camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Easy as ABCD

Last week, I was lucky to share a powerful couple of hours on zoom with over 120 other people across the UK who are working with their communities to bring positive change. It was called the Asset Based Community Development Jamboree – hence the ABCD heading to this blog. Don’t get put off with fancy words there – what this really means is strengthening communities with what exists already – i.e. the people. To put it another way, as it says in our mission statement, empowering local people & organisations to bring about positive, lasting change. What this boils down to is a community revolution! It’s the time for communities to build on their own skills and be the authors of their own futures.

I was incredibly fired up from the morning in this session, as I was joined by others who are banging the same drum as I have throughout my time in this role and for years before that: stop doing stuff to communities – work with them. I could write forever on this subject but to save boring you (who said “too late”?!), I will just put this over a series of blogs in the coming weeks and months as the mood takes me and as circumstances dictate.

The above image is the graphic notes from the morning, captured by Visual Practitioner Anna Geyer. She has really caught the mood and you can see for yourself that there is so much in there which is why I need a series to bring some of this to a local level. In her twitter summary, this quote really stood out for me:

In every meeting I’ve been in over the last 10 months – especially the current Community Conversations that the Council are leading – I have pressed the point that the whole community needs to be spoken to. Anything dressed up as a conversation cannot fall short and become a place simply for providing information. The people of Camelon and Tamfourhill have some powerful opinions that can really help shape the future of our community. It’s time these opinions were taken seriously and my pledge to you is that I will do what I can to make this happen. But you need to work with me on this.

Back to the ABCD session, below are just some of the comments shared by participants that I managed to capture and feel are relevant to us here. The first 5 quotes come from Fatima El Guenuni, a family therapist in the Grenfell area of London who had family members in the tower that burned down (thankfully they survived). Her talk certainly set the tone for the day:

  • Communities have never been hard to reach, but they have been easy to ignore.
  • Voice is important at the centre of communities but action is more important.
  • Work alongside people and be brave enough to make decisions that benefit the community and not the system.
  • It’s the system that marginalises communities, not communities that make themselves hard to reach.
  • We need to be willing to step outside roles & be there for communities with love and support – a hug of compassion and humanity.
  • Be the “human bridge” between people and the community and the system.
  • It is time to stop the politicisation of community development.
  • This citizen centred movement is gathering massive momentum. I hope councils learn, recognise it & work generously with communities to share power & space.
  • We are hearing of rooted acts of kindness, and the tremendous steely courage of communities, to flourish forward fairly, whatever the challenges may be.
  • Stories are so important and then stimulating them with the right questions.
  • Inequalities have driven the change. Our aim was to listen. Serve the people. Unlock skills and talents. Change power.
  • We need jargon free community development. It’s about people. Local people. Leading local change.

There are so many more that I’ll save for another blog. But can you pick up the themes here? Are you excited by it? Everyone was completely on board with this revolution. This last year has actually been a defining moment for communities across the land, as many have really stepped up to meet their own needs. The challenge now is to build on that, with appropriate support and empowerment, to make this change in power permanent.

I’ll finish this week where I started, with the letters ABCD, standing for Asset Based Community Development. For a bit of fun following a challenge by a Community Builder from the Denny area, I extended this for the whole alphabet, so our A to Z of Community Development is now: Asset Based Community Driven Efforts For Growing Hope, Increasing Joy, Keeping Lives Motivated, Nurturing Others, Persevering, Quickly Reaffirming, Strengthening Talents, Unleashing Volunteers With eXtra Youthful Zest.

So who’s up for joining in on this community revolution? Let’s hear your voices – your comments, concerns, suggestions, hopes, plans. What do you need to help take you forward? Is it other people? Money? Training? Property? Equipment? Other resources? Let us know and we can then work with you to try to make it happen.

Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151,

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training


Before you ask, no, I haven’t just fallen on the keyboard to type the title of this blog, and nor am I writing about a new flat pack furniture shop!

Ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth”. When put together, these terms talk about something that gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose. The concept of this idea comes from a larger and more inclusive philosophy used within the Japanese traditional health system called the Wuxing that was introduced into Japan in the early 6th century from China and embraced by local folk religion and culture.

It’s not a word I’ve come across before and I am often wary of these things from the Far East, but if it helps, it is similar to the French term “raison d’etre” that you may have heard – or “reason for being”. The diagram below might give you a bit more insight as to why I wanted to share this with you having read about this just the other day.

As you see, what the Japanese call Ikigai – we might call it contentment – lies at the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs. It is unique for everyone and can change in the course of life.

Ikigai is much more than a passion or profession. It is connecting those with a true vocation – not just a job – and something that really clicks for you. For me, it could easily be applied to my presence in this role as Community Coach. It’s what I love and I like to think I can be good at it (others viewpoint and results will ultimately judge that one!). Thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund I can be paid for it, and it is certainly a role that many communities across Scotland could benefit from, as is fed back to me when I speak in network meetings that I have attended over the last 9 months.

But what could it be for you? Are you living your dream life just now, whether that be in study, work or retirement, or is there something missing? What would the ‘future you’ be looking back and saying to you right now? Keep going? Fix something? Start something? Get involved in something? Learn a new skill? Stop doing something? What does that ‘future you’ look like? Or to put it another way, what is that you would really love to do but life – or maybe just a simple need to exist – has got in the way?

As your Community Coach, it’s my role to work alongside you to help you on this journey. If we’re strict to the theme of this blog, I can work within my Ikigai to help you find yours! But in terms we’ll all understand, how can I help you reach your potential – the thing that the ‘future you’ is willing you on to. Is it training? Is it the confidence to get involved in something? Is it helping with job skills? Is it help to start your own business? Is it gaining a better grasp on basic life skills? Or is it just having someone to talk with who can help spur you on to find a way forward?

Through my role and the partnerships/connections that I’ve developed, I can help with all of these things. So what is it for you?

Why not get in touch today to start the journey to find your Ikigai? Email me (Dan) on or call me on 07444 873151. Let’s make this happen together.

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, growing, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training, Writing

Past, Present, Future

Hi. Dan here, your Community Coach. Let me ask you, which of the following categories you fall into?

  1. Do you look back on things that happened in the past and wish it was like it was again? Or maybe you’re stuck because of things that happened to you, or that you did, in the past and can’t move forwards?
  2. Do you feel you’re fine as things are right now and no change is necessary, or do you feel restricted because of how things are now?
  3. Do you long for a future that is so much different to what it is now? Or maybe you have a dream of something that you could do, or that could be happening in the area or in your life generally?

Past – Present – Future. Past is Experience. Present is Experiment. Future is Expectation. So we could say that we can use our experience in our experiments to achieve our expectations. All are relevant and should be embraced but they have to lead somewhere and that’s important as we look at what can be achieved in the Camelon and Tamfourhill area.

We have a proud heritage in this area and it is important to learn from that and build on it. However, times have changed and so there is no point in generally wishing things were as they were before. We have to move forwards – to evolve with the times – but still ensuring we remain distinctives as Mariners.

And that’s where we look to the future. What does that look like? I know that’s going to be different for everyone reading this, but the simple truth is that we have a future to work towards and we must make every effort to do that. Certainly myself and John are here to help that happen and are encouraged by those who have already stepped up to join with us on this quest.

For now though, we have many good things happening in the area at present that we should celebrate. That is not to say it is all perfect but if you’re honest, was it ever perfect? Our perception of life changes as we age and sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond that. But despite the issues around at present that do seriously need sorting (and together we can work on that), we still have much to celebrate and be proud of. A strong foundation to build on.

CS Lewis wrote that “the past is frozen and no longer flows, and the present is all lit up with eternal rays”. What’s he getting at? Nathan Blackaby describes himself in his book “Going against the Grain” as often having lived in the ‘frozen past, trying to defrost past moments, hurts, failures, and stuff that I did wrong (or the wrong that other people have done to me). All of these past events and moments are slowly defrosted so that I can re-experience that hurt – because, if I’m really honest, the hurt is real and comfortable at times, and easier to live with than without.” He goes on to say, “if I wasn’t defrosting stuff from the past, I could be found wandering in my head way off into the future somewhere. Future hopes, plans or dreams, future fears or points of anxiety and concern were all mapped out.” Blackaby, like Lewis, is not saying that past reflection or future thoughts are wrong – far from it. “But whether you are stuck in the past or lost in the future, consumed with health, wealth or family what-ifs, you are being robbed of the ‘now'”

So, what about now? 2021! It promised so much back in December last year but has started with renewed frustrations and restrictions. Some plans will have to be re-thought but that’s okay. Things will still happen. It may all still look different at least for the next few months, but there is still so much to be getting on with.

As well as working on the Community Growing activity with a new group of volunteers, there are many other exciting projects brewing away. A lot focuses around training and I am building a partnership with a training provider for a wide range of personal development courses that will come free of charge to local residents. I am also building my own bank of knowledge for sharing with others (individuals and organisations) and ensuring that Camelon and Tamfourhill are more widely represented and recognised in various networks both locally and nationally.

I am developing a Creative Writing programme and will have more on that in due course. We’ll pick up the Bicycle Recycling scheme once restrictions have lifted, and I have a draft plan for celebrating some of the historical nature of our area. Aside of that, I am facilitating more discussion between all the projects funded through the Our Place scheme, namely Camelon Arts, TCV and Cyrenians (Camelon Connect), so that we can work together more where needed and make each others lives easier which in turn will make the activities we all produce greater and even more beneficial to local people.

That last part is a key focus of my role, as I am here to help develop local people and organisations. All the projects we work on will be there to enable people to get involved at their level but with the intention to help them grow and become more involved in their community. This will also enhance the training programme options and additionally, I will shortly have a coaching programme to offer that will help individuals to move towards their potential whatever that may be.

To return to Nathan Blackaby’s book, he says “the ‘now’ is where we operate, where we impact and influence change, and it is where we are forged … with a ridiculous amount of potential, courage, hope, adventure and purpose.” I am genuinely excited about what is to come this year and hope you will hop on for the ride. As Blackaby again says, let’s “get busy living in the now and … we will see some action”.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, general comments or even complaints, please get in touch with me (Dan) via email at or call 07444 873151.

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training

Festive Thoughts

When you read this blog I’ll have signed off for 2020. And what a year it has been! I may have started in this role during lockdown, but back then in May, none of us would have thought we’d still be in this situation with so much restriction on our lives.

The pandemic and subsequent limitation on movement and activity have certainly had a massive negative impact on my plans within this role but I know that is nothing to how it has negatively impacted everyone’s lives and actually, it’s not been all bad – there has actually been some positivity. Here’s a couple of lists:

Things I’ve not been able to do:

  • Deliver training courses.
  • Have groups come together to network, share expertise and learn from each other.
  • Run information and planning sessions.
  • Deliver 1-1 coaching.
  • Run big events.
  • Meet with many people in real life.

Things I have been able to do:

  • Develop training courses including partnerships with training providers.
  • Understand more about the actual community needs.
  • Support 32 local organisations with various information and guidance.
  • Develop valuable contacts for future local benefit across various projects.
  • Create a Community Growing Group.
  • Host pop up Cycle Repair Workshops.
  • Prepare for a Recycle a Bicycle donation scheme for January.
  • Begin to put Camelon and Tamfourhill back on the map for positive reasons.

There’s probably more for both lists but that will do for now! Essentially what I’m trying to say as much to myself as everyone else is that it’s not been all bad. In fact, the opposite is true – there has been a lot of good going on in the community. Groups have responded to a growth of need. Plans have been quickly put into place for new or enhanced projects. People have looked to how they can strengthen their own futures through learning new skills. Others have gained a new understanding about what actually happens in this community by the fact they have actually spent time in the area during the day. Foundations have been laid for so much more in the new year.

So despite the heartache, difficulty, stress and loss that many have faced in this area over 2020 (for which my thoughts and sympathies are freely given), I am full of hope for 2021 and beyond. More than that, I am excited for the possibilities of what is ahead. I hope that you will come with us on this journey.

I wish you and yours a very happy and safe Christmas, and look forward to working with you all in what will hopefully be a peaceful and more positive 2021.

Dan Rous,
Community Coach,
07444 873151

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Looking Back to Move Forwards

This blog marks 6 months since John and I started in our posts and Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill was reborn. For my part, as a local resident as well, I came with hopes and plans as to the things I could bring to this new and exciting role as Community Coach. However, starting a new job during a national pandemic and lockdown really threw most of those plans up in the air! But, undeterred, I have pushed on as much as possible through mainly online contact and phone calls and have been grateful to the willingness of local groups to get on board with what I can bring – especially those who came to me for help. That has been especially helpful during these restrictions as I don’t necessarily know what help is needed unless people tell me.

There is still a lot of work to do and I’ve in no way been able to give all the groups what they need or even make significant contact with some. That does not mean I won’t keep trying though! Contact with individuals has also been hard as I can’t get out to meet you! But I’m working on how I can do this through the restrictions we face just now and would just again encourage anyone who wants any support with training and personal development to do as some have already and give me a shout. Even if you’re not sure what you need – often chatting it through with someone else can be a big help. My contact details are below.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has got on board with what we’re trying to achieve here. Those who have supported me, shared our social media posts and blogs, informed others about what we’re doing and basically cheered us on. Sincerely – thank you.

For now, this seemed a good chance to review what I’ve been able to do so far. I record this not to show off in any way – that’s not my style. But simply to try to show how Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill, and especially my role as a Community Coach, can be of benefit in this amazing community.

  • 26 Local Organisations have been supported with information, guidance or training on:
    • Funding
    • Governance
    • Marketing
    • Local Contacts
    • Covid Guidance
    • Development
    • Project Related
    • General Chat
  • 4 Individuals have been supported with:
    • Access to training
    • Idea development
    • Relevant Contacts
  • 34 External Organisations have been linked up with for:
    • Information and Support for Local Organisations
    • Networking
    • Training
    • General Links and Wider Support
    • Information and Guidance
    • Collaboration Opportunities
    • Project Support
  • 6 Organisations and 2 Individuals have been identified for delivering Free or Low Cost Training:
    • I am combining my search for various courses together with working to find out the kinds of courses people are needing.
    • The list is too long to put on this blog, and really is endless depending on what you, the people and organisations of this area, actually want and need.
    • Courses include Personal Development, Employability, Organisational Development and Skills Based subjects.
    • I have been building my own skills to enable me to deliver this training online as it looks like it might be a little while before we can have groups together for this.
  • I have taken part in 11 Training Sessions or Courses:
    • Managing Change
    • Rebuilding Income Streams
    • Wellbeing Economy
    • Asset Transfer
    • Community Right to Buy
    • Community Wealth Building
    • Asset Based Community Development
    • Digital Champion
    • Taking your Training Online
    • Delivering Effective Online Learning
    • Human Centred Design
  • Working on Developing 6 Projects in the area:
    • Creative Communities Fund – Behind the Labels Project
      • Collaborative funding application unsuccessful but working with groups involved to discuss alternative options.
    • Cycle Repair Pop Up Workshops
      • Thanks to work with Cycling UK, these are happening over the next 2 weeks.
    • Easter Carmuirs Park
      • Early work on planning for Phase 2 consultation which will include forming a new group of local people to help the process.
    • Community Growing/Gardening
      • Formation and support of new group to develop growing sites across the area.
    • Cycling Events
      • Potential partnership with Cycling Scotland and Falkirk Active Travel Hub to include the area in some events.
    • Coaching
      • I am developing a programme of 1-1 coaching for individuals to enable personal and organisational growth.

It’s been quite a fun and rewarding process putting this list together and I’m sure there’s things I’ve missed and there’s more in the pipeline as well. In any area of development – whether that is personal or organisational – it’s good to look back on where you’ve come from as, no matter how low we may feel on the odd occasion, recognising achievements to date is a real boost. This process can really help you move forwards. I hope to be able to help others do the same locally as we go through the next 6 months and beyond.

Look back to learn how to look forward

Joe Girard

If you want to know more about how I can support you or your organisation, please get in touch either by email to or call 07444 873151.

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, gardening, growing, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Digging the Dirt

A couple of weeks ago I introduced Community Gardening/Growing to you and we’ve had a great response. So this week for something a bit different, I’m going to take you on a video tour of some of the sites that have been highlighted to us. If you don’t want to watch the video, the text is written out below. Plus, if you want to keep up to date with this new Gardening/Growing group, click the link immediately below the video to register your details. We’ll call a meeting very soon.

Click here to register your interest in Community Gardening/Growing

Thanks for your interest in getting involved in your community. More from me next week!

Transcript of Video (without the ‘ums’ and ‘ers’!)

Hiya.  Its Dan here, your Community Coach.  As John teased in his blog on Tuesday, I want to expand a little bit more about the Community Gardening/Growing options in this area as part of our Tidy Clean and Green campaign.  But rather than just write about it, I thought it would be a lot better to go and take a walk around the area and look at some of the sites that have been identified to us by interested locals.  There’s a lot of chat to be had and planning to be done about what’s most appropriate for each of these sites.  It may be seed bombing, meadow creation, formal planting, community food growing, even allotment space.  The key is that it’s what YOU the local people want to see and get involved with as well.  Our job here at Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill is to support you in that, whether that’s for accessing funding, supplies, promotion and whatever else might be needed.  I’ll even lend a hand with the digging too!  Plus we’ll be working with the relevant people at the council to make sure this is all done right and in line with their “Dig In” strategy.  It’s all potentially very exciting so, as the sun is shining really brightly just now, lets go and have a look at some of the sites.

Rowan Crescent
We’ve come up to Tamfourhill and we’re just off Rowan Crescent, so let’s have a little look at the site up here.  So, this lovely little site has been identified as a potential one for doing something in. Our problem is it’s quite wet! Water doesn’t seem to be draining away anywhere. Just up the back you have the railway line.  It has some stones and it’s kind of stuck here in between the houses.  It would be good to see something in here  – who knows what.  What do you fancy?

Tamfourhill Community Hub
Our next site is up here at Tamfourhill Community Hub.  We’ve got a wee potting shed in here, and there’s potential for some raised bed growing to build on the amazing veg on the ledge kits. Brilliant stuff that we can replicate in some way.  That’s another option for developing this bit here from the potting shed at Tamfourhill Community Hub.

Camelon Public Park
For our next site, we’ve come down to Camelon and just off the main street this is Camelon Public Park.  The lighter area has been grown as a meadow/wildflower area which is something we can develop and locals are interested in keeping as part of this beautiful park that looks absolutely amazing – of course it’s always sunny in Camelon!  Camelon Public Park – one of the other areas being shown to us.

Telford Square / Nailer Park
Next up we’re down here at Telford Square, next to Nailer Park and this gives you an idea of something that can be achieved when people come together.  This has been developed by the community over the last couple of years with support from CATCA.  Various different bits of veg and fruit growing in these homemade containers made out of leftover bits of wood, shows the potential of what can be achieved.

Carmuirs Park / Fairlie Drive
Next on our tour we’ve come to the back of Carmuirs Park and this area that we’ve mentioned quite a bit over the last couple of weeks that was a huge area for anti-social behaviour – a shooting gallery and all sorts of things.  We’re just down from the Forth and Clyde Canal.  Now with thanks to Falkirk Council Environment Services this has been cleared up.  The hiding areas have gone and now it’s a chance to turn this into something beautiful.  Had a few suggestions already.  What can this bit be at Carmuirs Park?

Brown Street Park
Next up on our whirlwind tour around the area is this patch of land that is between Brown Street (Hamilton Street section) through to Wall Street at the other end.  It used to be a park ages ago and has been identified to us by a few people now as having great potential for various kinds of growing.  What kind of thing would that be? Would you like to get involved? So that’s the Brown Street Park.

Easter Carmuirs Park
Next part of our tour has brought us to Easter Carmuirs Park where obviously there was some work done last year. There were some meadow areas planted up in the distance behind the goalposts and just the other side of the railings.  There’s scope for things up towards the Ochiltree (Camelon Community Hub) and around the rest of the park.  People have spoken to us about different options even all the way around the corner towards Ochiltree Terrace.  So another bit – what would you like to see here at Easter Carmuirs Park.

Well I hope you enjoyed your little walk around Camelon and Tamfourhill looking at some of the sites that have been shown to us, potentially for growing or gardening.  There’ll be loads more, I’m sure, and even some of the sites that we’ve shown you today might have confused you as to what could be done there.  Best thing to do is get involved.  If you follow the link, it’ll take you to a little Survey Monkey thing that simply is getting your details so you’ll be on a mailing list specifically for gardening and growing.  We won’t bombard you with other stuff.  Follow that link, fill in your details, and we’ll set a meeting up, probably by Zoom because we can’t meet each other unfortunately.  We’ll do that meeting just to get an idea of where your skills are, what kind of interests there are, what the potential is, and where we can take this project.  Hope that’s been fun. Have a good rest of day and we’ll see you soon.  Bye!

camelon, collaboration, community, development, gardening, growing, litter, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Community Growing

For my blog this week, I’m mainly speaking to those of you out there who have an interest in gardening, although the rest of you can read on as well if you wish!

My colleague John is gaining good traction in community litter picking as part of the campaign to Keep Camelon and Tamfourhill Tidy Clean and Green. His blog on Tuesday highlighted one group of litter pickers, and we’ve seen and heard of other such groups or individuals cropping up around the area too. This is great as people are taking a pride in their area.

On the back of that activity, we now wish to look at how we can turn some local sites – either local litter hotspots or just unused areas – into something beautiful. We can do this by undertaking community gardening that may be as simple as “seed bombing” or spreading some wildflower seeds, but could be as involved as growing food that could ultimately benefit local food pantry’s as well. We may just develop a very small area, or work on a larger plot over a longer period of time. Basically, the opportunities are endless and hopefully will give a fresh outlet for all those of you who developed green fingers during lockdown in your own garden or balcony, or took part in the ‘veg on a ledge’ scheme, as well as those for whom this kind of thing is second nature.

We have identified a few possible sites and have opened discussions with Falkirk Council and also the local Community Food Consortium to ensure we do things right but also feed into local planning, support and maybe even some funding.

So if this is of interest to you, please take 2 minutes of your time to complete the information on the link below. I’ll then set up a meeting for those who are interested to discuss options. Due to current restrictions this will be an online meeting, but if you know of anyone who is not online who may be interested, please let them know and help them keep informed until we can actually physically get together again.

We’ll aim to start this as simply as possible by allowing you to do what you want to do – gardening! In time, this may evolve into a formal organisation but not until we have the right skills around. All that will come in time. For now, lets focus on the plants! I look forward to supporting you in making this happen. Any questions, comments, suggestions or need for help – give me a shout.

Dan Rous, Community Coach. 07444 873151 or

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

The trouble with groups

Steering Group.
Working Group.

Apologies – those may be swear words to some people! To others, you may not even know what some of them are. And then there will be some of you who absolutely get these words, understand the need behind them, and will engage in their outworking.

The joy and challenge of my role is that all of those responses are completely fine! This makes for interesting times but it’s part of what I enjoy about this role. You don’t need me to tell you that Camelon and Tamfourhill is a diverse area. You just need to take a short walk around to see the differences in areas and people, often just within a stones throw of each other. So, how do we deal with this – and I do mean ‘we’!

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticise it as rootless and stemless. We treat it as a seed giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticise the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development.

Timothy Gallway, The Inner Game of Tennis

I completely understand that people want to get involved at different levels. Some of you will have no problem joining in with an activity or event and would be happy to ‘get your hands dirty’ with whatever is going on. However, you would run a mile if you were asked to be on an organising committee or do some paperwork linked to that activity. That is perfectly okay. We need all sorts of people to get involved. Leaders, helpers, organisers, planners, supporters etc. Just like the rose in the quote above, all are needed and all are welcome. (I wrote more on this in one of my earlier blogs back in July)

So when I’m helping form a new group or developing an existing one, the biggest potential difficulty comes when you assemble people from different walks of life. When they gather for the first time and don’t necessarily know each other, there will be feelings of uncertainty about each others motives and this usually leads to a hesitance to make strong commitments right away. Some may be a bit puzzled about the purpose and goals of the group. Others may not be sure whether they will have anything in common with the other members and might be reluctant to even find out.

To get going, the group needs to understand and/or shape their purposes and tasks in ways that make sense to them and are meaningful. As the members express what will undoubtedly be differing viewpoints, some areas of conflict may occur. There may also be some ill-feelings toward the person taking the lead if they are not seen as being fair or are siding more with one side or another. Whilst I’m here to enable people to have the skills to take on responsibility, I’m aware that the ‘lead’ person initially might be me. Rest assured I will always be impartial, fair and focused on the tasks at hand but am prepared to handle ill-feelings should they come my way! I’m also here to mediate if needed.

It is essential in any group that all perspectives are given serious consideration, and that efforts are made to accommodate the differences. If this is not easily achieved, the best thing to do is go back to the vision, mission and goals of the group. (Another previous blog talks more about this). If it then remains clear that not all members share the same basic vision and sense of mission, it may actually be better to split into smaller groups who can lead on different activities. In other words, rather than trying to dilute what you’re doing or waste time trying to work on differences in priorities, enabling two groups to work side by side on different projects can reduce the tensions and potentially enable even more people to get involved.

Bringing about large scale change is difficult and is achieved through relationships, championships, legitimacy, purpose, passion and patience.


Having successfully resolved any disagreements, the group will hopefully have a sense of togetherness with members being accepting of each other. In this situation, members should be able to make a stronger, perhaps longer term commitment to the group and would hopefully also be willing to take on greater responsibilities.  I’ll be there to support and train them as appropriate and support for as long as it takes. The result is that decision-making is easier and more effective with all group members empowered to focus on the vision, mission and goals. This all leads to the group developing a strong identity because they are much more than just a collection of individuals now.

That’s the plan anyway!

I could write loads more on this but I’ll save that for another blog or better still when I’m actually working with groups directly. For now though, I’ll leave you with these 5 core elements that apply to forming or developing any group and really, for any effective community to thrive:

  • Connection (We all need a sense of belonging)
  • Participation (We all need to be engaged in some kind of community)
  • Nature (We all need a safe natural world to live in)
  • Fairness (We all need to see justice in all its dimensions)
  • Dignity (We all need enough to live in comfort, safety and happiness)

If you want help forming, fixing or developing a group in the Camelon and Tamfourhill area, please do not hesitate to email me on or call 07444 873151. Until next time…. Dan.

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, lottery, Our Place, resilience, safety, Support, tamfourhill

Busting the Myths

Since John and I started in post, we have tried to make clear why we’re hear and what our role is. But there are still some people who don’t know about us, don’t quite get what we’re doing, or think we are something that we’re not! Some of this is understandable with the current restrictions and our limitation to mostly online communication, but there is still some misinterpretation or misinformation around. So today, let me try to put right some myths that are out there about our roles, and try to get us all on the same page. To save you just scrolling through, here’s a list of the questions or comments made. Click any one to get my take on it:

Are you from Falkirk Council?
Are you just going to gather information and do little or nothing with it?
You’re part of Tamfourhill TRA so you’re not there for all of us.
Our Place hasn’t done anything for us yet, what’s different now?
This place will never change!
The problems are just too big
Why should I get involved?
How do I get involved?

Are you from Falkirk Council?
With all due respect to the Council, NO WE ARE NOT!! We are locally employed and will work only for the interests of local people. We will liaise with Falkirk Council and local councillors as needed, and we are doing that already, but we are completely independent of them, sitting within the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill project hosted by Tamfourhill Tenants and Residents Organisation.

Are you just going to gather information and do little or nothing with it?
Absolutely NOT! Yes we will need to gather fresh information, as John has already done with the Community Safety Survey, but this is because it’s been a little while since relevant information was gathered and we want to be working with as up to date knowledge as possible. We will then use any information to inform positive action or developments and can promise you that it will not just sit in a file and gather dust. We are not researchers. We are people of action (where’s my cape!)

You’re part of Tamfourhill TRA so you’re not there for all of us.
Yes, the funding for the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill Project is hosted by Tamfourhill Tenants and Residents Association. That is true and was done that way as they were deemed by The National Lottery Community Fund to be best placed to host two employees and oversee the project. BUT…… that DOES NOT mean that we are only here for their benefit. We are here to work for the whole of Camelon and Tamfourhill – for all groups and individuals – for all positive and negative things. There are people needing coaching support across the whole area. There are organisations needing a bit of advice or guidance as they work across the whole area. There are community safety issues everywhere. Sometimes we will work with a specific group or location and other times we will work for the benefit of the whole area. It’s project dependant but ultimately and quite simply, we are HERE FOR EVERYONE.

Our Place hasn’t done anything for us yet, what’s different now?
There’s something a bit Monty Python about this question/comment (what have the Romans ever done for us…. look it up in YouTube!!) The Our Place programme first ran from 2014 to 2019. During that time, support was officially here for a couple of days a month and enabled a direct link to The National Lottery Community Fund (Big Lottery as it was then) through the support staff. This brought in £1.5m of funding directly to projects in the area – find out more here – and supported additional applications, particularly to Awards for All, in the region of £150,000. That wasn’t shouted about much so you’ll be forgiven for thinking there was no local benefit, but there WAS and STILL IS! The previous programme also identified key areas of concern and so it earmarked further funding for longer term direct support in the form of the jobs that John and I are privileged to be in for the next 3 years, along with a small pot of operational funding around that. What that means is that we are both here 35 hours a week until at least April 2023 to work with local people and organisations and bring genuine help and development. We will not just float in and out again, creating something that might or might not last. We are in this for the long haul and for me especially, I’m here to ensure people have the skills, support and connections necessary to be able to do things themselves so that they don’t need external help – to encourage, motivate and develop you as needed, walking with you every step of the way. John is determined to enable positive change to the variety of Community Safety issues with your engagement. Hopefully in April 2023 (or ideally before) you’ll be able to say with confidence exactly what Our Place has done for you.

This place will never change!
With all due respect, if we think like that then no it won’t. But if we take some time to work together and plan properly, then YES IT CAN! It is true that statistically we have various levels of deprivation in the area. But we have a shed load of assets – THE PEOPLE! Deprivation stats are only good for getting funding. The skills and passions of local people are perfect for effecting positive change. A couple of years ago a resident described this as the land that time forgot. Lack of development, investment, support etc. Carry on like that and yes it will change, but for the worse. John and I, together with many others (including hopefully you), are determined to reverse this trend, build on the £1.5m invested in the last 5 years, and bring more funding, development, support and positive COMMUNITY LED change.

The problems are just too big
True. There are big issues to tackle. But THEY CAN BE TACKLED. As a whole it can look too huge. But, broken down into individual issues, we can work out some themes, trends and causes. That will enable us to develop ways to tackle the issue and engage with local people and support bodies. John and I can’t do this on our own and even with your involvement this still might be difficult. But ignoring the issues, or just accepting them, is not the answer. Nor is invoking mob rule! So, include us. Inform us. Allow us to work with you. It will take time but we can bring an end to many of these problems that we face today.

So, how can we do this? Two more questions to consider…

Why should I get involved?
Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill is here for people living in, or organisations working for the benefit of, LOCAL PEOPLE. This is all about helping you to be a part of creating a positive change for this area and for yourselves. This is not about doing things for you or to you any more. This is about either doing things with you, or putting you in a position so you can do it yourselves. So if you want to make and be a part of a positive future for Camelon and Tamfourhill – you should get involved. If you want to make a better future for yourself and your friends/family – you should get involved. We can’t and won’t force you – what would be the point in that? You are free to carry on as you are and enjoy whatever development happens around you. But where’s the fun in that? Getting involved, at whatever level works for you – behind the scenes or upfront – will really help to bring communities closer together and truly show people what Camelon and Tamfourhill are made of. TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.

How do I get involved?
Ah – this is a joy to our hearts when someone asks this question. There are MANY WAYS to get involved and at VARIOUS LEVELS. One group is the Kemlin Kin group that is made up of local residents and organisations working in the area who are passionate about bringing positive development to Camelon and Tamfourhill and improving local Community Safety. This is a great way in to finding out what is going on and meeting other people. It will also introduce you to other groups that might be good for you to get more involved with. But don’t worry, I know that not everyone wants to be on a committee but they would be more than happy to get their hands dirty with practical work. So if a group of this nature isn’t for you then there are plenty of other more practical ways you can get involved too. Really, the best thing to do is to stick your head above the parapet and get in touch with us. We can then discuss the options with you and also see what support you might need to get involved.

Hopefully this has helped. But if you have any further concerns, questions or comments, please give me a shout and I’ll happily discuss this further with you.

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Turning enthusiasm into action

Clever people tell me of the ancient Greek word “enthos” which means “from within”. Literally, it has religious connotations, but from this ancient word we get todays word enthusiasm. So what is your ‘enthos’? What enthuses you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it money? A necessity? Or a passion to do, be or create something? Or maybe you don’t know what to do with this dream inside you. Maybe you have an idea, a passion, a goal that is burning within you and you don’t know what to do with it. Maybe life – those around you – your own mind – is telling you that you can’t do anything with it.

Everyone has a different ‘enthos’. And everyone has a right to bring that to a reality yet so many miss out because they never took that first step. Or worse, that someone stopped them taking that first step. If you’re enthusiastic about something, now is the time to put things into action.

I should add at this point that there are those who don’t like the word enthusiasm or enthusiast. They change it for ‘fanatic’ or say the person is literally ‘possessed’ by the topic or activity in question. Okay, that may be a very literal translation of the word but we are not going anywhere near that kind of description – it is not helpful and stops some people with a genuine enthusiasm for something from actually going through with it.

It is said that the wealthiest place on the planet is a graveyard, because of all the ideas, dreams and passions that lay unfulfilled. That enthusiasm someone had for something but never went through with it for various reasons. That idea to create something that never came through because someone told them it would never work. That passion to develop a local activity that never got off the ground because of lack of support.

Let’s not allow this kind of history to repeat itself. Whatever it is that is burning within you, we’d love to chat with you about it. We can help you work through the processes you’d need to go through to make it a reality. Through our direct support, and signposting you to the support of others, your ‘enthos’ can come out from within your mind and become a reality.

In closing, have a watch of this short video that asks what drives you. It uses a lot of sporting imagery but take note of the dialogue. Now is your time.