Participatory budgeting

Mayfield and Easthouses Community Chest

In 2016, supported by funding from the Scottish Government and Midlothian, a pilot £30,000 Participatory Budgeting (PB) project was undertaken in Mayfield and Easthouses.  It sought to fund initiatives that would help families who were struggling financially.

Partners in the project:

  • Midlothian Council
  • Sure Start Dad's group
  • Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust
  • Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council
  • Midlothian Voluntary Action.

A 'steering group' was established. The Dad's group came up with the project name of "Mayfield and Easthouses Community Chest" and a project logo. The group developed the criteria and application process. This was followed by community outreach work, drop-in support sessions for potential applicants, and a publicity campaign including the use of social media.

Decision Day

The 'Decision Day' took place in May 2016 at Mayfield Church Hall.

Community groups, who had made an application for funding, were given a 'stall', which allowed them to 'network'. Local residents (voters) were able to gain further information about proposals so they could make informed decisions about which groups they wished to support.

In total, there were 31 projects with a total value of £77,908 competing for the £30,000 allocation.

An estimated 500 people attended, with 352 local residents voting on their preferred projects. Participants were each given 3 votes encouraging them to support a broad range of projects.

17 projects were allocated funding. The awards were presented to the successful community groups at the Mayfield and Easthouses Gala Day in June.

Impact of Participatory Budgeting as a process

  • Feeling of empowerment and control for local people
  • Good to be able to have an opportunity to make decisions about funding
  • Local people took the time and effort to get involved because they could influence decision-making.

Impact of the event

  • Have been able to create a network of contacts, have extended existing networks and raised awareness of the wide variety of groups in Mayfield and Easthouses.
  • Provided an opportunity for increased involvement of all members of the community and enabled sharing of ideas and discussion with local people.
  • Recognition that although the money was important it was not just about the money, it was about the process of developing and carrying out the project.
  • Initiated new conversations/relationships.

Impact of funding

  • Supported family learning activities for families who would have never had the opportunity / had the finances to go to Alnwick Castle.
  • Small amounts of money made a huge difference.
  • Funding has enabled the group to keep going.
  • Provided / supported space for male carers to spend focussed time with their children and enabled Dads to develop new skills, knowledge, and confidence around 'play' with their children.
  • Removed potential barriers to participation.
  • Going to Theatre, new experience, development of cultural interests. 
  • Supported the interaction between families and people from different ethnic backgrounds. 
  • Provided resources to develop training programmes that boosted knowledge confidence and skill.
  • Increased participation in activities / initiatives in the Mayfield and Easthouses area.