Community-led approach to tackle sectarianism

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Voluntary Action Fund (VAF) and the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) have been awarded a contract by the Scottish Government to develop pilot community-led projects across Scotland to help tackle the issue of sectarianism.

The pilot is part of a wide-ranging plan of action to tackle the root causes of sectarianism in Scotland announced by Minister for Legal Affairs and Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham on Wednesday.

VAF and SCDC say that as communities across Scotland are affected by this issue it is from communities that effective solutions will be developed, implemented and led. 

The organisations argue that in order to challenge sectarianism in Scotland, there is a need to engage communities themselves, as they will have direct experience and knowledge of the issue and have the ideas and connections on the ground to challenge it.  

In a joint statement the groups say that approaches to tackling sectarianism that are grounded in communities, evidence-based and community-driven stand a greater chance of being sustainable and to help bring about the behavioural change which is so vital in tackling the issue.

This approach being piloted on behalf of Scottish Government by VAF and SCDC echoes the sentiments of the Christie Commission which recommended much greater levels of community participation in the design and delivery of public services.

VAF and SCDC will complement each other’s strengths in community engagement and capacity building with both organisations having a long history and successful track record of working with communities on challenging issues such as equalities and community-led health improvement initiatives.

Keith Wimbles, the Voluntary Action Fund Chief Executive, said “The Voluntary Action Fund welcomes the opportunity to test community-led approaches to addressing sectarianism.

“We have always believed that communities themselves should identify local challenges and are best placed to develop responses to social issues such as sectarian attitudes and behaviour.

“We are therefore very pleased to be working with communities to develop approaches that meet their needs and respond to local circumstances.”

David Allan, Head of Programmes at SCDC commented: “There is increasing recognition by Government of the value of community-led approaches to tackling issues of concern and the need to involve communities and community organisations as key partners in effecting change.

“Through these pilots SCDC are delighted to be working with communities to help them develop their own action plans to dealing with this issue”.

The contract will run from December 2011 to March 2012 and will involve VAF and SCDC in supporting 7 local organisations to develop community-led responses to sectarianism.