Case study which highlights the work of STRiVE, a third sector interface in East Lothian, and its initiative to strengthen the participation of third sector organisations in local governance.

Summary

Figure 1: The participation and representation process  Showing a large arrow with four boxes along the arrow's shaft which, moving towards the arrow-head, contain this text: 1st workshop: mapping issue and vision; 2nd workshop: developing proposals; 3rd (extra) workshop: refining proposals; Online phase to enable broader participation.The report outlines the context of the work of STRiVE, a third sector interface (TSI) in East Lothian as it sought to strengthen the participation of third sector organisations in local governance. It reviews the process that was deployed, the challenges that were faced and the outcomes of this deliberative exercise.

The process resulted in a fundamental shift in how the third sector is represented in East Lothian; rather than the third sector voice being mediated by STRiVE, third sector organisations now participate directly in the process of selecting delegates and in being delegates in local governance processes.

The report has seven key insights

  1. The current system of third sector representation struggles to be effective and democratic
  2. Local third sector organisations are keen to develop and engage in models to strengthen participation and representation
  3. Democratisation can be initiated from the top
  4. Bringing third sector organisations into local governance requires negotiation
  5. The commitment to subsidiarity in CPPs is a qualified one
  6. There is still a long way to go for the third sector to be considered a full community planning partner
  7. There is strong democratic potential in the TSI being a facilitator and an enabler, rather than a representative

The STRiVE experience highlights the potential for third sector interface organisations to play a facilitating and enabling role, rather than a traditional representative one.

The researchers conclude that a TSI that works more democratically can help to enable better representation of the diversity of third sector voices. This, in turn, increases its legitimacy and scope for influence. It is harder for other local actors and institutions to disregard a TSI that demonstrates strong democratic credentials. Stronger third sector representation can, in turn, help to improve local governance and outcomes for the communities it serves.

Download the publication

Participation and representation: Strengthening the third sector voice in local governance (PDF)

More details

Authors:

  • Jane Cullingworth is a PhD candidate supported by What Works Scotland and based at the University of Glasgow
  • Dr Oliver Escobar is a co-Director at What Works Scotland and based at the University of Edinburgh.

Type of publication: Research report

Date of publication: March 2019


Related resources

Third sector participation and representation in East Lothian

Report which describes the process by which STRiVE, the TSI for East Lothian, with support from What Works Scotland, opened a conversation with local third sector organisations to discuss effective participation and representation.

September 2016

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