Like others, I am grateful to Bob Doris for highlighting the creation of the Royston strategy group and the positive work that local groups have undertaken for the benefit of the people living in the Royston area of Glasgow. It is right that Parliament takes every opportunity to commend local initiatives that aim to make a real difference to people living and working in their local community.
Tackling poverty is a key priority of this Government. Bob Doris and Paul Martin talked about poverty in the Royston area. Our focus continues to be on maintaining and improving wellbeing for everyone living in Scotland. A community-led approach ensures that we tackle that at grass-roots level.
The Scottish Government’s regeneration strategy, “Achieving a Sustainable Future”, makes clear our continued commitment to community-led regeneration. We recognise the role that community organisations and the people within them can play in bringing about sustainable change. That is why the community-led approach is so important.
The creation of the Royston strategy group brings together passionate and active members of the local community. All members in the debate have commended it for that. Members of the group have come together with the aim of improving the lives of everyone who lives in their community. That is a fitting example of our regeneration vision.
Although a community-led approach is key, an asset-based mindset is also important. Although understanding where additional support needs exist, it is important that our collective focus is on the assets that communities such as Royston have, rather than the deficits of an area. To support communities to be sustainable, we must identify those assets—economic, physical and social—and use them to deliver sustainable positive change. With that in mind, we should always ask, “What makes this place good, where do the opportunities lie and what expertise and skills do local people have?” rather than labelling particular areas or groups of people.
The members of the Royston strategy group are locally based community anchor organisations that value the people who live in the Royston area. Those organisations are already working together to look at, for example, improving housing, employment opportunities and social cohesion. Royston strategy group’s purpose is to look at ways to enhance further the Royston community. All parties and partners involved are enthusiastic about the feasibility study that is under way to look at potential demand for a new community facility.
Through the inspireROYSTON group, the local community has also decided that it is fitting to celebrate 25 years of three of the most well-established organisations in the area: Royston Youth Action, Spire View Housing Association and Rosemount Development Trust. The celebrations began in April, with one of a number of community events, and they will continue until September this year. Events such as those further highlight the valuable impact of the work of volunteers. There is no better example of an asset to a community than the people themselves. It is encouraging to hear that the turnout for the events so far has been fantastic. The local community are fully involved in, and supportive of, all that is being achieved in their area.
The Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill will support communities such as Royston to achieve their own goals and aspirations by taking independent action and by having their voices heard in the decisions that affect their area.
Similarly, the Scottish Government’s people and communities fund supports more than 150 projects across Scotland. It is encouraging that Spire View Housing Association and Royston Youth Action—two members of the new Royston strategy group—are already benefiting from the fund as they continue to deliver regeneration projects in their local communities.
The Scottish Government will continue to support community-led regeneration. I am delighted to say that we have committed a further two years of funding for the people and communities fund for 2015-16, and we will shortly announce a date for the reopening of the fund. That will ensure that community-led projects can continue to be supported to 2016.
The newly created Royston strategy group also consists of a number of community-based housing associations including Blochairn Housing Association, Copperworks Housing Co-operative, Royston corridor homes and Spire View Housing Association. It is clear that we recognise the value of community-controlled housing associations. They know about the issues and needs of their communities. Meaningful regeneration is more than just bricks and mortar. Good-quality affordable housing is important to regenerate communities, but we must also tackle the social and economic issues that prevent communities from growing and flourishing. James Dornan and other members spoke about how it is right that we exchange information across different areas of Glasgow. We can all learn and benefit from sharing good practice. When something good is happening in one area, we can all learn from it and spread that practice. That is something that I would certainly like to see happening.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Royston Youth Action, when I met the local volunteers and beneficiaries of the service. I was impressed with their commitment and pride in their community, and in what they had achieved for it. That is what struck me most. I had a pleasant time in Royston seeing the garden and talking to young people who had been involved with their community for a long time and continue to be involved. I also visited the Rainbow hall for the start of one of the celebrations. It looked terrific and I could see that the atmosphere was building up to what I am sure was a superb afternoon.
It was clear to me that Royston has a cohesive community with many organisations that have worked together for many years. I hope that they continue to do that because I was very impressed with Royston Youth Action group. As a member has already said, a variety of ages are involved in the group and it was good to see that there are no demarcation lines. Everyone can be part of the group and that is what community-led regeneration is all about.
I congratulate the new Royston strategy group and the inspireROYSTON programme because they are fitting examples of community-led regeneration. I congratulate the group on its work and planning and the work that has already been undertaken on behalf of the local community. I wish the group every success in the future.
Meeting closed at 17:43.