Meeting young people at Kirkintilloch Skatepark

The asset project was invited to hold an asset-mapping event on Wednesday August 1st with the children and young people who attend the skatepark initiative in Luggie park. It was a cracking day attended by over 76 people of varying ages.  The resultant asset map is currently being developed and will be available shortly. The skatepark is unique as it is the only one of its kind and is obviously seen as a great local asset by those who attend from across the whole of East Dunbartonshire.

At this event, we really valued having the opportunity to speak to younger people from across East Dunbartonshire about the local assets that they find useful for their well-being. It was interesting to hear (and map) the different places that young people like to use to hang out, socialise with friends and mess around. Having a place to do this was seen as crucially important for the young people’s well-being.

The skatepark initiative itself shows how collectively the young people got together (and engaged their friends, families, little sisters, uncles and grandmas) to create change in their local environment. The whole community owns a part of its success, and in creating the skatepark and involving people in its development the community has seen that the young people of east dunbartonshire are important and responsible citizens when they are given the opportunity.

NB: Kirkintilloch Skatepark was the dream of local youngsters for many years.  The first petition by skaters went in to the local Council in 1987 and their demands featured regularly in the local paper, the Kirkintilloch Herald.  In 2003, East Dunbartonshire Council agreed to work in partnership with a local charity, Kirkintilloch Skatepark Initiative or KSI as it is now known.   The Council gave the KSI the site and the youngsters raised the money to build an open access concrete skatepark at a cost of £458,000 opened in 2009. Today KSI run competitions, events and coaching at the skatepark and the Council has adopted the skatepark and does the repair and maintenance.


Mapping Bearsden and Milngavie

Regular blog readers will know that over the coming months, there are a number of events happening across East Dunbartonshire designed to engage residents in a conversation about living in their local communities and finding out what assets are the most useful.

The first of these events was focused on mapping Bearsden and Milngavie.

Drop-in session

Our first drop-in session was held in Allander Leisure Centre on Saturday 23rd June. We talked with over 60 people (ages ranged from 3 years old right up to those in their 70s).

We asked people what was good about living in their local community, and what local assets they’d want to promote on a digital map. We retrieved a varied response, some of the assets are listed below.

What was clear from talking to people, was that they really appreciated having lots of open green space in Milngavie and Bearsden. There is a host of evidence which reports the significance of access to green space for health and wellbeing (Ellaway et al 2001, Sooman & Mcintyre 1995), many people discussed how this was the most valued community asset, but that potentially more could be done with the green space to open it up to be used by more people.

Similarly, people were not shy in coming forward to identify local residents who they thought of as being the heart and soul of the community and who helped to foster a unique community spirit.

Following the mindapples philosophy, we also asked people what different things they do every day to promote their own well-being. This is in response to lots of recent evidence that suggests that as many as 50% of our mental health issues are preventable (Department of Health, 2009) with much of our mental health and well-being being down to our individual choices and actions.

This proved to be a difficult task for some people – many hadn’t ever taken the time to think about their own well-being. With some helpful prompting from the team, however, people were able to think more broadly about the types of things that they do generally (perhaps not every day!) to keep themselves well. These varied from doing a good deed, taking exercise, investing time in relationships, taking time to appreciate things and trying new experiences.

Many people (particularly families) commented that it had been useful to take the time to think about their well-being and we think that this is vitally important and as such we will be repeating this exercise through the rest of the drop-in sessions. So, why not come along to the next session and share your personal wisdom?!


We also held a community workshop at the Enterprise Centre in Milngavie.This gave us the opportunity to work in a more structured way with a smaller number of individuals. Over a three hour period, we talked in-depth about the local area and were amazed by the wealth of contributions with such a small number of people. Thanks to those of you who came along!

A brief overview of asset contributions from the workshop included:

All of the assets identified will be added to the community map over the next few weeks. In the meantime, please remember that you can text COMMUNITY to 60777 followed by your favourite local asset to ensure it is added to the map (all texts will be charged at your standard network rate).

We found that Bearsden and Milngavie has a wealth of community groups and voluntary organisations with significant experience of community engagement. We also found, however, that there is potential for improvement in partnership working between public and community agencies. We heard that local people are concerned about the sustainability of current initiatives and believe that long-term solutions can only be achieved through greater community leadership and a focus on volunteering.

We also learned a lot about the history of the local area, and changes that have happened over time. Although the proposed community hubs were considered to a positive asset, there were some concerns voiced about the locations of these and lack of parking facilities to enable access to a wider reach of people.

Interestingly, when we asked participants how they thought local residents might engage with the digital map, they were clear that in certain groups there is a lot of apathy around trying out new places/activities. This was particularly so for older people. The participants thought that in some instances, it would be crucial to provide support, a ‘buddy’ along with sufficient transport to get people to even think about using some of the assets that had been mapped.

The project team were using these sessions as ‘tester’ events so that we could learn what works best and what doesn’t. We would have liked to get the views of more people in the area, and it is likely that we’ll arrange a future session at one of the local groups that were identified. Also, we didn’t get the chance to categorise the identified assets in the time allocated in the session, which is something we will incorporate into future events.

Participant quotes from the day:

“I’d just like to say how nice this group has been, you’ve made me feel very at home and I’ve enjoyed being part of it”

“I didn’t really realise how many organisations there are in the area”

“[the best asset] is our community spirit”


Department of Health (2009) Flourishing People, Connected Communities: Available from:

Ellaway A, Anderson A and Kearns A (2001) Perceptions of place and health in socially
contrasting neighbourhoods, Urban Studies, 38 (12) 2299-2316

Sooman A and McIntyre S (1995) Health and perceptions of the local environment in socially contrasting neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Health and Place, 1(1) 15-26

Mapping Edinburgh’s Self Management Resources

One of the things that we are really keen to do is to share the learning from this Kirkintilloch project far and wide so that others can use and adapt the process that we’ve gone through to better understand the resources that are available in the communities in which they live.

We were invited to come along and give a presentation about the project at the ALISS (Access to Local Information to Support Self-management) event on Tuesday 25th October.

One of the things we did was to showcase some of the different approaches to mapping that we tested in Kirkintilloch. Some photographs from the event are available here:

This was just a taster session and I think we were a bit ambitious to think that we could begin to map out some of Edinburgh’s self-management resources in a little hour session. It was mostly about showing people a new approach, and giving people a method for which to start thinking about collecting the different resources that are available, as well as learning something new about the area in which they work. We came away with a wealth of knowledge and information which will give a helpful baseline for which to build on.

This wide range of ‘assets’ or resources, came out of conversations, scribbles, post-its and using 3D shapes. Maybe they popped into peoples’ heads when something related was mentioned or when they spotted something on the map, but what it seemed to do was to help people think about self-management in the widest possible sense – enabling them to think outside of ‘traditional services’. And that is one of the things we like best about using assets as an approach – it is not just about positive language it is reframing how people think.

Beyond developing a map of resources, we’ve also found the process to be useful in  promoting connections or relationships between individuals, between individuals and organisations and between organisations. This certainly seemed to be happening on the day, there was a really good buzz in the room – with even some talk about establishing a local network of people interested in self-management.

We asked people how they found going through the process and received a really positive response. Additionally, there were lots of suggestions as to how it could further be developed, including:

  • colour coding the different categories of assets
  • ensuring that the areas that we choose to map are at the right size and are not overwhelming for participants
  • involving people who use services to understand their experiences of the different resources mapped

More soon.