In a move to give people more say over how public services, community land and buildings are run the Scottish Government passed the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill in July 2015, with most parts of the Act now in effect.
The cultural changes expected from the Act is that the dialogue is no longer about organisations talking and making decisions with other organisations.
Instead public service providers need to be talking to people within the community making sure that everyone feels they are getting the services and community they want.
Running alongside this legislation is ‘The Equalities Act, 2010’ which puts a public sector equality duty to treat all voices equally and fairly.
This means that treating some voices as less relevant than other voices for some reason is not allowed.
It is believed that people feel better when they have a say about what happens in their communities.
They can make things better because they know what will work for them and their children.
Within a culture that gives equal priority to the voices within the community, community confidence can grow to create better places.
This can mean more jobs, more access to services and support, less crime, better health, and more equality.
However the Act comes at a time of uncertain political circumstances and austerity measures. People often don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ and are more comfortable to just sit back and let changes be made for them. However, these changes might not serve them as well as the changes they might initiate for themselves.
If you would like to learn more about the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act, and how to make positive change within your community, The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) runs a Level 8 ‘Empowering Communities’ module from Lews Castle College.
For more details please email firstname.lastname@example.org