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Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to Fund Environmental Projects

One of the key sustainability concepts of Fair Share Trust is Environmental Sustainability, and many Local Agents are prioritising this work.

But how do you know if a project will make a real difference to the local community, and how do you ensure local residents’ engagement and the project’s environmental sustainability? The case studies below look at some of the work done around the UK and explore some of the challenges and successes of funding environmental projects.

1

Working flexibly

Project: The BTCV-run Toryglen Community Gardening Project.

Issue: It became clear that they would not be able to use all the funds which had been set aside for the final stages of the award period. This was partly because the community garden site which was originally identified couldn’t be developed due to difficulties within the local authority. There was a total £13,000 under-spend.

How problem was tackled: the Local Panel met to discuss ways of ensuring that the money was spent towards local priorities and completing the good work already underway. As the Urban Roots Initiative, funded by the Climate Challenge Fund on the back of the Community Gardening Project, was already well established and working on many of the same projects, the Local Panel invited Urban Roots to apply for the remaining amount.

Outcome: An application from Urban Roots to purchase renewable energy generators and some ‘features’ (e.g. play equipment and community art) for some of the smaller community gardens which had already been created around the area. Crucially, funding was still able to be directed towards improving the local environment for local residents, so no opportunity was missed out on.

2

Working with local people

The Fair Share Trust programme in Penilee (Glasgow) supported BTCV to deliver environmental improvements using local volunteers – the Penilee Street2Street Community Gardens Initiative. The main aim of the project was to recruit volunteers to offer renewal of open spaces in the local area, aiming to improve 15 front gardens and 5 open spaces. The objectives were; improving local skills and employability through environmental volunteering, and assisting local people who were unable to maintain their gardens. Volunteers would be trained to work alongside the resident to get the garden to a condition where it could be self-maintained in the future. As an external agent, BTCV Scotland relied on local residents to offer guidance on suitable public spaces for renewal. These locals were also able to support BTCV in gaining access to estate managers, consulting with local people and negotiating plans – processes which had been difficult in the past. A valuable lesson was learned here about the benefit of building relationships and working with residents as well as using local networks and knowledge. This approach not only assisted an external agency to develop projects and make contacts, but also ensured buy-in from local residents.

3

Working together

Finding practical projects that residents and users of the FOLD Community Centre in Little Digmoor (West Lancashire) could develop and run has always been an important aim for Fair Share Trust in the area. The creation of a new voluntary group called the ‘Dig-a-Little-More’ Community Food Growing Project was achieved in autumn 2009 as Fair Share support for the Moving on Allotment Project expired. The group is made up of three partner organisations: the school on whose land the allotment is based and who use the allotment as a base for their children to learn about food; organisations that rent space in the FOLD Centre and their user groups; and residents on the estate through the Little Digmoor Community Association. The great success of this project has served to illustrate the power that working the land can have in enabling people to engage socially together and collectively focus them on achieving a common purpose.

4

Working on waste

Kingsway Focus Composting Scheme is a pioneering food recycling project set up for residents of the Kingsway high-rise flats in Scotstoun (Dumbarton Road in Glasgow). Weekly door-to-door collections total over 500kg from 230 households, with residue processed at an in-vessel facility on the ground floor of one of the buildings. The resulting high quality compost is used in the community garden, also on site and tended by volunteer residents. Fresh produce grown here completes the cycle. The process produces 90% less CO2 emissions than sending the waste to landfill, creates employment and empowers the community to take positive action in an area with limited recycling opportunities. Participants report that they reduce their food waste because they now see how much is left over each week, and they enjoy contributing to a project that they can see in action, with local collectors and volunteers involved.

5

Working towards sustainability

An innovative project in North Lanarkshire – Nursery Needs – received funding from Fair Share Trust to develop a re-use scheme for children’s nursery equipment. This project was established to provide meaningful employment for adults with learning difficulties, while providing high quality children’s nursery goods at a reasonable cost to families on low incomes and community organisations such as nurseries, child minders and after-school clubs. The Fair Share Trust grant has helped Nursery Needs to move towards financial independence, building skills in the workforce, developing a strong reputation within the local community, and looking at new opportunities and community partnerships for taking the project forward. The main challenge facing the organisation is related to funding as they need to sell enough products to ensure their viability in the longer term. As a result, they have developed a number of initiatives in a bid to move Nursery Needs from grant funding to revenue generation through business activities. These opportunities have arisen as a direct result of the investment from Fair Share Trust which provided staff and management with the opportunity to develop new themes targeting employment opportunities, environmental action and revenue generation.

6

End of programme spend

The end of programme in Scotland has revealed that it takes considerably longer for areas to spend all funds than first anticipated. This has been due to project underspend and at times slowness of local panels to allocate remaining or returned funds.

Learning: it is essential that the levels of funds held by Local Agents and projects is closely monitored and contingency plans established for the spending of left-over allocated funds, to make sure all funds are spent as effectively as possible in neighbourhoods.

Flexibility of priority documents and budgets is a strength of the programme.

Learning: by careful monitoring of spend against budgets, you can make the most of this flexibility, and variations should be proactively requested when spend falls outside forecasted budget.

7

Further reccomendations

Establishing the programme

  • Require stakeholder engagement from the outset
  • Establish and pilot clear guidance right from the start
  • Find local identities from the start and ensure they are involved in decision-making

Grantmaking

  • Consider training for all decision-makers if establishing an unfamiliar way of working
  • Clearly separate support and assessment processes
  • Ensure projects set achievable outcomes

Working with panels

  • Ensure that lines of communication are clear
  • Ensure independent arbitration for difficult decisions and high-level planning
  • Keep panel members engaged until the end of the programme
  • Ensure the different roles of panel members and funders are clearly laid out

Monitoring & evaluation

  • Agree a basic set of outcomes & indicators from the outset

End of programme spend

  • Monitor levels of funds held to ensure under spend is dealt with quickly

Deadlines

  • Build into the programme a mechanism for ensuring final deadlines are met

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Page last edited Jul 10, 2017 History

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