A community making a difference – Cultenhove Opportunities

A community making a difference

Cultenhove Opportunities

Led by: Cultenhove Opportunities Partnership, with Stirling Council Communities Team


This study explores the impact of a CLD capacity building team supporting and working with a community organisation to increase community resilience, increase the capacity of the community to support vulnerable residents, and increase the quality of life through regeneration of the area and the development and use of greenspace.


Cultenhove is an area of Stirling with a population of 3,320. One part is among the 6% most deprived areas of Scotland – while 300 metres away are areas in the 10% least deprived in Scotland.

Cultenhove performs less well than the averages for Stirling and Scotland on many indicators. These closely reflect issues also identified by the community:

  • A quarter of working age adults receive some form of income related benefits
  • Higher percentages of older people are on a low income
  • S4 attainment is significantly below the average
  • The area performs significantly worse than average on a range of health issues
  • Alcohol related admissions are 93% higher than across the Council area as a whole and drug related admissions are 125% higher
  • The area accounts for almost 20% of the recorded anti-social behaviour in Stirling, while containing only 8% of the population
  • A higher proportion of men are registered with Criminal Justice.

Despite the negative picture, Cultenhove is an area with many strengths. But many of these have had to be worked for. This is how that was done.

Actions taken

The Cultenhove Opportunities Partnership (COP) started with a group of residents who were unhappy about the poor quality of housing and heating. But they quickly realised that there were many other problems linked to poverty, mental health etc. in the area.

The stated aim of COP is: “‘to improve residents’ self-esteem and confidence, to have pride in themselves and in the place they live, to tackle the issues and problems that lead to disadvantage. And to create community involvement and participation opportunities so that the community has more say and control in decisions that are made about the area”

From the start Stirling Council’s Community Engagement Team provided capacity building support to Cultenhove residents. This helped them to identify issues and to come together over the longer term to create a vision for the area and identify what needed to be done.

(Chair, COP)  ‘The support from the team has helped us to get to grips with the day to day job of running of COP as well as helping us to understand how to work with other services to make things better for our residents’  

At an operational level the Team provided support to COP to agree its purpose and for members to develop new skills and confidence:

  • with project management, funding and tendering to deliver local services and activities
  •  to understand how local concerns could be linked to master planning and other strategies, how to engage with and influence these strategies, and to work in partnership with local service providers.

The Team has also supported local service providers to work in partnership with COP and each other. COP has developed a community-led Health and Wellbeing Network. Its agreed overall purpose is to improve outcomes for local people through supporting collaborative work that adds value to the work of services and agencies. It is intended to allow the local community to identify and define what is important to their well-being, and then take the lead in implementing solutions in partnership with service providers.

Key stages in the story have included:

·         2003: Cultenhove Opportunities Partnership was created

·         2004-6:  Several projects were delivered, including a community café and a series of family focussed events. COP began to employ staff. ‘Get Talking in Cultenhove’ was a participatory appraisal project that increased engagement in community activities

·         2007: A housing led approach to regeneration was completed

·         From 2008: COP began to take a more strategic approach, alongside more projects to encourage community activity and engagement. A Green and Open Space Development Plan was produced – COP involved 124 people and got their opinion on the future regeneration of the area. This influenced the Cultenhove Development Framework, produced in 2010. Working with partners, the Cultenhove Health and Wellbeing Network Action Plan was created and a Smoke Free Homes project undertaken. Local management of the Hillview Community Centre was agreed.

Cultenhove Smoke Free Homes: This partnership project aims to reduce the impact of children’s exposure to second hand smoke in their homes. As a non-confrontational method of raising awareness, it was promoted at community events, such as barbeques and coffee mornings. At the end of the pilot 25 residents signed up to a smoke free homes pledge.  Seven also attended Keep Well Smoking Cessation and five successfully quit smoking. The project also improved people’s confidence in asking others to smoke outside and away from their children.

 ·         2009: COP gained 5 years of Big Lottery funding to employ a Resident Support Worker, who supports residents to access services which preserve their ability to remain in the community. Cultenhove Opportunities became a charitable company.

·          2011: work started on a Cultenhove People Plan, with COP working with a range of Community Planning partners.

·         2013: Community Spaces funding for COP to lease and develop a community park.

 Future action is being considered on crime and antisocial behaviour, and on education.

Partnership and strategy

From the early stages COP has been supported by Stirling’s Community Planning Partnership, who unlocked access to strategic managers, and brought statutory and voluntary sector service providers together with the community.

At a strategic level the Team encouraged support from the Community Planning Partnership for the COP vision and for the local delivery of services. COP has become both the local community planning forum and the community anchor organisation for the area, and has worked with the Community Planning Partners to develop a ‘People Strategy’ for the area.

Key partners, with whom COP works to see how services can be delivered to the vulnerable, include Citizens’ Advice Bureau; NHS Forth Valley, Shelter; Police; Credit Union; and Stirling Council: Housing, Community Wardens, Money Advice, Schools, Nursery etc.

Evidence of impact

Initial support with a wide range of health, financial and other issues is provided on the spot by a Resident Support Worker employed by COP. This worker acts as a one stop shop for residents, helping them with a variety of issues, and acting as a mediator between services.The personal approach used by COP volunteers, speaking to local people on their terms, avoids methods such as public meetings (which people can find intimidating) and leaflets/literature (which some people find difficult to understand).

(COP volunteer) “A lot of people think that officials are to blame for the situation up here. . .so they don ‘t trust them, and don’t want to talk to them…. We managed to take this negative out, and got people involved. Since then things have come on leaps and bounds, and the social side has really taken off ”

Case History: COP supported a man who had become homeless after his relationship broke down. Depression had led him to taking an overdose and being admitted to hospital. He has now maintained a tenancy. He has not had a recurrence of mental health issues. In addition, he is less isolated and is now taking part in community events and has a larger circle of acquaintances. He reported that he felt better about himself as he was more settled and had had support.

 The network of recognised ‘Cultenhove Officers’ – such as health visitors, adult education workers, police – access residents through COP events and communications. This has allowed the community to hold services to account, and officers to interact with the community in ways that would have been otherwise unlikely.

Observations from partners

ü    The homework club led on to activities for children out of term time

ü    Youngsters are respecting older people and older people respecting youngsters

ü    Opportunities for families which they could not afford because of the expense

ü    Children are routinely consulted and things happen because of that consultation

ü    Cleaning up green spaces, and the children have been involved in this

ü    People are no longer afraid to come into the area

ü    Now people have their own entrance and garden space, they are more neighbourly

ü    COP made the case for regeneration and has played a large part in the physical aspects

ü    People in the community benefit from the support provided by COP.

 Cultenhove has become a more resilient community whose strengths now include

  • A strong community organisation able to deliver services and work in partnership
  • A community vision for the area shared at a strategic level by service deliverers 
  • Local delivery of services
  • Increased external funding
  • Influence on partner spend and ways of working
  • Skilled community leaders
  • Increased community activity
  • A Community facility which is a base for a wide range of activity.


In particular COP has delivered

  • Increased support for vulnerable residents to remain and live positively within their community
  • Prevention of debt
  • Increased quality and use of greenspace.




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