Galashiels Wins Improving Scotland’s Places SURF Award

The outcomes of the prestigious 25th Anniversary SURF Awards for Best Practice in Community Regeneration were announced recently  at a celebratory presentation event in Glasgow’s Voco Grand Central Hotel. SURF were delighted to be joined by over 270 guests to celebrate the 25th annual SURF Award programme.

Representatives of the five category winning initiatives for 2023 were personally congratulated on their inspiring work by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP.

The SURF Awards are delivered each year by SURF, a regeneration forum with over 300 cross-sector member organisations across Scotland, in partnership for 20 years with the Scottish Government. The purpose is to highlight, celebrate and share the achievements of initiatives that address physical, social and economic challenges in communities across Scotland, which is particularly prevalent given the impacts of the pandemic and the current cost for living crisis.

SURF’s panel of 15 independent judges are drawn from national regeneration bodies and community groups. They carefully assessed all of the varied SURF Awards nominations in five thematic categories, visiting 15 different shortlisted initiatives from Dumfries and Galloway to Shetland and Skye, before selecting the following category winners:

Removing Barriers to Employability: ABZWorks Employability Support (Aberdeen). Working across Aberdeen, ABZWorks provide an employability support service for care experienced young people.

Housing and Regeneration: Goathill Housing and Care Home Project (Stornoway, Isle of Lewis). An ambitious initiative to meet the varying needs of the island’s population, with a 52 bed residential care home, 50 housing with extra care flats, 58 homes for social rent, and 16 Homes for sale through the shared equity scheme.

Community Led Regeneration: Govan HELP – The Govan Pantry (Glasgow). The Govan HELP Pantry supports people who are experiencing food poverty in the G51 postcode area of Glasgow, whilst also providing training, volunteering and employability opportunities.

Creative Regeneration: Wild Skies Shetland (Unst, Shetland). Wild Skies Shetland encourages locals and visitors to appreciate Shetland’s ever changing, beautiful, dramatic skies, whilst helping to improve the economic outlook for one of Shetland’s poorer island communities.

Improving Scotland’s Places: Vibrant Gala Project (Galashiels, Scottish Borders). Energise Galashiels Trust (EGT), a community-based organisation, was established in to respond to the continuing decline in the town centre with the aim of creating a more vibrant and welcoming community.

Ian Dalgleish, EGT Chair, said: “All of those involved with Energise Galashiels Trust over the last 9-10 years have worked tirelessly on various projects to make Galashiels a more vibrant place for locals and visitors.

Winning the “Most Improved Place” category at the 25th SURF awards ceremony last night, and the “Creative Town” award at Scotland’s Town Partnership awards ceremony last month is recognition of the combined efforts of the many volunteers who have given their time, passion and commitment over that period.

The last 3-4 years, with funding support from South of Scotland Enterprise and Scottish Borders Council, have seen EGT deliver projects such as the murals and sculpture placements, linked to the Tapestry Way Study, which were instrumental in securing both awards for the town.

EGT are delighted to have received both awards and will continue working on, and supporting, projects such as the Town Team and the Business Improvement District (BID) to make our town even better.”

The five winning projects all demonstrate the value of a long-term approach to regeneration, with dedicated partners working strategically and inclusively to develop comprehensive plans and deliver real and sustainable benefits for all.

The evening concluded with an after dinner speech from Poet and Performer Kevin P. Gilday, who has just completed a tour of the UK with his highly acclaimed one man show Spam Valley.

Vibrant Gala (2)

5a Bank St, Galashiels, TD1 1EN

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