To achieve the above aims Serve Scotland we will engage in a broad range of activities to support the faith community as it seeks to engage with vulnerable people in local communities. Core activities will include:
- Work with Christian faith community leaders in casting vision, sharing information, accessing resources, identifying best practice and making connections with those who have directly relevant experience;
- Identify opportunities for partnership, supportive relationships, pooling of resources within communities, networking of people and organisations;
- Support churches and organisations to develop their passions and ideas into projects by providing access to information, resources and expertise from within the Serve Scotland network and beyond;
- Promote the work of churches and organisations engaging in Christian social action projects across Scotland, to the faith community at large, to national and local politicians and to the general public;
- Commission and/or undertake research to determine gaps in service provision, both nationally and locally, exposing instances of unmet need and opportunities for service;
- Engage with and seek to influence church, political, voluntary and private sector, leaders and organisations, national and local government and broader civil society; and
- Take every opportunity to promote a bias for taking action and encourage churches, individuals and organisations to take informed and calculated risks on behalf of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised in their community.
Much of the early work of Serve Scotland will centre around three areas: Development of Local Serve Networks, Development of a web store, National Activity Research.
Local Serve Networks
These local networks will bring coherence, shared vision and growing relationships amongst those involved in Christian social action, leading to new projects and greater effectiveness. Each local network will be driven by people involved in work within that town. They will bring together those involved in the Christian voluntary sector to share information, talk about new initiatives and discuss unmet needs. This would help shape vision and build relationships. This group could perform a local audit, contact key councillors and agencies and plan strategically for the benefit those in need in the local community.
By creating these networks Serve Scotland aims to learn the best ways of building creative and sustainable local groups that think and act together to see lasting transformation across a whole city, town or village. Good practice lessons can then be shared within the overall Serve Scotland network.
Community Action Database
Serve Scotland believes there is need for a web store that contains ideas, information, case studies and other key information from across the Scotland. This would be a one stop shop, making it easier for churches and groups to look at what might work for them and how they can implement ideas successfully. It is really vital that groups and projects learn from one another. There is need to discover what is being done well in various parts of the nation; what challenges are being faced; what funding has been sourced etc. A website which is easily accessible will be of huge benefit to the all engaged in the sector.
The web store will form the basis for future information sharing across the Serve Scotland network, including information on projects that evidence best practice, lessons learned in project development and operation, sources of funds, evaluation tools, case studies and stories of transformation, advice etc. Once established the store will be a major resource for anyone starting out and/or fully engaged in Christian social action in Scotland or wishing to partner with those who are.
The web store, while populated and maintained by Serve Scotland on behalf of the Christian voluntary sector, will be accessible to any inside or outside the sector who have an interest in supporting the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised in Scotland.
National Activity Research
Serve Scotland believes that the faith community is doing a huge amount of good across the nation. However, there is shortage of statistical evidence about how much is being done or about its impact on the lives of vulnerable people and communities. Nor is much known about where in the nation much is happening and in which areas less work is taking place, and what needs are well catered for and where are the gaps.
The research will show the volume and value of work already being carried out by churches and organisations in Scotland and the impact of that work on the lives of individuals and communities. It will highlight the role of the Christian voluntary sector as a major player in Scottish society. Serve Scotland leaders will be able to speak with authority on matters of social policy at local and national levels. This will help to build a coherent strategy for the Christian voluntary sector to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised across Scotland.
There are various initiatives currently being discussed to address or partially address this shortage of evidence. Serve Scotland will work with others to find the most effective way to gather this information. The objective is to detail the work done, the cost involved and the amount of volunteer hours dedicated to the work. The outcomes will be presented to politicians at both national and local levels.
Similar research conducted in Wales by the council of Christian voluntary service (Gweini) was hugely helpful to both the Christian voluntary sector and the Welsh national and local governments. It formed the basis for better dialogue with government and media and made conversations about needs of communities, joint areas of concern and streams of funding much more productive.