A COMMUNITY programme has helped disadvantaged communities turn their lives around and delivered financial benefits of up to £6m.
The community project, known as Link Up, helps disadvantaged communities by using activities such as: gardening, cooking, sports, music and arts to teach new skills and help secure employment.
Link Up, developed by Inspiring Scotland, has been piloted in 10 communities across Scotland and helped over 9,000 people since January 2012. The scale of the improvements are estimated to have resulted in financial benefits of up to £6m in just two years.
An Independent evaluation of the programme has found 63% of people engaging with it felt physically and mentally healthier and more than half felt better able to cope with life.
The study also found that participation in Link Up contributed to a significant improvement in the perception local people had of their community as a good place to live.
Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland Chief Executive said: “Problems in some of Scotland’s challenged communities remain intractable. Inequality is growing and sadly too many people and communities continue to be defined by the issues affecting them. Link Up turns this on its head by using the strengths, skills and experiences of local people to bring about change.
“In the current economic climate we need to invest in cost-effective ways to deliver sustainable change at a community-wide level. The evidence suggests Link Up offers a real solution.”
Sir John Elvidge, author of the Carnegie UK Trust report, ‘The Enabling State’ was supportive of the report. He said:
“A key question in the widespread discussion generated by the Carnegie UK Trust’s work on the Enabling State is how the success of communities in finding ways to increase their own well-being can be scaled up and accelerated without smothering the vital role that people have in shaping the activities which are right for them.
“Inspiring Scotland’s Link Up programme makes a useful contribution to exploring that question, particularly through the breadth and variety of the projects supported.”
Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development, a leading consultancy on asset based community development said:
“The essential focus of Link Up has been local citizens; its primary question is deceptively straightforward: ‘how can we support them in their development efforts?’ Yet it is a question that few institutions authentically ask.
“Link Up proves that place based ground up community building is impactful and over time can be enduring.”