Appetite for community involvement in Scotland

The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey has shown that the majority of Scots think that local people should be involved in making decisions about the design and delivery of their public services.

With results showing a huge appetite for community involvement, 96 per cent favoured local involvement indecision making, while a further 35 per cent had either volunteered at, or help set up, a local community organisation.

Moreover, 61 per cent of those who responded to the survey believe that improvements can be made.

Orchestrated by ScotCen Social Research, the survey asked people about belonging to a local area and participating through co-production – volunteers and professionals working together.

The findings also showed that: 68 per cent of Scottish people feel they belong to their local area, with 88 per cent meeting socially with friends, relatives or work colleagues at least a few times a month; 61 per cent feel that improvements are possible in their local area; 35 per cent had volunteered at a local community organisation; and 17 per cent helped to organise a community event.

Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, said: “This report makes clear that there is a huge appetite within communities right across Scotland to get involved and make a real change in their local area.

“That is great news for all our local communities and we need to use the energy and enthusiasm out there and support people who so clearly have the ideas and drive to make their own local services better. We all want to make our communities better places to live and this will only be possible by working together and putting people at the heart of service design and delivery will enable public services to flourish.”

Susan Reid, author of the report, said: “This report shows that the public feel strongly that people should be involved in making decisions about how local public services are planned and run, and a majority think that people can find ways to improve their local area when they want to.

“However, we found that the public’s views on whether people can improve their local area varied according to where they lived: 77 per cent of people living in rural areas agreed people could find a way to improve their local area, compared with 56 per cent of people living in large urban areas.

“The challenge, then, is to understand the different dynamics of participation that affect different parts of society, such as those in urban and rural communities, so that people across Scotland can be supported to become more involved in making a difference to their local community.”