Executive Summary - February 2020

This Strategy and Action Plan is an exciting opportunity for citizens, the Council and Community Planning partners to work together in a new way. It's an opportunity to transform West Dunbartonshire's communities - by empowering them.

It will help people to be more active in community life - helping to increase peoples’ individual skills and opportunities, strengthen their communities, and make sure public services reflect community need. 

This Strategy has been developed through discussion and online consultation with residents and community groups across West Dunbartonshire. The next step is for us all to work together to prepare a delivery plan and to empower our communities.

Transforming and empowering communities is not a quick fix solution. It needs local people, the Council, other agencies and community groups to work together to make change happen.

Our Shared Vision

Across West Dunbartonshire, citizens, the Council and other organisations will work together to take decisions and improve neighbourhoods where:

  • Communities shape and influence services.
  • The Council and communities support and trust each other.
  • Community ownership and pride is encouraged and supported.
  • People are active in their communities and citizens of all ages, abilities and backgrounds contribute
    and work together.
  • Individual communities are resilient, involved and live healthy and fulfilling lives.
  • Young people are engaged and become the community leaders of the future.
  • Individuals and communities have fair access to work, wealth, and healthy and fulfilling lives.

An Agenda for Action

The Council, Community Planning partners and the Community Alliance will:

  • Promote understanding of what community empowerment means and how it can help communities do things for themselves and be more influential.
  • Collaborate by creating Empowerment Champions and learning together as residents, staff and Councillors.
  • Build confidence in empowerment by strengthening policy and removing barriers to people taking part.
  • Improve skills and knowledge for empowerment through training for communities and services on how to do it.
  • Adopt and promote the National Standards for Community Engagement to all Community Planning partners.
  • Provide resources for empowerment by ensuring that the spaces, support services and policies we need are in place.

The Delivery Plan

The Delivery Plan will provide more details on how we can all work together to achieve each action within the Strategy.

Ingredients of good community empowerment

  • Collaboration
  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Information
  • Resources
  • Support
  • Capacity
  • Confidence

For more information on how to get involved contact: empowerment@west-dunbarton.gov.uk

Empowerment Strategy and Action Plan

Communications Plan survey results

Awareness, knowledge and understanding Raising awareness, knowledge and understanding of community empowerment

Theme 1: Awareness, knowledge and understanding Raising awareness, knowledge and understanding of community empowerment
Outcomes Actions
Individuals, communities, Council and Community Planning partner staff understand what community empowerment means and how it can help individuals and communities.
  • Communications Plan to manage how the Council, Community Planning partners and communities should communicate to turn this Strategy and Action Plan into reality.
  • Make more use of Link Up West Dunbartonshire website for information and communication.
Council, Community Planning partners and communities are aware of the opportunities for community empowerment and the legal duties on public bodies.
  • Development sessions for all Council and Community Planning partner staff to raise awareness of community empowerment and how they can contribute.

West Dunbartonshire Youth Council

WDYC was launched in 2019 by West Dunbartonshire’s two elected MSYPs (Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament) and other young people who stood as MSYP candidates.

Their aim is to give West Dunbartonshire’s young people opportunities to engage in decision making, support them to identify issues that are important to them, and then make local change happen. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for young people to meet and work alongside other young people, youth workers, senior Council staff and Councillors.

At their launch event in September 2019, the Youth Council agreed priorities for their manifesto and local campaigning. Their priorities will also feed into the next National Youth Work Strategy 2020-2025 with the help of Youthlink Scotland. Supported by West Dunbartonshire’s Working4U Youth Learning team, members of the Youth Council have gained their Participatory Democracy Certificate. This develops communication, group decision-making and negotiation skills in the context of democratic engagement, and counts towards their level 5 national qualifications

Confidence Increase confidence for community empowerment

Theme 2: Confidence Increase confidence for community empowerment
Outcomes Actions
Local people believe in the value of community empowerment, especially those who face the greatest barriers.
  • Share good practice and communicate the benefits of community empowerment.
  • Up-to-date contact list for key people in the Council and other Community Planning partners.
People who face the greatest barriers have increased confidence from participating in community activity.
  • Remove barriers to participation in community activity like a lack of access for disabled people, childcare, transport and language, encouraging informal community support for people experiencing these barriers.
When considering local priorities, balance community aspirations and financial constraints.
  • Co-produce policy for good engagement based on the Council's existing community engagement framework.

West Dunbartonshire Learners' Voice Group

The Learners’ Voice Group is made up of learners from across West Dunbartonshire Working4U’s adult learning and literacies groups.

The aim of Learners’ Voice is to enable people to share the benefits of adult learning, and have a say in how it is organised both locally and nationally.
Members of the group meet every week. They have taken part in local and national events and consultations. With the support of a Working4U Development Worker, they organise the annual Learner Voice event that gives local people the opportunity to celebrate adult learning and influence its future provision.


Standards Set standards for how we work and behave in the context of community empowerment

Theme 3: Standards Set standards for how we work and behave in the context of community empowerment
Outcomes Actions
National Standards for Community Engagement are adopted for community engagement and service delivery.
  • Awareness and training on the National Standards for Community Engagement for the Council, Community Planning partners and communities.
The Council, Community Planning partners and community organisations have agreed ways of working together to deliver the Strategy and Action Plan.
  • Co-ordinate community engagement by the Council and Community Planning partners to make it easier for communities.

The Vale in Focus

A Place Standard community conversation

In October 2018, Clydesider Creative (a West-Dunbartonshire-based community media social enterprise) successfully applied for funding from the Scottish Government’s Place Standard Conversations fund to organise a series of participatory photography workshops and a community event. The aim was to encourage community conversations about the quality of life, place and space in central Alexandria and surrounding Vale of Leven.

The events were run in partnership with local social enterprise Inclusive Images and with support from Alexandria-based Loch Lomond Craft Centre. A local creative facilitator hosted an art workshop for young people so that they could creatively share their thoughts and ideas.

At the end of the seven weeks the workshop participants selected the photos which they felt best illustrated life in the Vale and captioned them. These then formed the backdrop for a Community Exhibition and Community Marketplace event held in Alexandria Community Education Centre. Local community groups, schools, policymakers and politicians participating in conversation café style discussions, using the photos being used to stimulate debate about Alexandria’s future.

The results were compiled into a Community Report which is being used by local groups to back up funding applications and is also influencing future changes in Alexandria, such as improvements to the town centre. A summary version of the report was published in the Clydesider community magazine which reaches 25,000 local people. Digital copies of the report are available from www.clydesider.org.

Collaboration Ensure clarity of roles and effective collaboration amongst Councillors, Council officers, Community Planning partners, volunteers and communities.

Theme 4: Collaboration Ensure clarity of roles and effective collaboration amongst Councillors, Council officers, Community Planning partners, volunteers and communities.
Outcomes Actions
Everyone’s roles have been agreed and are clear.
  • Clear online information about everyone’s roles.
  • Training for new and existing staff and volunteers about their roles.
  • Joint training for Council and Community Planning partners and communities, to bring people together and help mutual understanding.
Better joint working across organisations
  • Network of ‘empowerment champions’ amongst Council services, Councillors, Community Planning partners and communities to promote this Strategy and what it can achieve.
Better joint working across organisations
  • Revitalise the Community Alliance to lead communication with local communities and represent views to the Council and Community Planning partners on community empowerment issues.
  • Shared calendar of community events and activities, for example based on Linkup West Dunbartonshire website.
  • Ensure all community Planning partners and third sector organisations like Housing Associations understand how they can help deliver community empowerment and have agreed ways of working together and with their own communities.

Police Scotland Youth Volunteers

Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYVs) [21] are groups of young people are aged from 13 up to 18 across Scotland, supported by adult volunteers and a police constable. West Dunbartonshire PSYVs volunteer at community and national events to strengthen the relationship between the police and young people, breaking down barriers and promoting positive role models.

It is a practical way for young people to get an insight into policing and inspire them to participate positively within their communities – as well as gain self-esteem, team skills and awards like the Saltire and John Muir Awards.

West Dunbartonshire PSYVs have volunteered at events like the Lomond 10k Run, Bowling Spring Fest, Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Erskine Bridge Walk and Rock of Ages. Local organisations which have been supported include WD Foodshare, St Margaret’s Hospice and No Knives Better Lives.

PSYV will also be proactively working in their communities, looking to assist when they identify problems.

Skills Developing skills for community empowerment

Theme 5: Skills Developing skills for community empowerment
Outcomes Actions
Understand what skills the Council, Community Planning partners and communities need to make community empowerment a success.
  • Training programmes for all Council and Community Planning partner staff on community engagement and
Training opportunities are available locally to support community empowerment.
  • Develop new and improved ways of working with communities and delivering services.

West Dunbartonshire Greenspace Volunteers

The Greenspace Volunteers work with the Council’s Greenspace team on a range of conservation projects and maintenance tasks across West Dunbartonshire.

From wildlife surveys to woodland thinning, there’s a huge range of opportunities for folk to meet new people and help nature. At Balloch Castle, the volunteers have restored the overgrown meadow area at Balloch Castle Country Park to encourage more native species and wildlife. They also created a forest school there with a willow dome, wildlife viewing station, pond and planting trees and bulbs.

Other recent activity by the group includes wildlife surveys and practical conservation tasks at Brucehill in Dumbarton and the Saltings in Old Kilpatrick.

Resources and infrastructure Ensuring that there are sufficient resources, facilities and support to increase community empowerment.

Theme 6: Resources and infrastructure Ensuring that there are sufficient resources, facilities and support to increase community empowerment.
Outcomes Actions
Access to information, support and advice on community empowerment for local communities.
  • Publish clear policy and guidance on Asset Transfer, Participation Requests, Asset Register, Common Good Register and other aspects of community empowerment legislation.
  • Work together locally to provide space and support for community empowerment in each local community.
  • Co-ordinate all community empowerment support services to ensure effective delivery in local communities.
Good quality, affordable and accessible spaces for community activities.
  • Continue to invest in Participatory Budgeting, co-producing improvements with local communities.
  • Extend and improve ‘Your Community’ neighbourhood approach to local service delivery, linking it with community-led action planning such as Local Place Plans.

West Dunbartonshire ‘Your Community’

Your Community is a neighbourhood approach designed to enable all partners in local community life to make their best contribution to improving West Dunbartonshire. It is based on a belief that local people should be engaged, supported and empowered to direct how local services are delivered in their communities.

Resources have been focused on some of West Dunbartonshire’s most deprived and vulnerable communities to help create opportunities for local people to shape the future of their neighbourhood, establish ambitions and learn new skills. Local people, public services and the third sector are working together to improve local communities.

In Dumbarton’s Castlehill, for example, local people (including school children) went on a walkabout in early 2019 to agree with Council officers and the police what action needed to be taken – with the agreed priorities being tackling dog fouling, better recreation facilities, a community garden and a community family fun day – which took place in July 2019.

The Your Community programme runs in parallel with the Council’s Community Budgeting programme. This ‘participatory budgeting’ programme was developed in 2016 and is designed to give local people the power to allocate funding to local projects. The programme has evolved though each of the four phases organised so far in response to feedback from participants, including online voting methods.

Future phases will see further improvements. All sorts of community-led projects have received funding since 2016, from community arts to greenspace improvements.