Corra realised that there were many areas of Scotland where grants and services were not reaching. People in Place is the Corra Foundation’s flagship place programme to address this. It works in nine under-served communities in Scotland.
Corra worked closely with Evaluation Support Scotland to develop the evaluation and skills of staff to implement an action learning approach. The programme relies on ‘community coordinators’ from the areas in question, who come together to share learning and adapt activities.
We are not about predefined outcomes. Communities know what they need, we are just a facilitator. They know more about how their area works.
There is a flexible approach to working in a place and the programme is tailored to each communities’ needs. Each community has a dedicated ‘community coordinator’, with further support from Corra. For example, in Fernhill, the community coordinator works from the local community centre and churches and supported the volunteers there.
Meanwhile in Buckhaven, the community coordinator has supported a local participatory budgeting process to involve people in locally distributed funding. There are robust learning and adapting mechanisms to share knowledge internally and externally.
Understand context: On average Corra spent approximately six months researching and mapping the local context before appointing a coordinator. Community coordinators are immersed in their areas. There is a strong emphasis on listening and learning from those living and working in communities. The organisation highlighted the importance of finding agenda-free spaces in the community where people can meet and do things that matter to them.
Think long term: Corra commits to working in a community for as long as they need. The Foundation has been working with the first community for four years. It emphasises building lasting relationships first, instead of leading with money.
Learn and adapt: The Foundation stresses that it doesn’t go in with solutions. It works with local people to help them identify and develop their own ideas. It learns from conversations and uses the language people are comfortable with.
Build expertise: Corra focuses on the expertise of those with lived experience—listening and learning from those who know and understand their community, and the issues faced.
Partner with others: Accepting no one person or organisation holds the answer was really critical. The Foundation brought together a group of people and organisations that agreed where they would work and what it is they would work on. They agreed collectively the resources they would share or align to have an impact, and identified how they would know if they had made a difference, with clear progress and outcome measures.
Recognise connections: Corra described how place-based working often begins focused on one thing and ends up taking on lots of things. So whilst having a particular thematic focus at the beginning is helpful for having an initial focus, being open to where that one theme might lead is important.
The Foundation has collated some of the key principles they follow into a document: Place based Working in Scotland: Guides which was sponsored by the Scottish government and circulated to cross sector collaborators and other funders in Scotland.
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