In 2012 we introduced a new suite of SURF Award categories to better reflect the full range of regeneration activity; from multi-million pound infrastructure projects to more modestly resourced community-run processes, The five categories were:
- Community Led Regeneration
- Sustainable Place
- Infrastructure and Regeneration
- Creative Regeneration
- YESS to Jobs (Youth Employability and Skills Services)
Over 50 project applications were considered by our 20-member independent judging panel over an intensive six-week process of assessment and visits. Four judges in each of the five category teams were tasked with selecting three short-listed initiatives in each category and ultimately selecting just one winner.
Themes and Trends
Extensive partnership working is evident in all of the regeneration initiatives featured here. An ambitious and sustainable regeneration project will typically bring together community members with local businesses, local authority partners and other important stakeholders such as schools, colleges, and relevant national agencies. Our judging panel recognised that the tact, time and effort required for both short and long term partnership processes is extensive but also vital.
Heritage has been another strong trend in this year’s SURF Awards. When financial support is restricted, identifying and developing the value of existing local assets – whether an unused pub, a historic World War II site, or traditional regional crafts – can present an excellent platform for generating enthusiasm, enterprise, and wider action. The prominence of social enterprise as a flexible and engaging model for the business of regeneration was also noticeable.
The SURF Awards for Best Practice in Community Regeneration 2012
The Playz was selected as the winner of the 2012 SURF award for the Community Led Regeneration category as it demonstrates all of the characteristics of a truly community-led initiative. The initiative has successfully transformed a former ‘no go’ area in the shadow of a derelict public house into a welcoming hub at the heart of the community.
The scale of local engagement concerning the design and sustainable use of the refurbished hub was impressive, the consequence of which is an expressed sense of community ownership and pride. There is a high level of youth participation in all aspects of the project’s development and operation, from involvement in – and running of – activities in addition to the key management role.
The judging panel were further impressed by the excellent practice in partnership working; on occasion, the project has engaged in barter arrangements to ensure best use of all local assets.
The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme was selected as the winner of the 2012 Sustainable Place category. The initiative has successfully brought the area’s communities together to explore positive opportunities and address some long-standing challenges around the recognition of local history and deterioration of buildings.
The project brings together over 50 organisations to better enhance and promote the diverse heritage of a historic rural area of north east Scotland. The ultimate goal is to provide an increase in investment and local capacity to create a sustainable and lasting benefit for local people and visitors.
Among many other developments, local museums have been transformed to aid their long term viability and make them more attractive to tourists. Educational opportunities have been enhanced through resources for schools, school trips and an extensive programme of lifelong learning and training. New access has also been provided for coastal walks.
The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust was chosen as the winner of the 2012 Infrastructure and Regeneration category.
The Trust was formed in 2002 to enable a buyout by the local community. The buy-out was prompted by the risk of a sale to another party resulting in the population being evicted and the need to address a lack of investment over a number of years.
2012 marked the 10th anniversary of the successful community buyout. There have been significant successes in the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects, specifically housing, which has improved island life for existing residents and attracted new ones.
Since the buy-out, the community has maximised the potential of community owned assets like the Achamore Gardens, preserved heritage assets like Kilchatten Chapel, and developed the first community-owned, grid-connected wind farm in Scotland. The cornerstone for the success of these projects has been the regeneration of affordable and appropriate rented housing – a factor affecting depopulation. This has drawn people back to the island.
The 2012 award for Creative Regeneration was given to the Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group. The project aims to revitalise a rural community with an ageing, elderly population and declining school rolls and provide long-term economic and social sustainability using approaches based on local arts, heritage and culture.
The Group has established a number of creative projects to meet its aims. These include the construction of a community treehouse that functions as a unique venue for meetings, cultural events, music sessions, and educational opportunities for local residents of all ages. The Strathcarron Treehouse was profiled on a Sky TV documentary in December 2011.
Another key project is the development of two multi-use workshop units that are leased to local craft and heritage businesses. Among other things, these businesses deliver training workshops in traditional and environmental skills across a myriad of areas such as spinning, quilting, basket-weaving, eco-sculpture, bracken spraying, and timber fencing. In addition to providing useful skills to local residents, these courses improve community networking and address social exclusion by providing new opportunities for marginalised groups.
ng2 Ltd was the winner in the YESS to Jobs (Youth Employability and Skills Services) category.
ng2 Ltd specialises in facilities management. Its main aim is to integrate the interests of residents and business owners in north Glasgow regarding their physical and living environment with the needs of unemployed young adults. It does so by providing a professional environmental and facilities management service to clients that incorporates a training programme and full-time employment opportunities for younger adults.
It has achieved a 60% job success rate for young unemployed adults, a turnover of £100,000 per month, a surplus of £25,000 per annum and a very satisfied and extensive client-customer base. It has recruited 47 trainees, including 13 referred by another organisation for work experience. More than 50% of trainees recruited since Sept 2012 have either gained full-time employment directly with ng2 Ltd, gone onto other employers or have gone back into full-time education.