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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Disabled-friendly space a first in Glasgow

 

Combined community effort

A community group in Glasgow has been praised for its pioneering commitment to support people with disabilities by planning the city’s first openly accessible activity space.

Hawthorn Housing Co-operative (HHC) believes that its new outdoor play and fitness equipment plan would provide a massive boost to families in its community in Possilpark.

The project is the brainchild of the Hawthorn Community Action Group, which is made up of local community activists intent on developing local green spaces and improving well-being.

Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) donated £10,000 through its Community Benefit Fund which has allowed HHC to progress activities and developments which they could not otherwise afford.

Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA), the disabled people-led organisation, said the plan is a welcome step forward in making parks and green spaces accessible to all.

Colin Turnbull, director of HHC, said: “The SPA donation makes a massive difference to our community and the quality of their lives.

“Our community action group was formed as a result of the continued investment from the SPA in recent years and the local people have been best placed to decide on where the grant should be utilised. It has resulted in greater social value and an increased quality of life in the area

“One of our tenants has a son who uses a wheelchair, and she raised the issue with the action group about lack of disabled friendly play equipment. We have since learned from the Glasgow Disability Alliance that there is a real need for more accessible play equipment in Glasgow’s parks.

“The group then decided to apply for further funding to incorporate outdoor fitness equipment as well so we could safeguard the health and well-being of both children and adults. The grant has been a tremendous help to us over the years, and will continue to play an important part in the development of our community.”

Ruth Hart, community development coordinator of the GDA, said: “It is hugely important that disabled people of all ages can access and enjoy our parks and green spaces.

“We met with HHC to share our experience of a project to install accessible play equipment in a Glasgow park which had been stalled due to covid.  HHC’s commitment to including disabled people’s experiences and access needs from the beginning of their project is a great example for other community groups and organisations.”

The HHC has so far received a total of £40,000 from the SPA’s fund over the years, which have supported a number of other projects, including developing a vegetable patch for the local community.

As a not-for-profit organisation, any surplus generated by SPA - which partners with public sector bodies to fulfil construction, refurbishment and maintenance contracts - is re-distributed into SPA’s Community Benefit Fund and Rebates. SPA’s 14-strong Executive Board members (made up of local authorities and registered social landlords) are eligible to apply for a portion of the fund each year to use for projects in their local community.

SPA works alongside Lintel Trust who manage the fund and ensure projects and causes support local needs and communities.

Overall, the Community Benefit Fund has handed out grants totalling nearly £500,000 over the last three years – as has helped to generate nearly £375,000 in match funding through the trust’s assistance, meaning it has helped to give Scottish communities a near £1m boost.

In its last financial year (2019-20), £130,000 was distributed to 15 projects across Scotland and benefitted nearly 19,000 people directly – with another £94,000 being achieved in match funding.

Clive Feeney, SPA director, said: “The fund is all about making an impact in our partners’ local area, to provide opportunity and prosperity to communities which would not otherwise have the means to fund their ambitions.

“This year we have been particularly focused on directing the Fund to support projects that bring benefits to people whose lives have been turned upside down because of covid.

“HHA’s ambition is precisely the type of projects we encourage with our Fund, and we are delighted that we can help contribute to the community’s plans.”

Projects undertaken through SPA totalled £237.8million in 2019-20 – up nearly 50% on the previous year. SPA also achieved a milestone in the last year by signing up its 100th registered partner.

SPA, which operates from a head office in Livingston, has a team of dedicated experts who are firmly focused on championing best practice and ensuring partners can benefit from access to specialist procurement solutions that deliver social value in its communities.

 

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