.

Find out more about Creative Communities programme.