Across Scotland community groups are becoming more involved in their local greenspaces. Our 2017 greenspace survey found significant increases in people wanting to have more of a say in how their greenspace is managed and to get involved in activities to improve their local greenspace.

There are many ways to start a greenspace project – you could establish a Friends’ group for your local park or greenspace or form a community growing group.

Friends of Park group

Friends of Parks groups play a vital role in enhancing and protecting local parks. Giving their time and energy as volunteers these groups work in a variety of ways such as fundraising, practical park improvement projects and running events in their park. Many Friends of Parks groups have their own website or use Facebook to organise their activities. Where possible we have included links to Friends of Parks groups on the individual park pages throughout the website.

If there isn’t a Friends of Park group for your park why not consider setting one up?

Some councils provide useful information and support about setting up a Friends Groups, for example: City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council

Some groups have their own websites, for example Friends of Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen

Community growing group

More people are also coming together locally to grow their own food. Social Farms and Gardens (Scotland) have created the Community Growing Resource Pack Scotland which is a comprehensive introduction to setting up, developing and sustaining a community-managed farm, garden or related community growing space.

The pack takes you through the following steps:

  • Starting your group: Covers bringing people together and getting the word out about your ideas.

  • Finding and securing your site: Advice on where and how to find the right site. Also covers what on-site checks you need to make to ensure your potential site is suitable for community growing.

  • Involving the community & profile raising: Sharing and refining your vision by getting the local community involved in shaping your project.

  • Organising your group: Once the ball is rolling it’s a good idea to get properly organised. This step covers action and business planning as well as formalising your group by creating a management committee.

  • Planning & designing your site: Site analysis and design allows forward planning and enhances ownership and involvement by the group itself.

  • Money & budgets: Getting your finances in shape, understanding financial processes and working up accurate budgets are all essential elements for your developing growing group.

  • Raising funds & generating income: Getting income into your group doesn’t just mean fundraising. There are other ways to generate income – and save expenditure.

  • Safety first: Looking after volunteers, workers & visitors: Insurance, risk assessment and Health & Safety.

  • Recruitment & training: Taking on staff and volunteers and understanding what’s involved in this process is an important step in a group’s development.

  • Governance and paperwork: If your group is well organised and follows good practice it is more likely to function better, deal with administration quicker and be more robust for the future.

  • Becoming a membership organisation: Covers the basics of becoming a membership organisation, including membership fees, renewals and keeping records.

  • Maintaining and developing your project: After the initial stages of setting up your group comes the task of making it thrive. This final step explores retaining volunteers and community interest, working with advisors, carrying out an organisational health check and sustaining momentum

Setting up as a charity

Your friends or community growing group does not have to be a charity from the outset. Many exist as constituted groups or are even more informal than that. However, if you wish to look into becoming a charity or a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) there is a lot of help and guidance available.

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) provides guidance on setting up a charity

You can also phone the SCVO Information Service free of charge on the Freephone helpline: 0800 169 0022 or email: [email protected]

Here are some stages you should consider:

  1. Get started - Information to help you think through some of the key issues around starting a voluntary organisation in Scotland.

  2. Make a plan - Developing a new voluntary organisation takes careful planning to map out your vision and pay attention to all the detail.

  3. Decide on membership - Membership organisations are common in the voluntary sector. You just have to choose the right kind for you. 

  4. Decide on charitable status - How to understand the particular circumstances of your organisation and decide which option is right for you. 

  5. Consider the risks - Consider the types of activity you will be involved in and the level of risk attached.

  6. Decide on a structure - Choose the right legal structure for your organisation based on what you plan to do.

  7. Write your constitution - Once you have decided on your legal structure and are ready to draft your constitution. There are models you can follow.

  8. Next steps - Register your new organisation with the appropriate body. Then get on with the business of running your organisation.