I've taken on the role as Board champion for Possil. Members of the Board have been allocated particular places and themes to learn from - helping to ensure that our contributions around the Board table are based not only on our role within an organisation, but on what we are seeing happen in communities across Scotland. Over the past few weeks I've been able to make three visits, and have found every one of them energising, thought provoking and at times moving.
NG Homes organises a regular networking breakfast for over 50 organisations that work in the local community. That was last Friday, the day after the General Election. The room was buzzing, despite some late nights. To be honest, I didn't hear much discussion about the election. But lots of discussion about how organisations could work together more effectively, and how local challenges could be solved - from the re-opening of the nearby sports centre and the improvement of the main street to the provision of activities for young people during the summer holidays. It was great to see the statutory services providers - Police Scotland, NHS and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service among others - rub shoulders with small voluntary organisations, churches and members of the local parent council. They engaged together naturally and informally. There was space to challenge and ask hard questions, but also a real sense of shared endeavour. I think this is helped by the fact that the Community Planning Partnership is taking forward work in the area under the banner of Thriving Places, which really complements the approach we are taking with the Building Safer Communities Programme. I'm keen to return and see the work develop.
After the breakfast, I met colleagues from Action for Children who are working in Possil and in other parts of Glasgow to support young people at risk of offending through the provision of mentors and other support. It was great to hear about the way in which young people are being impacted by positive role models. The work is still at an early stage, and I'm eager to see how it develops and the impact that it has on reducing crime and improving the wellbeing of young people in the area.
As a Board, we know the evidence about what will work to reduce crime. And we see great examples of local work that is making a difference. Some of the issues that we are grappling with include:
- When good local practice should be scaled up and applied in other areas of Scotland, and how best this can be done;
- How those working in an area can ensure increased coherence and join-up, with clarity as to the collective aim; and
- How local and national Government play its role most effectively in leadership and support, without falling into the trap of "doing things to" people and places rather than "doing with".
Please use this Building Safer Communities site to share to share experience of what works, or contact the team to discuss further.
Paul Johnston is Director of Safer Communities for the Scottish Government and chairs the Building Safer Communities Programme Board.