The Right to Exist: The Story of the Clydebank Independent Resource Centre

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Abstract

This book tells ‘the story’ of what is today called the Clydebank Independent Resource Centre (CIRC). It has been written because people working on Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme in Scotland came to the view that a work telling the Centre’s story could make an important contribution to the development of genuinely community-based responses to the experience of poverty in contemporary Scotland.

The Centre’s story is that of an organisation which has remained solidly rooted in its local community for well over three decades. During that time it has worked consistently, and with success beyond all reasonable expectation, to express and address the needs of that community. It has been able to continue to do that in circumstances where other organisations might well have lost their independence, been co-opted to the agendas of others, and quite possibly been killed off – all occurrences which have been rather too common in the stories of other community organisations.
Across its life-span the Centre has also witnessed the coming and going of a bewildering range of so-called ‘regeneration’ projects, which have been initiated by different governments and have involved a wide range of organisations and agencies. Its own record of enduring achievement stands in stark contrast to the records of these projects, and of many of the organisations and agencies associated with them. Indeed the story of the Centre provides a very productive perspective from which to view and critically assess the nature and role of ‘regeneration’ over three decades.

All of this means that the Centre’s story does indeed seem to have some rather special significance. If policy makers at national level really want to begin to understand how to develop ‘community based initiatives’ and how to ‘combat poverty’, then they would do well to begin by learning about what the Centre has achieved and how it has achieved it. It has actually delivered results where official – and often very expensive – regeneration programmes have conspicuously failed, and it has done so on the basis of at best very modest support from government.

At the same time, and rather more importantly, the story of the Centre also offers something of great importance for local communities. For it can help community organisations, and those sympathetic to them, to begin to think beyond the largely defensive lines along which they have tended to respond to the experience of poverty and ‘regeneration’ in recent decades. It seems to help, that is, in beginning to think more positively and expansively about possibilities for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherOxfam Scotland and Clydebank Independent Resource Centre
Commissioning bodyOxfam Scotland: UK Poverty Programme
Number of pages137
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2008
Externally publishedYes

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