GoBeyond aspires to build ‘Community Wealth Building’ locality by 2030

Posted: 19 January 2021, in News

GoBeyond was initially a network, in South West Edinburgh, created just before the first Covid lockdown as a pro-active response to local needs. 

The people with a leadership role were CEOs of key anchor organisations, co-Chairs of the local voluntary sector forum, Space and Broomhouse Hub, Whale Arts and also Big Hearts Community Trust. We were supported by the Edinburgh CVS, EVOC, and a public health practitioner, which linked the network in with the Health and Social Care team and the City of Edinburgh Council. 

We met three times weekly, first thing, as the uncertainty was so great at that time. A Slack space was created to share resources and the priority was provision of food. The person leading the emergency food response in Space joined too. This food response started early and Space went to lead the food coordination with the other local agencies, when approached by EVOC and the City Council. Covid-19 increased demand for local support overnight, and through Slack, we came together to build a map of support. 

GoBeyond is now a network with over 200 contributors, including Council staff. The Covid-19 crisis through 2020 has demonstrated how our collaborative approach can benefit the whole community in times of need. This has stimulated a move towards building the first community wealth building locality.

When the opportunity emerged to apply to the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund via The National Lottery Community Fund, the organisations were able to present a coordinated rather than competitive approach. This led to three local funding programmes to support grassroots, community-based groups in Gorgie/Dalry, Broomhouse and Wester Hailes. 

It was also made possible by four local action networks that consulted and involved their communities and know the people, the groups not on the radar of public agencies, with opportunities for volunteer effort and priorities. These were in the three established areas but also Oxgangs and in the future, Pentlands. 

The three grant schemes brought this funding to over 30 small local groups. Examples included: St Augustine’s Rugby Club, Wester Hailes Litter Picking Group, Friends of Saughton Park, St Bride’s Centre, Love Gorgie Farm, B Healthy Together and Dunedin Canmore Youth Projects. 

This benefited the local population and helped multiple types of locally tailored responses, to reach the community in a more pro-active way. In summer 2020, a total of £55,000 in grants was distributed from Gorgie to Clovestone. 

With an estimated poverty rate of 22% in South West, including pockets of the highest child poverty across the city (35% vs 22%) the network is an approach for the long-term resilience and prosperity of these communities. 

GoBeyond aims to share expertise and organise resources. If we look to the Edinburgh Poverty Commission recommendations and forthcoming Edinburgh Climate Commission recommendations, an on-going collaborative approach, based on wellbeing economics and a greener recovery, will be needed to lead the Covid-19 recovery. Our aspirations are also to start a conversation with people who live and work in South West, and adopt a people-led strategy.

Community Wealth Building is a people-centred approach to economic, social and environmental justice for the wellbeing of a community. Preston (Lancashire) and North Ayrshire are two UK local authorities currently leading similar strategies, with South West Edinburgh expected to be the first people-led locality of its kind in Scotland. 

GoBeyond has been recognised as a purposeful network and can be recognised in Locality Improvement Plans by community planning partners. It might include business development to enable partners to access procurement opportunities, projects for green recovery, or other drivers for community wealth building by major anchors like NHS Lothian, City of Edinburgh Council and others, that deliver the results further afield. 

We aim to create a 10-year plan to build our approach. It will take courage to build, shining a light on the intrinsic value of people, communities, and assets – a holistic approach to development in South West Edinburgh. As well as attracting new investment into the area, it will open conversations with the Edinburgh Partnership and The Scottish Government, contributing to these strategies both locally and nationally.

Bridie Ashrowan, Craig Wilson and Leah Black, the GoBeyond Network, South West Edinburgh