COMMUNITY BENEFIT FUNDING: HELPING LOCAL PEOPLE WITH PRACTICAL PROJECTS AND ACCESSING EMPLOYMENT

Galloway Action Team is a Stranraer-based project set up by local people with support from local agencies including the Millennium Centre Stranraer, the Job Centre, Stranraer College, training providers and other third sector agencies. The project provides employment, training, and volunteering opportunities for people experiencing social exclusion of any kind.

Galloway Action Team provides a range of repairs, maintenance and construction projects across Wigtownshire and parts of the Stewartry in western Dumfries & Galloway. Clients include the Council, Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership, Loreburn Housing Association, local charities and community groups, the NHS, and private households. The Team is keen not to compete with local tradespeople and only takes on private jobs considered too small. These jobs are often unpaid and come via referrals from social services. As a charity, it seeks to cover its costs, but does not generally charge community, charity or low-income domestic clients. Instead it seeks ‘in kind’ payment and actively encourages beneficiaries of a project to get involved in volunteering on its next project, via a time-banking model. This ‘pay it forward’ approach helps build community capacity and cohesion. The Team also trades in skills and knowledge- for example it created raised beds for Alzheimers Scotland, and in return received Alzheimer awareness training for all the volunteers- very valuable to the Team’s work with vulnerable older people.

Wigtownshire and South Ayrshire community groups can access community benefit funds from the Kilgallioch Community Fund. The Fund, provided by ScottishPower Renewables, is linked to its Kilgallioch wind farm between Barrhill and Newton Stewart. A Board of volunteer residents makes decisions on awards, supported by grant-making charity Foundation Scotland.

In 2018, Galloway Action Team was just beginning to find its feet as a new independent group, and needed to cover the Project Manager’s salary and other core costs. An unrestricted award of £7,188 for core costs for one year from Kilgallioch Community Fund enabled the Team to secure match funding from the local Wigtownshire Area Committee, and the Common Good Fund. Combined with the Team’s own community fundraising, this enabled it to establish itself on a secure footing as a recognized, established local group.

Part of the Kilgallioch award was used to provide his first paid employment to a young former volunteer, who was able to move on to permanent full-time work with another employer as a result. Another young woman, abandoned by her parents aged 16 and with a related history of drug and alcohol addiction and crime, has been volunteering with the group 5 days a week, building confidence, skills and new healthier daily routines. In addition to these and the 20 other individuals who benefit from working or volunteering regularly, the Team helped an estimated 200 local people with practical projects. Many of these people were themselves experiencing challenges around poor mental or physical health, low incomes and social exclusion; and benefitted from the social connection with the Team as well as the direct service it provided.

Longer term, GAT intends to pursue commercial contracts with Housing Associations, D&G Council and the NHS, which would enable it to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on grant funding. It is already in discussion with CLD, who are seeking funding to commission GAT to provide practical work placements with pupils identified as underachievers at Stranraer Academy and Douglas Ewart High School in Newton Stewart.

The Kilgallioch Community Fund Board is made up of local people, and their local knowledge, combined with Galloway Action Team’s effective use of social media to engage locally, meant strong Board support for the Team’s work, and good knowledge of the project’s potential. The award is a good example of local community-led grant making; enabling local impact.

More information about Galloway Action Team can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Galloway-Action-Team-2033128653607789/ and information about Kilgallioch Community Fund can be found here: https://www.kilgallioch.co.uk