A walking bus for school children, a community litter pick and a knitting club are just some of the results of the Church of Scotland’s Participatory Budgeting pilot scheme at Cranhill in Glasgow.
The original scheme set-up earlier this year shared £20,000 between Carrick Knowe Parish Church and Old Kirk Muirhouse in Edinburgh, St Andrews in Arbroath and Cranhill Parish Church in Glasgow.
Financial support for the project came from the Scottish Government’s Community Choices Fund, and was distributed to different organisations across the country with strong local connections as well as some public bodies such as Local Authorities.
More churches can apply
In the most recent round of funding, the Church of Scotland has recently been allocated another £39,590 to distribute to churches so that communities can support more projects.
As the project continues into 2018 it is hoped that more churches will join the scheme.
Following the initial pilot, the Cranhill Development Trust, which has been supported by Cranhill Parish Church in the Church of Scotland pilot has also been awarded £39,590.
They will use the money to work with One Parent Scotland to help reduce the impact of school holidays on family poverty and food insecurity.
A report on the work of the Cranhill Development Trust by Education Scotland praised the organisation as having “a positive life changing, and for some lifesaving, impact on local people.”
A spokeswoman from the Cranhill Development Trust said:
“The funds have made a huge difference to the some ;projects one being Re-Tune that was awarded £1000, Re-Tune supports ex-services and refugees work together to make musical instruments.
“Following on from the main event three of the projects that pitched and were unsuccessful have received donations from an MSP who attended on the day.
“Overall the main event was an excellent day and it was great having as many local people involved.”
From Brazil to Glasgow
Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a model that originated in Brazil and spread around the world.
It encourages groups to invite residents within a community to vote on which local projects should benefit from funding.
Rev Muriel Pearson of Cranhill Parish Church who was involved in the first PB pilot said:
“The benefits of participatory budgeting were far more reaching than I had ever imagined. More than 150 people took part in the voting, aged from eight upwards.
“Each person had five votes and there were 17 projects to bid for. In the end, eight projects received a share of £5000 funding.
“One of the benefits is groups learning how to put together funding applications and decide budgets. It’s a chance to give people a say.
“Sharing and collaborating is what matters in participatory budgeting – people starting supporting each other, helping each other in ways they wouldn’t have before.”
Scottish Government backed
By 2021, the Scottish Government and COSLA plan for at least 1 per cent of local government budgets to be decided by PB, potentially making £100 million available to local communities.
Ms Pearson said:
“I would encourage congregations to get involved when PB comes to your local area. It lets people see and share in the work the church is doing in the locality.
“I would also encourage congregations, perhaps in partnership with others, to host a PB event.”
To find out more about PB, please download and share this short film.
The first half of the film is an animation explaining what PB is, and the second half features interviews with ministers from two churches that took part in the project.
If you or your church would like to be involved in the second round of the PB project, please contact Chloe Clemmons here