Our Commitment to Addressing Equality and Inclusion in Community Ownership
Our Starting Point
Community ownership can transform Scotland, but it needs to include everyone. The Clyde Valley benefits from a hugely diverse population, and contains dense urban neighbourhoods where over 80 languages are spoken, post-industrial housing estates, and former mining communities. The city of Glasgow is growing, with many New Scots joining us – between 2015 and 2019 Glasgow’s population increased by 4.4%, more than twice the rate of change in Scotland overall. Challenges of disadvantage persist, with 44% of the city’s population living in 20% of the most deprived areas in Scotland.
A review of the impacts to communities from vacant and derelict land suggests disproportionate negative health and wellbeing impacts on communities in areas with more deprivation. In addition to high levels of deprivation, the Clyde Valley contains 79% of the vacant and derelict sites on the vacant and derelict land register.
Recent research shows that people living in the most deprived areas are less likely to be involved in land-use decisions. This research also shows a strong level of interest in getting involved.
The level of interest in getting involved is encouraging for community ownership and land reform. However, the process of becoming a community owner is often technical and complex, and can take a long time. At the outset community ownership often relies on volunteers. There is a risk that communities with more volunteer resources will be better placed to progress their ideas. It is also Community Land Scotland’s experience that external agencies can have a misplaced lack of confidence in what groups from disadvantaged areas can achieve. This all leads to inequalities in communities accessing the funding and support available to take control of local land and buildings that are important to them.
Hard data on inequalities for existing community ownership in the Clyde Valley is limited. For all of Scotland in recent years, transfer requests for publically owned assets were higher in the more disadvantaged communities than in less disadvantaged. This indicates there is strong interest in community ownership from those in areas with less resources. However, there is evidence that this interest isn’t progressing into ownership; for example in 2019 across Scotland, only 8.6% of community-owned assets were held by communities in the 20% most deprived areas. It is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that all communities can benefit from community ownership.
In our experience communities with resource challenges have some of the most creative solutions to their problems. This is typically because they know best what their local area needs, and community ownership governance structures are effective at including anyone who wants to be involved. This can produce exceptional results. There are impressive examples in our case studies.
Research and our experience show that getting additional resources to communities, with better signposting and earlier advice, could be key to translating initial interest in ownership to successful community buy-outs.
We also need to ensure that community ownership promotion and support is inclusive. For example, information should be in accessible formats and languages, events must reflect diverse accomplishments, and respond to diverse needs, etc.
Finally, community ownership expertise is held by a range of people, including those working in communities, support agencies, and advisors. The diversity of perspectives means that different experiences are brought to community ownership projects, and we have learning to do to understand what is needed to be fully inclusive.
To create a more equal, fairer society through community ownership, we need to make progress on equality in community ownership.
Our Work So Far
We are early in our diversity and inclusion journey, but we are committed to supporting people of all backgrounds and from all areas.
We understand we have a lot to do, and we are committed to ensuring equality, diversity, and inclusion are ingrained within everything that we do.
We are researching appropriate organisational commitments to sign up to, providing structure and as a statement of our commitment to addressing these issues.
We are committed to sharing our learning on diversity and inclusion.
Our plans for the next year
One of the Community Ownership Hub’s objectives for the next year is to conduct action research on diversity, inclusion and equality in community ownership. This will include:
- Developing a diversity and inclusion operational plan for the Community Ownership Hub.
- Improving our understanding of the needs of those we are helping, and refining our approach if needed.
- Reviewing our promotion work to ensure it champions under-represented groups, and is inclusive and accessible.
- Providing a pilot Tailored Support Fund to provide additional resources to those in areas with less resources.
- We know that community owners are doing amazing work including those diverse needs and different interests. We want to support this expertise and share their learning.
- Developing recommendations on how best to support inclusion and equality in community ownership.
- Reviewing our progress on all of this, and sharing our learning – including next steps.
Get in touch if you have any questions about this. We always welcome input and collaboration.
References are linked in the text above.