Development Diary - DTAS Conference 2019
Development Trust Association Scotland Conference 2019
Helen, our newly appointed Co-Chair and myself travelled to Cumbernauld this weekend to attend the highly anticipated for both of us Development Trusts Association Scotland 2019 Conference. It’s a long trip from Thurso to Cumbernauld and we’re very grateful for the sponsorship from Highlands and Islands Enterprise which allowed us both to attend. We’re home with ideas, information, contacts and a real enduring confidence in what we are achieving here in Thurso for our community.
The theme of this year’s conference was People, Place, Progress and it was astounding to hear from so many other Trusts about the progress they have made quite often in a few short years to their people and place. People being the inspiring factor, the capacity to get on and do on the projects that Trusts carry out throughout Scotland is amazing. From managing multi-million projects to develop, fund and manage community assets from hubs to woodlands to anything you can think of inbetween can almost to most seem impossible but there is a real dedication and determination from all the Trusts we met over the weekend. But it is the impact to communities that resonates, from affordable housing to bringing people in communities together and that all very important factor of Development Trust’s engaging across their communities to ensure that the needs of the people who live in their place are met.
I was fortunate to grab a last minute place to visit Healthy n Happy Development Trust which is based across Cambuslang and Rutherglen. Healthy n Happy have the ambition of making Cambuslang and Rutherglen the happiest and healthiest place in Scotland. Sounds like a lofty ambition? It isn’t, not when you see their organisation in action and meet the people involved. From the Chair, Vice Chair through to the Staff and particularly impressive volunteers it was clear it is an ambition that they won’t just reach but possibly exceed. They run a few different yet related projects from Biketown, a social enterprise which repairs, reuses and recycles bicycles and encourages cycling as active travel. Early years work and programmes which combat mental health and social isolation and now have a Hub Venue No 18 which provides flexible spaces. You can literally hold everything from a children’s disco to conference in the building. No 18 also houses a Community Radio Station CamGlen with 3 state of the art studios broadcasting entirely from volunteers. Super impressive. Far more than bricks and mortar it was the engagement within their community which really impressed, responding to needs and genuinely looking after people.
I could list all of the inspiring people we met and heard from the keynote speakers to workshops to the frantic and excellent speed networking session to all the networking that took place, but that would completely fill our website and keep me away from the important work of taking all of that learning and inspiration to work on our projects. So instead I will just give a few more lines on what really inspired me, the direction that we are all heading in. The day we returned home the Scottish Government announced their timetable for government for 2019-20, as I type this I’m watching the News. There are uncertain times in front of all of us. However, we spent the weekend with a movement of people who each working within their communities are working to collaborate with their people, their place, local authorities, other community organisations, local businesses with a core ethos of their place at the heart of their work. With kindness, compassion and a capacity and drive to make their communities better. Using an enterprising approach, care for the environment and kindness towards people with compassion for wellbeing. Reading the timetable from the Scottish Government, those aims and objectives, Development Trusts across Scotland are already on that page, half way through the chapter. Ordinary people like you and me doing extraordinary things because they care about their place. That’s what we’re taking home with us to Thurso and want to achieve here.
Well that and make sure Helen doesn’t get lost in Glasgow Premier Inn’s! (That’s a whole other story, if you see me in passing I’ll tell all!! Oh and one final note, being half a North East native I questioned Huw at Lossiemouth Development Trust pretty hard in a speed networking session about their East Beach Bridge which has recently had to be closed due to structural issues, genuinely delighted to hear on my way home that the Scottish Government are stepping in to fund a replacement. Check out the news stories on that and imagine the Ellan Bridge fell down or worse, a huge achievement and really delighted for Lossiemouth.
A huge thanks to all of the team at DTA Scotland for an incredible Conference experience, informative, inspiring, warm and welcoming. We felt taken care of throughout and quite honestly in terms of support for us as organisations you couldn’t find a kinder, more enthusiastic and supportive organisation to be aligned with.