Back to all Funding Stories

Active Communities

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

The charity delivers a varied programme of physical activity, community sport and health and wellbeing groups and classes. Around 700 people participate each week in 24 different groups including Walking Buddies, Jogging Buddies, Bike Buddies, Buggy Buddies, Ballroom Fitness, Clubbercise and Active Families.

These are delivered by sessional staff, supported by volunteer Community Health Champions who receive training to run sessions within their local communities. In addition, Active Communities is currently working with The Robertson Trust to develop a community-led women’s centre in Johnstone, called Kairos.

Towards the salary costs of the General Manager. The charity’s founder, Susan McDonald, works as its General Manager, overseeing the development and delivery of programmes and managing staff and volunteers. Her salary had previously been part-funded through NHS contract income, and when the organisation’s three-year NHS contract for community-led health was superseded by the Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), the interim shortfall needed to be met to ensure this key post could be sustained until HSCP funding was available.

What’s happened so far with the wider Active Communities project?
We have established a community health and wellbeing hub in Johnstone – a focal point in the town centre where people can find out about ways to improve health and wellbeing, and take part in activities and volunteering. It is also a base for young people developing the new Hearty Lives project.

Over the year, we have had 18,725 attendances at our classes and programmes. We have expanded our health and wellbeing programme to include Pound Fitness, Get Shopping Get Cooking, Health Drop-Ins, Active Families and Community Youth Activities.

And what's still to come?
We are recruiting and training more Community Health Champions (CHCs) and Youth Peer Educators, who will develop additional community health and wellbeing hubs in Johnstone Castle, Ferguslie Park and Linwood. We aim to launch new programmes from these hubs including Cycling Without Age, Mindfulness, Singing in the Community, Health Drop-Ins and youth activities. We have applied for a community asset transfer of Johnstone Police Station to develop a community-led health and wellbeing centre. We are focussing on developing our organisation, working with a business mentor, to review our business plan and strategy.

What are your tips for other organisations seeking funding for this kind of work?
We believe that communities know best – we see our role as supporting people to make changes. We would encourage other organisations to listen to local people and to develop programmes based on needs. Help people to make small changes that will have a long-term impact on their health and wellbeing. It’s not a quick fix but we are confident that this approach works. We would also encourage organisations to look at capacity building and sustainability. Our successful model of recruiting, training and supporting local people as Community Health Champions (CHCs) enables them to gain confidence, new skills and qualifications (often providing a pathway into employment), and gives the community real ownership, thus ensuring sustainability. 

What difference does this funding award make to the work you do?
Funding has allowed us to increase the health and wellbeing activities delivered by our local CHCs, who help others to enjoy healthier lives by raising awareness of healthy choices, sharing health messages and removing barriers to participation by creating supportive networks and environments. The people we are supporting have reported improved health and wellbeing, reduced loneliness and isolation and feeling good about themselves.

In order to successfully apply for funding under our Giving Strategy 2016-19, applicants must demonstrate how their work will contribute to one or more of the themes within the Trust's three new funding strands.

This application was eligible as a result of its fit with the following theme:

Funding Strand: Strengthening CommunitiesTheme 1: Reducing health and social inequalities in Scotland's communities


"Active Communities targets its activities in areas of Renfrewshire widely recognised as having health inequalities. such as Ferguslie Park. It is also developing the capacity of local people to become volunteers, community champions and peer supporters to increase the reach of their work.

The charity had performed well under previous Development Awards, having provided strong evidence of their impact and demonstrated excellent partnership working. The General Manager/Founder is proactive in using her skills and experience to develop and maintain innovative community-led health programmes. Support for this key post from the Trust would hopefully strengthen the case for future Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) contracts.”

 Lesley Macdonald, Head of Giving