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7.1 Group involvement

There are several ways in which local people can be involved in the management and maintenance of a site, ranging from the informal contributions of volunteers and site users through to formally constituted groups that are directly responsible for the stewardship of the site.

Groups to consider

Local authority management through the support of local groups and volunteers

In some cases, local authorities will agree to take on the responsibility of maintaining the site. In the Italian town of Modena, for example, the local authority recruits volunteers to help maintain public parks and other areas of urban green space. The local authority provides social club members with a budget and responsibility for the management of allotments and community gardens.

There is no guarantee that your local authority will be able to provide this kind of assistance but it is an avenue worth exploring. Speaking about this early on in the project with an authority representative is recommended rather than inquiring toward the end of delivery.

User Groups

Group involvement

Groups may have previously used a site in its derelict or abandoned state on an informal basis, for example anglers, birdwatchers or horse riders. It is often in the interest of these groups to become involved in the site management to ensure provision of their facilities.

Organised user groups may be able to contribute to the site’s income generation, through the use of fees or subscriptions. Free membership of a user group or a fishing licence for example, may also provide rewards for those who take on the responsibility of site stewardship.

It is important, however to try to balance user group requirements with the protection of a site’s ecological features.

Friends Groups

These are formally constituted groups made up of local stakeholders, including community groups, which have responsibility for the day-to-day management of sites and their future development. The legal status of a Friends Group may enable it to hold the lease for a site (or even take on ownership), control budgets and apply for future funding.

Groundwork has helped establish Friends Groups and assisted community members in acquiring new skills that have enabled them to participate in fundraising, decision-making and management on an equal basis with volunteer and local authority groups.

While groups such as Friends Groups can be the best stewards of a site in terms of providing direct community ‘ownership’ and site sustainability, it is important to remember that groups will often need ongoing support if they are to be sustained themselves and are able to develop. For more on this go to the Maintaining involvement section.

Development trusts

Development trusts are independent, not for profit bodies, often registered charities, committed to the involvement of local people in the process of regeneration and locally accountable. Most are seeking to build an asset base and generate income that will enable them to become financially independent and help them sustain their activities in the long term. Some have assets of over £200,000 and employ a large number of professional staff, while others are small and operate largely by voluntary efforts. They are actively involved in partnerships with local authorities, business, central government, local regeneration agencies and the wider voluntary sector.

Go to the next section - Maintaining the project profile

Useful links

Locality (formally The Development Trust)

Development Trusts Association Scotland