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Young Start is back! £18m available for youth-led projects

August 30, 2018

Four young women playing steel drums and having funGreat news! From today groups across Scotland can apply for Young Start funding to help young people realise their potential. Following a brief pause to refresh the programme, Young Start is back with a life-changing £18 million pounds of dormant banks account funding available for projects that involve young people in their design, running and evaluation.

The Young Start fund previously awarded £29.5 million to 693 projects that have had an incredible impact on the lives of young people, helping them to become more confident, healthy, enterprising and connected to their peers and communities.

One of those young people is Ben, 19, from Motherwell who attends Youth Focus, a Young Start funded project from African Lanarkshire for Mental Health that supports young people to build their confidence through a range of activities.

Ben, who is currently studying building environment at Motherwell college, hopes to fulfil his dream of becoming an architect. When speaking with Ben, it is clear that he is a bright and confident young man. However, he explains that this is in sharp contrast to the extremely shy boy that he was just a few years ago.

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Why you should involve your community in your funding application

August 29, 2018

People In The Lead

We get more requests for funding than we have money to give out – so we’re always left with difficult decisions to make. Whether you’re looking for £500 or £500,000, one of the most important factors we use to make these decisions is the level of community involvement in the planning and delivery of your work.

We believe that tapping into local people’s strengths, talents and energy will make your project stronger and more likely to succeed. It’s also great evidence that the work you want to do is truly important to the people in your community.

So today we’ll be looking at why you should involve your community in your application. In particular I’ll focus on our most popular fund – National Lottery Awards for All – where community involvement is vital to the success of your application.

Here are our answers to your top questions on involving your community in your application.

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Developing evaluation culture in your organisation – a challenge worth taking on!

August 23, 2018

Colleagues around a table with documents and folders in front of them evaluating their workIn this guest blog, Louise Bowen from Evaluation Support Scotland gives tips on how to get people on board with evaluation…

Here at Evaluation Support Scotland we often ask participants in our training or tailored support sessions: “who in your organisation is involved in evaluation?’’

One of the key things we’ve learned over the last 12 years is that evaluation is more likely to produce really useful data for service development when people from across the organisation are involved, evaluation processes are built into their everyday work and evaluation is valued as a tool for learning and development – in other words, when the organisation has a culture of evaluation.

But how do you go about developing that culture? What if you’re the only person with responsibility for evaluation in your organisation?  Getting others on board with evaluation won’t happen overnight, but a starting point is to find out what makes evaluation valuable to different people – why does it, or why could it, matter to them?  Your colleagues, trustees and volunteers will all have different learning to take from evaluation findings, so the key is to help them understand why they can benefit from it.

The next stage is to identify ways that evaluation can be integrated into existing working practices and fit with the skills that people already have. This is all about taking it step-by-step to make evaluation a normal part of activities and conversations, rather than a hoop to jump through! We’ve developed the Making it Stick guide and diagnostic tool to help you work through the stages of embedding evaluation and check your organisation’s progress with developing an evaluation culture.

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Getting strategic with your social media

August 16, 2018

An abstract bundle of wooden board game cubes that also spell out the word 'like'In our personal lives, getting more out of social media usually involves looking at cute photos of piglets, or watching videos of babies having hysterical laughing fits. But how should charities and other voluntary or community sector organisations be using social media? Is it simply a tool for publicising the work you do, or can it help you achieve your organisation’s strategic objectives? 

When you start using social media on behalf of your organisation, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘vanity’ metrics such as likes, comments, shares and retweets. And I think it’s important to focus on these at first, to get an idea of what kind of content your audience does and doesn’t like.

However, once you’ve reached the point where you can effectively manage your social media channels, metrics such as comments and shares can start to lose their meaning, and it’s hard to translate them into real benefits for your organisation.

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How community ownership can ‘unloch’ the potential of local land

August 14, 2018

Loch and the sky above, with a wooden sign reading "Castle Loch Walk" and "Castle Lochmaben"The heart-shaped Castle Loch in Lochmaben is right at the heart of Dumfriesshire, and certainly has a warm place in the hearts of its residents. To mark Community Land Week 2018, in this guest blog Darren Flint tells us how community ownership of the loch has created new opportunities for locals and increased visitor numbers…  

In 2013 there were rumblings that the site was coming up for sale and the communities of Lochmaben, Royal Four Towns and Templand saw an opportunity, which they seized with both hands.

This initial chatter around the Royal Burghs snowballed following their enquiry to the helpful staff at the Scottish Land Fund, which boosted their confidence about what could be achieved. Lots of community consultation and legal stuff followed, culminating with the Scottish Land Fund awarding £198,500 of funding for the community purchase of this historic and wildlife-rich site.

I entered the scene in early 2014 as the site’s Project Officer. I wear many hats: habitat management to community engagement, encouraging volunteering through to media and promotion. These hats are certainly mixed, and designed to both protect the site and help the local community bring their vision to life.

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