Communities working together to have a direct say in how public money is spent is important
We've invited Holly Hendry, Network Officer for the North of Scotland, for the Scottish Recovery Network to share her experience of #YouChoose3, a local funding opportunity where people based in Moray decided how best to spend funds to support recovery in the area.
Between October and December 2018, along with Moray Wellbeing Hub I was involved in supporting #YouChoose3 a Participatory Budgeting (PB) opportunity that tsiMORAY co-ordinated. Awards were allocated to local organisations under the themes of ‘Connecting Communities’ and ‘Be Healthy’.
Participatory Budgeting simply refers to local people having a direct say in how public money is spent.
This fits into a much wider context of community empowerment, active citizenship and participation. SRN’s role in this specific opportunity was to bring together key recovery themes from the CHIME framework (Connections, Hope, Identity, Meaning, Empowerment) to support the development of a truly recovery focused process from the earliest stages of applying through to project delivery and evaluation.
A different approach
I have previously been involved the development of PB opportunities through employment with tsiMORAY as well as participating as a member of my local community. Something significantly different stood out for me with #YouChoose3.
I think this is down to how the process has evolved and developed over time taking into account feedback from the community it serves. This approach felt very different to other funding opportunities.
Applicants played an active role throughout the process. They came together to support each other to strengthen applications, exploring both their own and others by taking a recovery focused and strengths based approach to do this. Projects were showcased at a friendly market place where the public, family and supporters could come and find out more about each project before casting votes on how the funding should be distributed.
Everyone was a winner!
In terms of the allocation of funding a 50/50 approach was taken. This meant that the groups with the most votes received the full amount requested, up to the first 50% (approx.) of the total funding available. Remaining applicants received a fair share of the rest. This allowed all projects to be allocated some funding. The money is obviously important; it’s why people are applying in the first place but by having the assurance that you will receive at least a contribution seemed to place a greater focus on the importance of participation and connection with other groups and organisations involved in the process.
There was a huge variety of organisations, groups and initiatives applying. Some newly established community groups and some well-established local services. The connections made between groups and the offering of support for one another’s projects was heartening. Regardless of size and structure there were many offerings being made.
Connecting our communities
Huge congratulations from SRN all the award winners from #YouChoose3! What struck me was that time and time again during the process I could see common recovery themes (CHIME) being echoed. Not just through explicit conversations but in relation to the interactions, stories and experiences shared between one another.
More and more often I see CHIME as a fundamental part of everyday life regardless of our experiences. It provides a framework from which to enhance communities, support collaboration and prompt conversations.
Ultimately it is something that can bring us all together as humans.
Network Officer (North), Scottish Recovery Network