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AN EVALUATION OF THE GREENSPACES PROGRAMME Evaluation Team

Hampton K; McDowell E and Caldwell K January 2008

Abstract
This document reports the evaluation of the Greenspaces Regeneration Programme, funded by the Scottish Executive and delivered by BTCV Scotland between 1 September, 2006 and March, 2007. The evaluation examines the extent to which the aims of the programme have been met and in the light of its findings, assesses the capacity of BTCV Scotland to deliver the Scottish Governments agenda for volunteering, environmental justice and sustainable development. It makes recommendation for the integration of Greenspaces within BTCVs mainstream activity supported by a fully costed business plan and more formal in-house monitoring and evaluation. It also recommends a role for BTCV in developing a specialist volunteer referral scheme for Scotland and in piloting innovative environmental projects.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements The evaluation team Executive Summary page 7

Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Section 4

Introduction and policy context Evaluation: methodology and purpose The findings Discussion of the findings: the role of BTCV

page 9 page 25 page 35

in the delivery of environmental justice and sustainability

page 66 Section 5 The way forward and recommendations page 78

Appendix 1: References

Survey Questionnaire

Acknowledgements
The Evaluation team would like to express their gratitude to the Scottish Executive and BTCV, Scotland for inviting us to evaluate and comment on their work. More importantly, we would like to thank all those who participated in this project. Despite their busy schedules, BTCV volunteers, volunteer managers and volunteer officers made space to share with us their experiences and perceptions, all of which have been extremely valuable for our evaluation. Finally we would like to thank the Director of BTCV Scotland and the Group Operations Director Ron Fern for commenting on earlier drafts of this Report.

The evaluation team


Professor K Hampton (PhD), FHEA, FRSA Kay Hampton is Chair of Communities and Race Relations at Glasgow Caledonian University. As Director of SEMRU (Scottish Ethnic Minorities Research Unit, GCU, 1994-2000) she researched widely in the area of racism and ethnic diversity especially in relation to migration and asylum seeking within Britain and Europe. Her key research interests are on issues relating to inequality, discrimination and social justice both nationally and internationally. During her time at SEMRU, she was involved with a large number commissioned research and evaluation, directed at shaping and influencing public service policies within Scotland and the UK. A key focus of her work continues to be in the area of influencing policy from an academic perspective to ensure that government policy is grounded and supported by sound evidence and research. She spent the last year (2006-2007) on secondment at the Commission for Racial Equality, as Chair of CRE and was previously Deputy-Chair (2003-2006) 2003 and Commissioner for Scotland (2002-2007). She continues to work closely with the Voluntary Sector and held several board memberships and nonexecutive posts over the past 10 years, including the Big Lottery Fund and Scottish Refugee Council. She is currently a Commissioner and Board member of the newly formed Equalities and Human Rights Commission, UK.

Dr Eleanor McDowell, BA (Hons.) PhD (Environmental Sociology)

Dr Eleanor McDowells an independent researcher in environmental policy and practice. From 1995 to February 2008, she was a Lecturer in the School of Law and Social Sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University specialising in Environmental Sociology. She is co-author of Sustainable Working Lives, a European study of flexible work in Scotland, Denmark & Hungary (forthcoming, 2008). She has contributed to various papers and international conferences on theme of environmental justice in both urban and rural settings. She co-edited with James McCormick Environment Scotland: Prospects for Sustainability (1999, Ashgate) and she is currently writing on the theme of Environmental Sociology for an academic textbook (forthcoming 2008). Contact: elnr.mcdowell@gcal.ac.uk

Ms Kay Caldwell, M.A. (Hons.) Kay Caldwell is a free-lance editor and communications consultant. Her career has been spent principally in the voluntary sector where for ten years she ran a research, information, training and support service for social and co-operative enterprises and produced a range of publications on social enterprise and its role in community economic development.

Until 2006 she was Head of External Relations at the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland in which capacity she delivered training in methods of self-evaluation for community organizations and their statutory support services.

Since then she has been engaged in editing a number of academic publications in the field of social care policy and the philosophy of law.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

BTCV Scotland is a volunteering organisation which provides people with the opportunity to become active in improving their environment. From 1 September 2006 31 March 2007, BTCV Scotland delivered a Greenspaces Programme funded by a grant of 400,000 from the (then) Scottish Executive.

The aims of the Greenspaces programme were multiple: to deliver individual benefit outcomes to volunteers, to stimulate volunteering in local environments, create opportunities for urban groups to experience Scotlands natural heritage, expand its network of volunteer groups and to develop a structured approach to environmental volunteering. In addition, through the Greenspaces programme BTCV Scotland aimed to show how its work in could be sustained, strengthened and developed to deliver multiple outcomes which complement a range of government policies and strategies in relation to people and places. This evaluation aims to establish the extent to which these objectives have been met and to elucidate lessons that can be learned. In particular it seeks to determine the role of BTCV Scotland in implementing government policy on volunteering, environmental justice and sustainable development. The evaluation also explores the possibility of developing a standard framework for future monitoring of this and other programmes within BTCV Scotland and by BTCV externally. The methodology approach was qualitative, supported by quantitative data. Data was collected over the period 1 September 2006 31 July 2007 from face-to-face interviews and questionnaires.

Findings BTCV Scotland delivered all of the planned outputs of the programme within the time-frame. A significant number of volunteer opportunities were created and a diverse volunteer force attracted to the programme. A substantial number of sites across Scotland were improved or regenerated.

The programme fully met volunteers expectations and delivered the desired

outcomes in terms of improved self esteem, better sense of health and well being and improvements to environmental awareness and behaviour. BTCV could, however, do more to promote to volunteers the availability of formal training courses and encourage their uptake. The programme was outstandingly successful in involving groups of people who do not normally volunteer. This was especially true in respect of gender, race, disability and social background.

The evaluators found BTCVs reputation with its stakeholders to be very high, both with those volunteer agencies and health service providers who referred volunteers to the programme, and with those site owners or managers who provided sites for regeneration activity. The programme consolidated existing relationships and developed new partnerships with the commercial and health sectors.

Recommendations There are two main areas for development. We recommend that the Greenspaces programme is integrated into BTCV Scotlands ongoing programmes of work, financed by a discrete funding stream and supported by a fully costed business plan. (Recommendations 1 5). We also believe that BTCV Scotland should take the lead in developing a strategy for a specialist volunteer referral scheme. This would be of immediate practical value to health service providers and other agencies concerned with the welfare of people who have special volunteering support needs. BTCV Scotland is also extremely well placed to collaborate with academics and researchers in applied research. (Recommendations (9&11). Other recommendations relate to widening access to its training courses, improving its internal monitoring and evaluation processes and further development and promotion of the green gym concept.

SECTION ONE: INTRODUCTION AND POLICY CONTEXT

We believe that the environment belongs to everyone, and that everyone has a right to a good quality environment. Conserving and improving the environment is as much about social justice as it is about enhancing biodiversity. BTCV (2006:2)

Introduction

With almost 50 years of hands-on experience in environmental volunteering, BTCV is well versed in the notions of sustainable development and environmental justice. Indeed, these principals form an integral part of the organisations ethos and operations. Established as an organisation1 that initially focused mainly on environmental conservation volunteering, BTCV has over the decades, broadened its focus to include, training and education programmes pertaining to the environment. Since the early 1990s BTCV has made a concerted effort to connect people to the environment through major national volunteering projects including, amongst others, Environments for All, Green Gym, CLAN and Conservation holidays (BTCV, Strategic Plan 2004-2008).

A review of BTCVs history reveals an organisation that has grown and evolved to keep in step with rapid environment and social changes over five decades. From being a reactive organisation in the 50s, BTCV can best now be described as a proactive, 21st century organisation, which takes into account contemporary global and national environmental challenges while attempting to respond to local need by finding local solutions for local environmental concerns. Tom Flood, Chief Executive of BTCV, concurs:

Conservation Corps re-launched itself as BTCV in the 70s

BTCV is a unique international volunteering organisation providing the bridge between global environmental ideals and local realitiesour workday activities were spent on biodiversity, horticulture, habitat creation, woodland management, education, community development and Adult Learning. (In Annual Review 2006-2007: - 2007a: 2)

Local activities are delivered through BTCVs four country offices2, nine regional offices, 414 full-time staff, 148 part-time staff and 300 Volunteer Officers. Nonetheless, its core activities would not be possible without the support of its volunteers. In the current financial year (2006-2007) BTCV engaged with over 287 000 volunteers on 15 000 conservation sites and involved 4 000 communities (ibid: 2). It is worth noting that BTCV had set itself a target in 2004 to enrich the lives of 1 Million people by 2008, through involvement with BTCV.3 With relatively small income of just over 26 Million during this financial year (2006-2007)4, BTCVs broad success is rooted in its ability to attract and manage the input of volunteers in a strategic and effective manner.

1.1 BTCV in Scotland


Previously operating as Scottish Conservation Projects, BTCV in Scotland restructured and re-branded itself as BTCV Scotland in 1998. Operating in a completely devolved manner, BTCV Scotland has a network of local offices across Scotland with staff and volunteers available to assist community groups undertake preferred local environmental schemes5. Support, in its own words (Burns) varies from project to project and include:

initial advice to help groups formulate their plans, through to


2 3 4

BTCV England, Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland, BTCV Scotland and BTCV Wales. Volunteering opportunities, employment, improved health and life-skills enhancement

BTCV has no core funding and its income comes mainly from successful funding bids to charitable trusts, national lottery distribution bodies, private and public funders.
5

A BTCV Scotland volunteer team comprises 6-10 people who are fully equipped with an experienced project leader, a mini-bus or suitable alternative vehicle, necessary tools and equipment, a qualified first-aider, insurance cover and procedures to risk assess each activitysource: Burns, 2007: 47

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assistance on the ground to translate these ideas into action.


(2007b: 46)

BTCV Scotlands mission to create a better environment where people are valued, included and involved resonates with present-day debates on sustainable development, environmental justice, social justice and the notion of active citizenship in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2005, Scottish Executive 2006, DEFRA, 2005, Dalgleish, 2006). Moreover their mission to create a more sustainable future by inspiring people and improving places (BTCV, Strategic plan 2004-2008) is well demonstrated in a recent programme of activities6, undertaken by BTCV Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Executive. Indeed, it is this programme of activities that is central to the objectives of this evaluation report.

As will be noted in the following section, the strategic framework constructed by BTCV, for delivery of the programme, appears to be strongly influenced by current debates on sustainable development and environmental justice (See discussions in 1.2; 1.3). Moreover, BTCV Scotlands strategic framework for this programme is underpinned by principles of sustainability within the context of emerging Scottish Government policies in relation to regeneration and the environment (See discussion in SECTION 4). The need for a strategic approach to urban and rural regeneration has long been recognized (Roberts and Sykes, 2000) yet it is only in recent years that substantive local strategies and policies (Scottish Executive, 20027; Scottish Executive, 20058) have emerged from the Scotland Government. Underpinned by ideologies of sustainable development and environmental justice contemporary policies make clear the interconnection between the physical environment and social conditions, especially in relation to quality of life and equality. It may be useful at this point to provide a brief insight into the notions of sustainable development and environmental justice.

6 7 8

Greenspaces Regeneration Programme Scottish Executive, 2000, Building a Sustainable Scotland Scottish Executive, 2005,Choosing our Future: Scotlands Sustainability Strategy

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1.2

Theoretical Context

Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice


Sustainable Development is a term now recognisable in environmental arenas throughout the world. The term was first coined in the 1980 World Conservation Strategy (IUCN/UNEP/WWF) but gained greater attention in the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly known as the Brundtland Report. The concept introduced into the environmental debate an expression of the interdependence between three systems identified as basic to development: the economic system, the social system, and the environmental system. Sustainability has thus become popular because it can be used to support various agendas economic, political, social and environmental. If society, economy and environment are viewed as unrelated entities, this can give rise to piece-meal, short-term solutions that produce opposing groups, for example, environmentalists vs business. Figure 1 (below) is useful in showing where the inter-relationships exist within the environmental and socio-economic domains.

Figure 1: Three Spheres of Sustainable Development

(Adapted from Munasinge 1993; Serageldin 1993).

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Sustainable development is therefore one of the most compelling concepts to emerge in recent decades. Central to its meaning is the principle of futurity which implies we should have a long term view of the environment. Thus, we have not inherited the earth from our parents we have borrowed it from our children (Selman, 1996:11). Following on from futurity is the notion of inter-generational equity or social justice underpinned by the widely adopted Brundtland definition of sustainable development: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987).

As a concept sustainable development has obvious strengths in harnessing diverse interests towards a common cause - to advance the balance between social, economic and environmental aspects of development. In practice however, the notion of sustainable development is more difficult to pin-down. Redcliffe (1993) emphasises the range in meaning that gives it so many applications. A wide variety of groups ranging from business and government to international organisations have adopted the concept of sustainable development and given it their own particular interpretation.

Indeed, as soon as one starts to dig below the surface of public rhetoric, a number of serious questions emerge about our general acceptance of these concepts. There are concerns that sustainability or sustainable development is too vague or ill defined to be of any practical use in decision-making and real life policy implementation (Jacobs 1999:22). In the same vein, we hear the warning that aims such as sustainability are lightly professed in theory without looking at all at practical realization (Achterhuis 1994: 198). Thus, like many other political concepts such as democracy, liberty, equality and social justice, the meaning of sustainability and sustainable development is essentially up for grabs (Dobson, 1999).

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1.3

Scottish Policy Context

The Challenge of Sustainability


In Building a Sustainable Scotland (2002) the Scottish Executive claimed that:

Sustainable Development is not an optional extra. Our social, economic and environmental ambitions are interlinked and we must work to deliver all three if we are going to deliver the quality of life we want for ourselves and for future generations. Scottish Executive, Building a Sustainable Scotland (2002)

The above quote and more recent documents such as Choosing our Future: Scotlands Sustainable Development Strategy (2005) and the Scottish Executives regeneration policy People and Place (2006) emphasised the desire and commitment to apply sustainable principles to current aspects of policy. At a national level, sustainable development initiatives have become a key policy tool for renewing neighbourhoods enhancing community livability and empowering communities. However, the generality of the concept tends to obscure the complexity of working out the true costs and trade-offs involved in implementing sustainable policy across various spheres in society. In an effort to move towards a more pragmatic application of sustainability, Jacobs (1999) identified six core themes associated with contemporary debates on sustainability (See LIST BOX 1 below), that presumably few government representatives would take issue with.

LIST BOX 1 14

JACOBS 1999: CORE THEMES ASSOCIATED WITH SUSTAINABILITY integration: of environmental considerations in economic planning Futurity: concern about the impact of current decisions on future generations. Environmental Protection: policies to reduce environmental damage Equity: commitment to meeting the basic needs of the poor today and in the future. Quality of Life: economic growth does not equate with human well-being. Participation: sustainable development requires as much involvement as possible by individuals and groups if it is to work.

Thus, sustainable development has many dimensions and if sustainability is to mean anything, local people and communities must play an active part in shaping and delivering sustainable initiatives aligned to the needs, aspirations, and circumstances of their own communities. Requirements for sustainability also vary between communities, over time. Thus, it follows that no static or prescriptive approach can be fully employed to guarantee community sustainability. Nevertheless, it is vitally important to develop systematic approaches in assessing how sustainability can be promoted and in responding to issues that undermine it.

1.4

Bridging the Gap: Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice

The movement for environmental justice grew as a reaction to the limitations of mainstream environmentalism, which were viewed as being dominated by elitist, white, upper-class environmental individuals that reflected a narrow range of views. Further, many argued that the traditional environmental movement was not adequately addressing issues such as race, power and inequality (Bullard, 1993). Various studies alert us to the fact that when it comes to analysing distributional consequences, both social and spatial, lower income groups are more prone to experience environmental problems, unwanted development, and a lack of consultation in the overall decision-making process.

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Despite significant improvements in environmental protection over several decades, many people continue to live in unsafe and unhealthy physical environments. Over the past decade there has been a substantial rise in evidence correlating the proximity to environmental degradation with an individual or groups social class, ethnic status and geographical location (Bullard, 1993; Bullard and Johnson 2000; Agyeman and Evans, 2004).

Many deprived areas in Scotland reveal the highest levels of pollutant concentrations (Scandrett et al 2000; FoE 2001; Dunion, 2003). Other studies show that people living in the most deprived areas, mostly but not exclusively in urban Scotland, experience by far the worst environments, not just in terms of pollution, but with respect to more general problems of litter, derelict sites, graffiti, gaps in amenity and services. Often these are the most densely populated areas, with higher levels of high-rise buildings and undefended open spaces (JRF, 2001; Hastings et al 2005). Moreover, Agyeman and Evans (2004) note that Scottish communities located in the worst environments are more likely to be those with least power, mainly caused by their poverty, unemployment, long-term sickness, isolation or more likely a combination of these.

The Scottish Executive affirmed its commitment to sustainable development and the need to combine economic progress with social and environmental justice (2002). It is notable that one of the first major policy speeches by former First Minister Jack McConnell acknowledged the growing importance of environmental justice:

Too often the environment is dismissed as a concern of those who are not confronted with bread and butter issues. But the reality is the people who have the most urgent environmental concerns in Scotland are those who cope daily with the consequences of a poor quality of life, and live in a rotten environment, close to industrial pollution, plagued by vehicle emissions, streets filled with litter and walls covered in graffiti. This is true for Scotland and also true elsewhere in the world. These are circumstances which would not be acceptable to better off communities in our society, and those who have to endure such environments in which to bring up a family, or grow old themselves are being denied environmental justice.

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Extract from Speech by the then First Minister, Jack McConnell at ERM Environment Lecture, Edinburgh, February 2002.

Despite this high-level commitment and a recognition that environmental justice could play a role in existing policies for sustainability and social exclusion, evidence of environmental inequalities draw attention to where sustainable polices could be more effective. This highlights an emerging discourse around the key concepts of environmental justice and sustainability - the just sustainability nexus. Agyeman and Evans (2004:5) contend that public policy (environmental or otherwise) must strive to ensure it does not disproportionately disadvantage any particular social group and affords opportunity to all as a precondition in pursuit of a just and sustainable future.

It is clear that with this approach, different aspects of social exclusion could be addressed through environmental action, including poor housing, long-term unemployment, ill health, restricted access to resources and weak participation in decision-making. Local input is vital in order to relate local, parochial concerns to more strategic questions, and by showing what is successful and where more work is needed. Solutions for a just, sustainable future are also compelling because the environment is one of the most important determinants of public health. Higher levels of environmental monitoring, access to new resources, better use of existing resources and the participation of local expertise, is essential to the benefit of the community and the wider environment.

Thus, the environmental agenda is almost limitless and incorporates many of the key issues facing contemporary society. The introduction of sustainable development and more recently environmental justice has clearly broadened the basis of environmental concern to include among other things: education, poverty, welfare reform, quality of life, inclusion, equity and public health as well as purely ecological issues. When we unite the environment with civic and voluntary action we have the potential to enhance personal and community capacity in wider aspects of public policy. However, strategies to support voluntary action must win the hearts and minds of individuals and communities (not just the support of formal agencies) if they are to work effectively in practice. In the next sub-section, we consider environmental volunteering as one particular expression of voluntary action in this sphere.

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1.4

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Scotland

Environmental Volunteering in

We will promote the expansion of environmental volunteering across Scotland, to involve people more in improving their own communities, and we will work with local authorities to maximise the opportunity for everyone to be more active in safe, appealing environments in their own communities. Scottish Government, Scottish Budget Spending Review (November 2007)

Volunteering is often conceptualised as autonomous activity arising within civil society, freely undertaken without payment. It is therefore unpaid work, given free from coercion. Volunteering takes place in various settings across the UK, including in the voluntary sector, but it is distinct from voluntary sector work, being paid employment within a voluntary organisation. Volunteering may be driven by personal development, service-giving and campaigning motivations, among others.

People volunteer for a variety of reasons and although there is an intrinsic value in volunteering - questions are increasingly raised concerning: Who is or is not volunteering? Why do people volunteer? What can be done to support wider volunteering in society, especially for difficult to reach groups? How can we measure the impact and value of volunteering? Such questions are intrinsically difficult to answer, for as Albert Einstein said Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts. Therefore, despite the growing political emphasis on the role of the voluntary sector there is evidence of a lack of awareness regarding the complex and contradictory realities of voluntary action. Thus, tensions exist between internal values or aims and the external policy environment; varied expectations from stakeholders and financial opportunities and constraints.

Recent data from the Scottish Household Survey (2003) reveal a converse relationship between those who would potentially have much to gain from

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volunteering and those who actively volunteer. Although most people would benefit in some capacity from volunteering, individuals who are on the lowest incomes (tending to have fewer skills; few or no educational qualifications; be refugees or asylum seekers; and/or live in the worst neighbourhoods) are least likely to participate. This raises serious questions regarding why such large variations exist among those who volunteer and those who dont - and ultimately, what can be done in practice to close the gap in volunteering rates.

1.5

BTCV Scotland Response to Ideological and Policy Changes

Developments in ideological thinking and policy shifts discussed in the preceding sub-sections have had a huge influence on local thinking in regard to regeneration and relationships between the physical and the social (Sutton, 2004). Subsequently, environmental volunteering organisations like BTCV Scotland have taken a lead from wider academic and political debates and have over the last decade attempted to develop coherent frameworks for sustainability delivery of eco-social outcomes.

Nevertheless, years of improvised policies on regeneration and environmental issues are reflected in the current nature of work in this area, including that of BTCV. Carter in (Robert and Sykes, 2000) note for example that ad hoc funding has left behind a trail of random projects which despite being excellent, are nevertheless not effectively joined-up to make substantive or sustainable impact. They concede however, that in recent years that there is a growing recognition that

Successful urban re-generation requires a strategically designed, locally based, multi-sector, multi-agency partnership approach Roberts and Sykes, 2000: 37

It is encouraging to note that BTCV Scotland galvanized opportunities presented by a substantive grant to logically thread together its existing volunteering projects on sustainable development in a coherent manner to form a platform from which to launch the Greenspaces Regeneration Programme.

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1.5.1

BTCV Greenspaces Regeneration Programme9

The Scottish Executives interest in building a sustainable Scotland as reflected in preceding discussions (Scottish Executive, 2002) and more recently, their acknowledgment of the benefits of involving local people and partnerships in the delivery of their regeneration policy10 (Scottish Executive, 2006) inspired BTCV to reorganise the delivery of their work so that it might be more closely aligned to that of Scottish government agenda. Many years of development work with the then Scottish Executive on projects relating to environmental improvement and sustainable action resulted in a significant financial boost for BTCV Scotland to deliver the start of a Greenspaces Regeneration Programme across Scotland.

In September 2006, BTCV Scotland11 received a grant of 400,000 from the Scottish Executive to deliver elements of the governments regeneration programme, through environmental volunteering. In commenting on the grant, the Director of BTCV Scotland noted the following:

essentially the award is supporting what we do best, developing and working with volunteers to improve the environment. However there is a very important difference in carrying out this work in that there is recognition, perhaps for the first time, that the benefits that accrue to individuals is a paramount consideration whilst working in the environment CLAN, (2007, pp: 3)

The programme of work, which is being delivered by all of BTCV Scotland offices, engages local people with the overall aim of seeking both individual and environmental outcomes. For individuals, the desired outcomes include healthier lifestyles, learning and skills development, inclusion, improved employability, environmental awareness and building confidence. All of these are crucial
9

Hereafter referred to as Greenspaces People and Place

10 11

BTCV Scotland operates from twelve locations throughout Scotland and delivers a range of projects tailored to suit locations across Scotland.

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components for improved quality of life within enhanced living spaces. This in effect is the overarching aim of the Greenspaces programme. In keeping with policy developments within Scotland, through this programme BTCV Scotland attempts to work where possible with people who suffer disadvantage through their cultural background, social status, health, age or lack of numeracy and literacy skills. In sum, Greenspaces sets out offer a package of environmental activities, which in practical ways, bridge sustainable development with environmental justice through environmental volunteering.

While the primary focus of the BTCV Scotlands Greenspaces is the regeneration of green spaces, the projects within the programme evolved from the immediate social and economic concerns of local communities. The Scottish Executive funding allowed BTCV Scotland to dedicate substantive staff resources for significant time periods during a six months period until March 2007. The main objective in doing so was to invest in tangible outputs in regeneration sites and to maximise outcome benefits for individuals in the communities (quality of life), volunteers (development) and the broader locality (environmental regeneration).

In devising its delivery framework, BTCV Scotland sought to build on existing projects and devise new activities based on locally articulated requirements. This inclusive developmental approach not only compliments BTCVs underlying ethos of sustainable development but also ensures that the organisations expertise and knowledge accumulated through years of local engagement is put to effective use. In essence, BTCV Scotlands extensive experience and expertise is being creatively used to exploit the latent potential for regeneration that has hitherto not been effectively tapped by other agencies, or indeed BTCV itself due to limited resources.

It fair so say that funding from the Scottish Executive has been crucial in allowing BTCV Scotland the opportunity to co-ordinate existing activities associated with regeneration in a more coherent manner. In doing so, BTCV Scotland is building on its existing achievements and at the same time is developing additional areas of work with the intention of trialing new forms of activity and frameworks for the delivery of environmental volunteering.

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In Aberdeen, for instance, the team is researching the extent of Greenspaces opportunities that exist in order to determine a long-term strategy for local engagement and improvement. On the other hand, by building on an existing project, the Green Gym, BTCV Scotland extends its current project to include a major new focus on health and young people by piloting school Green Gyms at 7 Primary Schools across Scotland. Moreover, this development has enabled BTCV Scotland to expand its partnerships by working with new agencies across Scotland.

Indeed, as will be reflected in later discussion, the evaluation uncovered a number of interesting partnerships between Local Authorities, Private Enterprise and Community Groups. Partners are able to work with BTCV Scotland for mutual social and environmental benefit. By bringing their own particular interests and expertise to the project, both BTCV Scotland and its partners are able to make a wider, sustained impact with their activities across Scotland. A prime example of this is the Braehead Shopping Centre in Renfrewshire. This partner joined with BTCV in early 2007 to develop Green Gym projects on Brownfield sites12 in the Paisley area. Similarly, in Linwood a project has just been initiated as an introduction to what is likely to develop into a Green Gym project run from within the local shopping centre. Thus by broadening access to those who might not otherwise engage in healthy activities, local shoppers are introduced to the notion of environmental volunteering in an everyday context - the shopping mall.

In sum, the Greenspaces programme demonstrates how existing work can be sustained, strengthened and developed to deliver multiple outcomes and at the same time, can be complimentary to a range of government policies and strategies pertaining to people and places without necessarily reinventing the legendary wheel. A positive element of this project is that by carefully bridging a range of locally targeted projects, from community gardening in South Ayrshire to woodland regeneration in Inverness, from youth inclusion in Edinburgh to a Peace of Mind Garden in Stirling, BTCV Scotland has demonstrated the possibilities of delivering both local solutions for local concerns whilst maximising impact nationally. In this respect, BTCV Scotland has shown that by the creative linking of in-house skills and expertise to address contemporary environmental challenges, important links can be established between its organisational goals and local, national and global agendas.
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A regeneration site 22

1.5.2

Aim and Objective of Greenspaces

The aim and objectives of Greenspaces are set within the ideological and policy developments outlined in the preceding discussion. The primary aim of the project is as follows: To make a substantive contribution to the implementation of the Scottish Executives policy agenda across a numbers of policy areas, by focusing on the green space regeneration

Within the context of this overarching aim, the key objectives of Greenspaces are to

i)

Deliver individual beneficial outcomes to volunteers in relation to healthy lifestyles, learning and skills development, inclusion, employability, confidence building and environmental awareness

ii)

Stimulate volunteering in local environments as a means to generate

a sense of place and the capacity to influence regeneration through self-help

iii)

Create opportunities for urban groups to experience Scotlands

natural heritage

iv)

Expand the network of volunteer groups through BTCV Scotland

Community Local Action Network (CLAN)

v)

Develop a structured approach to environmental volunteering which

provides a means to measure the distance travelled by individual volunteers in terms of environmental and social development and where possible the means to provide accreditation of individual development.

Subsequently, the primary aim of this evaluation, which is discussed in the 23

following sections is to establish the extent to which these objectives have been met, elucidate lessons that can be learned (in terms of volunteer management) and to gain insights into the possibility of developing a standard framework for future monitoring of this and other programmes within BTCV Scotland and externally.

In the section that follows immediately (SECTION TWO), an overview of the aim, objectives and methodological approach for this evaluation is given. The importance of evaluation at an early stage of programme development is highlighted given the particular benefits that this can have in terms of learning, development, programme sustainability and strategic interventions (Weiss, 2003).

SECTION TWO: THE EVALUATION

The aim of formative evaluation is to provide descriptive and judgmental information, leading to refinement, improvement, alterations, and /or modification in the evaluand, while the aim of summative evaluation is to determine impacts, outcomes, or results. Lincoln and Guba, (986b: 550 in Shaw 1999: 10)

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2.1

Methodological Context

Shaw (ibid) draws on Lincoln and Guba to illustrate the multiple understandings that people have of the concept, evaluation. Over the last four decades academic evaluators (House 1980, Patten 1990, Scriven, 1997, Stake, 1997, Weiss, 2003, 2004) have deliberated the difference between research and evaluation, the link between theory and practice, the nature of methodological approaches and the purpose of research and evaluation.

Policy-makers and practitioners, on the other hand, look towards evaluation as an exercise that can provide evidence on the merit and worth of initiatives, interventions, practices or programmes (including action and applied research.) (Cabinet Office, 2003). Shaw (1999) explains that:

Merit, as they [Lincoln and Guba, 1990 in Shaw]13 use the term, refers to the intrinsic, context-free qualities that accompany the evaluand from place to place and are relatively invariantWorth refers to the contextdetermined value, which varies from one context to another.

Thus, while some attempt to establish the worth or value of an activity, plan or object against certain criteria (McKie et al, 2002), others (Rossi, 2004) argue that evaluation is a social science activity directed at collecting, analysing and communicating information about the workings and effectiveness of social programmes. It is therefore evident that evaluators approach to evaluation will be influenced predominantly by who commissions the evaluation, the context within which it is commissioned and the purpose for conducting the evaluation. These factors are will invariably influence the design of the evaluation, methodologies used and interpretation of data collected.

It is worth mentioning that whilst during the 1960s evaluations were generally shaped by positivistic ideologies (Shaw, 1999) which were underpinned mainly by quantitative principles that sought to apply strict measurements of merit and worth, the boom in qualitative methodologies since the 1970s shifted the focus of the
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My insertion

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majority of evaluators. SenGupta (2004) concurs:

the past decade can be rightfully characterized as one where qualitative methods, and consequently mixed-method designs, came of age, coinciding with and contributing to a different understanding of what evaluative endeavor means (In Weiss, Evaluation Exchange ix 4: 3)

Such developments in evaluation have made evaluators appear more empathetic and humane. Previously seen as the enemy of practitioners, conducting their business purely for punitive reasons (Shaw, 1999), evaluators are increasingly being perceived in a more positive and constructive light. Similarly, the expectations of those who commission evaluations are currently directed, more often, towards a desire for knowledge and understanding of social processes, information on specific areas of work to broaden understandings of issues and data on what works in practical contexts (Weiss, 2003, 2004).

As a result of these advances in the evaluation world, the nature of contemporary evaluations tend to be more closely connected with project planning, organisational development, fit with government policies and overall policy planning processes (May, 2002) with a view to positively changing behaviours and environments within our societies (Weiss, 2003). The outcomes of evaluations therefore tend to focus directly on what can be improved and what can be done to positively change society (Weiss, 2003). It is therefore not surprising that in Britain and elsewhere, academics, governments, policy-makers and voluntary sector practitioners are increasingly encouraging the use of evaluation frameworks that are underpinned by qualitative14, participatory15 approaches (See Cabinet Office, Report, 2003) with quantitative data being recorded mainly for benchmarking and monitoring purposes rather than measuring worth or merit.

2.2.1

The Evaluation Methodology

14 15

See the work of Shaw, 1999, Weiss, (2003, 2004) See the work of Patten, 1990, Hampton, (2001, 2004)

26

The design of this evaluation is strongly influenced by the contemporary methodological trends highlighted in the preceding discussions. Even though the evaluation is qualitatively designed, some quantitative data was gathered to situate the qualitative findings and point toward broad trends and patterns. Information was collected on individual projects within Greenspaces, each of which revealed its own distinctive patterns of success and challenge. Thus throughout the discussions that follow, relevant comments are made on specific projects within the programme.

Notwithstanding this, in the final analysis, the evaluators considered the strengths and weaknesses of Greenspaces in terms of the overall programme aim and objectives and not individual project ones, which, in some instances were established to address specific aspects of the programmes objectives. Consequently, the ultimate design of the evaluation framework is shaped by aim and objectives of the evaluation, which in turn reflects the overarching aims and objectives of Greenspaces. An outline of the evaluation aim and objectives is provided in SubSection 2.2.2 below:

2.2.2

Aim of Evaluation

The aim of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which BTCV Scotlands Greenspaces Programme succeeded in regenerating physical spaces and improving the quality of life of individuals and communities, involved in the project.

2.2.3

Objectives of Evaluation

In terms of realising this aim our principal foci are the key aims and objectives of the Greenspaces Programme. We set out to evaluate four aspects of BTCV Scotlands work in relation to Greenspaces:

i)

The effectiveness of BTCV Scotland in delivering Greenspaces

ii)

The nature and quality of relationships between volunteers, other

27

stakeholders16 and BTCV Scotland.

iii)

The contribution of individual projects within the programme, in

terms of progressing environmental justice within the most disadvantaged communities (individual and environmental benefits)

iv)

The overall achievement of the programme in relation to the

Scottish Executives policies on sustainable development, environmental volunteering and regeneration

In pursuing the first three objectives, the evaluators paid particular attention to the following factors:

(i)

The challenges of starting up Greenspaces projects in the community and prospects for the long-term sustainability of Greenspaces projects beyond the initial involvement of BTCV Scotland.

(ii)

The commercial value of the work carried out by volunteers on Greenspaces

(iii)

Additional benefits and leverage, if any, created by BTCV Scotland involvement in Greenspaces

(iv)

Additional partnerships and inter agency activity, if any, created by the programme

Likewise, in evaluating the effect of the programme in relation to current Scottish government policies on environmental volunteering, regeneration and sustainable development, the evaluators reviewed current literature on Scottish policy and theoretical developments in the field and developed a framework against which the work was is assessed. This is discussed in the final section of this report
16

Reference to BTCV Scotland stake-holders is to a range of external projects partners and other agencies that are influential in programme planning and delivery. These include siteholders, local funders, local authorities, voluntary sector partners, environmental agencies, UK and national government agencies (housing, health, employment and social welfare agencies).

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(SECTION 4). 2.3 Purpose of the Evaluation

It was anticipated that the evaluation would provide information that; i) Will determine whether the programme had achieved its primary aim and objectives i.e. the programme outcome in relation to its effect on individuals and communities - social, personal and environmental (impact) ii) Will identify strengths and weaknesses in programme delivery and content so that lessons can be learned in terms of strategic organizational development and sustainability of programme activities (planning and development) iii) Will enable BTCV Scotland to communicate environmental messages to a range of stakeholders, policy-makers, Scottish government, individuals and community groups in a more confident and coherent manner (increase and share knowledge and understanding) iv) Will enable the development of an integrated mainstream, evaluation framework within the programme to enable ongoing monitoring of progress and systematic evaluation of outcomes in a consistent and sustained manner, post this evaluation (embed long-term evaluation strategy) In addition, the evaluators understand that the Scottish Executive and BTCV Scotland are keen to know how well the programme fits with current developments in environment policies so that further development opportunities might be identified which build on this programme (delivering policy outcomes). In sum, the overall purpose of the evaluation is therefore both formative,17 given its early stage of development and implementation, and summative18 as it also sets out to test initial strengths and weaknesses and early impact on individuals, communities
17

Formative evaluation starts at the beginning of the project development stages and continue throughout its lifetime (National Science Foundation, (2002)
18

Summative evaluation is usually done at the end of programme implementation to assess overall impact, effective delivery of outcomes and quality of work (National Science Foundation, 2002)

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and physical spaces. The former (formative approach) evaluates how well the programme has been managed and delivered and the progress made to date in terms of the original proposal while the latter (summative approach), which is usually done at the end of a programme, assesses the quality of the programme and the impact of the fully implemented programme (National Science foundation, 2002). In this case, the evaluators can only comment on short-term impact given the time-span of the implementation phase (6 months) Accordingly, this evaluation will focus mainly on the formative elements and comment briefly on the summative and will recommend a more detailed impact assessment, building on this one, in a years time.

2.4

Data Collection

One of the key difficulties experienced in gathering data for this evaluation was the limited range of programme information which is currently recorded. While there is a standardized system for recording quantitative data for BTCV and while each office in Scotland records its own quantitative and qualitative information and this is centralized in the management information system, the data collected does not fully reflect the range of interests of this evaluation. The evaluators therefore felt it best to draw from different data sources and to supplement this with a small number of targeted interviews with key informants involved in the programme.

In order to obtain the necessary data from various sources, the triangulation19 (Flick, 2002) methodological approach was adopted. This involved textual analysis (current government policies on environmental volunteering, sustainable development, Greenspaces regeneration and relevant documents published by BTCV. In addition semi-structured interviews (See Appendix 1 for Questionnaire) were conducted with key informants including Volunteers (N=39), BTCV Scotland Area Manager (N=1); BTCV Senior managers (5); Project and Development Officers, (N=5), Green Gym Coordinators (N=7), Clients and Stakeholders (N=8) and Volunteer Officers (N=2). These interviews were in-depth with a view to establishing expectations (prior), experiences (during) and attitudes (during and after) the programme, for exmple
19

Triangulation is a techniques used by researchers that involves the use of multiple methods (both Qualitative and Quantitative, e.g.: observation, textual analysis and interviewing) (Silverman, 2000)

30

i)

What does the programme look and feel like to participants and other stakeholders?

ii) iii) iv) v) vi)

How much is known about the programme outside the organization? Thoughts about programme operation, processes and outcomes Participants and stakeholders expectations features of the programme perceived as important Impact/changes experienced as a result of involvement in the programme

In addition to the 67 targeted interviews (39 of which were postal questionnaires completed by volunteers and the rest face to face) that were conducted, data was extracted from the following additional sources: 10 Questionnaires completed by volunteers of the Green Gym project from a research conducted by Oxford Brookes University 70 Questionnaires completed by school children attending the six Green Gym projects run by schools (Satisfaction Survey)

2.4.1

Questionnaire Design: Interviews with Key Informants

The questionnaire for the targeted interviews was based on a design that was originally devised by Evaluation Support Scotland (2006) taking advice from a small working group, comprising four volunteers and three members of BTCV Scotland staff. This working group discussed its expectations of evaluation and concluded it would find it useful at this stage to establish the following:

i)

whether BTCV Scotland volunteers enjoy their experience and have their expectations been met

ii)

whether BTCV Scotland Volunteers use knowledge they obtain from volunteering

iii)

whether BTCV Scotland has raised volunteers awareness and attitude to the environment through volunteering

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iv)

to what extent volunteering enriched the life experiences and personal development of volunteers.

The senior staff in Scotland on the other hand, were keen to know whether their programme of activities was achieving the overall outcomes, the quality of the relationships between volunteers and the organisation, whether the programme delivered value for money and how to improve the programme.

In attempting to encapsulate both sets of expectations, the original draft questionnaire, drafted by Evaluation Support Scotland, was circulated to the original working group and BTCV Scotland managers, for feedback. The final version of the questionnaire used during interviews appears in Appendix (i). It reflects the amendments made to the original one drafted by Evaluation Scotland (2006).

2.4.2

Quantitative Data

Quantitative information came mainly from BTCVs Management Information System and from analysis of the frequency of certain types of responses in the questionnaire. To reflect the lead-in time required to develop projects through Greenspaces and since many of the projects were ongoing, numerical data was gathered right up to the conclusion of the field work and the period covered by the evaluation is 1 September 2006 31 July 2007.

2.5

Sampling

A non-probability sampling technique20 (i.e. Purposive Sampling) was used for selecting key informants as it was felt to be the most appropriate type of sampling for this evaluation. Quoting Denzin and Lincoln 1994, Silverman concurs that

many qualitative researchers employ. purposive, and not random,


20

This is a popular method of sampling used frequently in qualitative evaluation as the purpose of the evaluation is not to generalize but to seek the opinion of those involved in the programme (Silverman, 2000) 32

sampling methods. They seek out groups, settings and individuals wherethe process being studies are most likely to occur (2000: 104) The approach to sampling was based on practical decisions around cost, time and the type of information required. In doing so care was taken to ensure validity by making certain that the method was theoretically grounded. So even though the sampling method it is not statistically underpinned, it is nevertheless an acceptable sampling method for qualitative evaluations as the sample is not based on personal choice.

2.6

Analysis

Analysis of data from all the noted sources were classified, thematically ordered and analysed using qualitative approaches. Drawing from desk-based studies, testimonies and graphics from respondents, textual analysis and content analysis were conducted. Key data were assessed within the context of the aims of the programme and where relevant, case studies and direct quotations are used to highlight major patterns in relation to the first three objectives, which in effect, relate to the competence of BTCV as a programme deliverer and its relationship with stakeholders and volunteers. With regard to the latter, particular attention is paid to the impact of the programme on individuals lives and to their communities. A theoretical and policy framework was constructed to situate the Greenspaces programme within current discourse and to assess its progress in line with current developments in environmental work within Scotland.

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SECTION THREE: THE FINDINGS

PART ONE: PROJECTS WITHIN GREENSPACES REGENERATION: IMPACT ON PLACES

Everyone has a sense of place - somewhere they feel attached to and care for. For almost 50 years BTCV has worked with people and communities to protect and improve the places they value-their street, neighbourhood, or wider locality, including the green spaces and wild corners which flourish even in the densest urban setting Hampton, R in Burns (2007: iii)

The Director, BTCV Scotland (ibid) sums up the underlying principles underpinning

34

the projects described in this section. While the introduction provides a brief insight into the work of BTCV Scotland, regarding its vision and mission, this section describes the nature of the projects that comprise the Greenspaces Regeneration Programme.

In their most recent publication (Burns, 2007), the core of BTCV Scotlands community activities and services is listed and explained. They list a range of community activities that involving volunteers that are very young (under 10 years) right up to those that are retired from formal work, it includes the able bodied and disabled and people from diverse national and ethnic backgrounds. The activities are primarily aimed at improving community spaces across Scotland and include the following:

LIST BOX 2: BTCV SCOTLAND GREEN ACTIVITIES i) ii) iii) iv) v) Turning sections of grass land (Aberdeen) into attractive green spaces, Allotment developments (Glasgow and Coatbridge) Village regeneration (East Ayrshire) Park repairs (Blackness) Woodland and Wetland development (Creetown; Drumchapel, Angus, Alva Glen, North East Dundee) vi) vii) viii) ix) x) xi) Community and individual Garden improvement (North Ayrshire, Stirling) Landscaping in Stoneyburn; Environmental improvement (South Queensferry) Action breaks (Shetland); neighbourhood cleanups and Creating wildlife habitats, environmental art (National Youth project). Green Gym

A central plank of the organisations work is the Green Gym project, the demand for which is increasing right across Britain. This project combines formal health exercises with environmental improvement activity. Recently, in a report prepared for South Ayrshire Council (who part funded BTCV Scotland work in South Ayrshire), BTCV

35

Scotland note that:

by far and wide, Green Gym has received the most interest and at present there is the potential for three stand alone projects across South Ayrshire BTCV (2007: 9) It is therefore not surprising that BTCV Scotland chose to develop projects such as the Green Gym to create the Greenspaces Programme. In essence, the Greenspaces programme seeks to achieve its outcomes by introducing the following new initiatives built on existing successful projects (LIST BOX 2, above) across Scotland.

3.1 .1 Building on the Green Gym

The Green Gym is a concept devised by BTCV, which has the intellectual property rights over. It can be defined as a voluntary sector health intervention initiative (Burns, 2007) and combines environmental or horticultural activity with warm up and cool down exercises in a formal way. The benefits of open-air exercise are well documented (Burns, 2007) and staff use the term biophilia to describe the greater sense of well-being to be derived from that type of exercise. Volunteers are given a brief health check using a questionnaire, at the outset of their participation and may be referred to their General Practitioners to confirm suitability for this type of exercise, should it be deemed necessary.

BTCV Scotlands self-collected statistics show that the Green Gym Project attracts individuals who are new to volunteering. 80% of people in Green Gym have not done any previous environmental volunteering. The retention rate is high, with upward of 80% seeing the programme through to completion (BTCV, MIS21). In delivering this project, BTCV works closely with those with medical interests, including, local GP surgeries, health centres and charities such as the British Heart Foundation.

Green Gym activity had been established on around 16 sites in Scotland before the
21

Management Information System 36

Greenspaces Regeneration Programme was initiated. The programme allowed for the expansion to twenty-three sites, and also allowed for the development of a model short course, a twelve-week intervention that demonstrates how Green Gym works and what it can achieve.

BTCV describe Green Gym as a project, which is about healthy people and healthy places. They argue that traditional gyms and sports centres do not appeal to everyone, so Green Gym offers an alternative outdoor gym. Run in partnership with the health service, BTCV Green Gyms follow quality standards that ensure safety and have proven health benefits (www.btcv.org)

In Green Gym, people meet once a week to improve local green spaces by doing physical activities such as tree planting. Formal warm up and cool down exercises are part of the activity.

The new developments to this existing project were as follows:

i) ii) iii) iv)

Development of a Green Gym Short Programme at Linwood in Renfrewshire Establishment of a Green Gym in Dumfries and Galloway Establishment of a Green Gym for Inverness city A pilot Green Gym in six schools

3.1.2

Greenspaces Regeneration Aberdeen

This project involved the planning and construction of a green space within a site owned by Aberdeen city to function as a green gym. Unfortunately, a problem over ownership and future use of the land occurred during the public consultation stage and the project had to be stopped. Nevertheless, the Green Gym project is being delivered elsewhere in Aberdeen involving a number of volunteers who had already been recruited for this project.

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3.1.3

Building on Conservation Holidays: Healthy Holidays A New Model of Healthy

This project provides an alternative to an already existing project called BTCV Conservation Holidays. BTCV organises around 250 conservation holidays per year throughout the UK. The activity includes tree planting, step and stile building, restoration of drystane dykes, hedging and pond digging to name a few. BTCV advertise this project as one that:

our visitors leave a lasting legacy in places they visit - habitats protected, natural heritage restored and positive relations built between towns and country dwellers BTCV Conservation Breaks: www.btcv.org

Conservation Holidays are fairly demanding projects which involve volunteers working on a site over a set period of weeks to accomplish significant regeneration activities as described above. Greenspaces programme funding was to be used to develop a model for a shorter break, which would permit volunteers to carry out a satisfying piece of work in the open air but with the added value of a residential stay.

A residential weekend break was arranged to include the social aspects of volunteering. BTCV targeted disadvantaged people, many of whom had not been able to afford a short to break from home or to fully appreciate and enjoy non-urban environments. By providing opportunities to volunteer away from home, this project not only enabled them to visit a new place of cultural interest but also provided the opportunity to participate in green gym activities on site while participating in a regeneration activity.

The break, which is free of charge, includes structured urban and rural walks, a regeneration activity, food and accommodation. This project therefore combined the concept of Conservation holidays with that of Green Gym to create Healthy Breaks for potential volunteers within disadvantaged groups.

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3.1.4

Stirling Peace of Mind Garden

Based on the concept of the community garden, Greenspaces funding was allocated to develop plans for a garden area within Kings Park in Stirling. The Garden was developed in response to discussions between the Stirling Users Network and other mental health organisations. The Peace of Mind Garden is developed around the notion that people love gardens for all sorts of reasons: their colours, aromas, shapes and patterns, and for their ability to instill a sense of calm and wellbeing Burns: (2007: 40) The Peace of Mind Garden, BTCV Scotland claims, provides a focal place for people with mental health problem to relax while the garden itself improves biodiversity, through the planting of species of wildflowers that attract birds, bugs and beasties. Involving volunteers with mental health problems, BTCV, Scotland undertook to prepare the ground, construct the pathway and pergola and plant wildflowers.

3.1.5

Building on Environments for all: A Residential Induction Session for New Arrivals in Glasgow

This initiative was also developed from the ideas of an earlier successful project, Environments for All. That project was originally launched on evidence to show that black and minority ethnic communities were generally under-represented in environmental activities and volunteering. Launched in Glasgow, the project aimed at encouraging people from marginalised communities to become involved with the activities of BTCV Scotland which includes food growing, garden make-overs, arts and crafts, tree planting and neighbourhood clean-ups. In order to reach a wider audience, this project worked in partnership with other agencies including, the Scottish Refugee Council, British Red Cross, Muslim network and Youth Counseling Service in Glasgow.

39

The Environments for All project encouraged members of minority ethnic communities to explore the physical and psychological space around them. Building on this programme, the residential project was developed by targeting a different group of people who rarely engage in environmental volunteering. The residential induction sought to provide similar opportunities for new arrivals in Scotland asylum seekers and refugees and to introduce them to rural environments.

3.1.6

A Youth Inclusion Project in Peripheral Estates in Edinburgh

Greenspaces funding was used to fund a new post of Youth and Community Worker and the post-holder set up environmental volunteering schemes for young people in four disadvantaged estates in Edinburgh. The first scheme was developed in the Westburn Woodland area in Wester Hailes, with subsequent projects following in Granton, Pilton and Drylaw.

It was intended that these schemes would enable local people to gain a better understanding of the public space on their doorstep and adopt the space for purposeful use. It was also intended that young people from an urban environment would be given the opportunity to learn about nature and biodiversity by participating in these schemes. Young people are involved from the outset in the projects, helping to design improvements to local space and determine its use.

In delivering the above projects, BTCV Scotland planned to involve existing staff to maximise expertise and provide opportunities for continuous professional development. At the same time, BTCV Scotland set out to develop latent potential in sites which had not been fully exploited for their volunteer potential due to limited resources. Additional staff was recruited only in areas (Edinburgh and Renfrewshire) where additional skills were required.

It is worth noting that new initiatives described above were all delivered within the planned time span of the Greenspaces programme with the exception of the Aberdeen regeneration project as explained above.

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3.1.7

Environmental Outputs

These initiatives produced regeneration activity on 65 sites across Scotland. A total of 291 people volunteered during the life of the Greenspaces programme to deliver a total of 4518 volunteer days, the unit in which BTCV Scotland computes its volunteer activity.

Although the number of volunteers taking part in the programme is short of the target of 2000 at 291, the average number of days spent by volunteers on the programme far exceeded the anticipated 3. It was in fact just over 15.5 days per volunteer indicating that commitment to and involvement with the projects was far higher than anticipated. Thus the volunteers between them delivered 4518 volunteer days, short of the target of 6000 but not proportionately so and far higher than would have been expected from a volunteer base of less than 300. The total number of volunteer days for all of BTCV programmes during this period was 8589.

Greenspaces aimed to deliver substantial regenerative work on public spaces. The 65 sites on which the initiative delivered work benefited from a range of types of activity from path clearing to the pruning of invasive species, removing weeds from a football pitch to building raised beds in a school playground.

It is useful to note that the actual extent of the regeneration activity in terms of physical improvement has not been monitored and cannot therefore be quantified in this evaluation. Nevertheless, in delivering Greenspaces, BTCV Scotland initiated a number of new partnerships and cemented previous relationships. In all areas the local office engaged with the local Community Planning Partnership. These partnerships will be discussed later in this report, but it is fair to say that the relationship with partner agencies whether clients for whom work is being carried out, or referral agencies that place volunteers with BTCV Scotland is excellent.

All of stakeholders who were interviewed said they would certainly continue to work with BTCV and all praised their attitude towards volunteers and their understanding of volunteers needs. Those for whom work had been carried out were equally warm

41

in their praise. Although BTCV staff are very aware that work carried out by volunteers cannot be made subject to the timetables and work output requirements that would be appropriate with a commercial contractor, none of the stakeholders interviewed said they would choose a commercial contractor over BTCV volunteers for the work that volunteers were carrying out.

PART TWO: EFFECTIVENESS OF BTCV SCOTLAND AS A PARTNER AND PROGRAMME DELIVERER

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, its the only thing that ever has Margaret Mead, Social Anthropologist, in Burns, 2007: 1

Judgement on the strengths and weaknesses of programmes is influenced by a number of factors, not least that these judgements are often based on the opinion of others, many of whom have some stake in the programme either as funder, deliverer or beneficiary. Moreover, as Weiss (2003) notes, there is now greater pressure for results. Funded agencies are scrutinised more closely to ensure efficient spending of resources and evidence of outcomes.

This part of the discussion on findings focuses on the effectiveness of BTCV in delivering the Greenspaces programme, its relationships with stakeholders and communities of interest and the impact of its work on individuals and communities. (Objectives 1, 2 and 4).

3.2.1

Effectiveness of BTCV as Programme Deliverer

In assessing programme implementation, the evaluators considered the efficiency of BTCV Scotland as a delivery agent by considering the initial challenges faced by the organisation in starting up Greenspaces work. The evaluators attempted to assess how likely it might be to sustain the programme beyond the initial involvement of BTCV Scotland. In addition, the evaluators also sought to calculate the potential financial value of the work carried out by volunteers in projects within Greenspaces 42

as well as the additional benefits and leverage, if any, created by BTCV Scotland. Finally, with regard to this aspect we looked at additional partnerships and interagency activities that were created in the process of programme implementation. The latter included an assessment of the nature of relationships between BTCV, volunteers and staff involved in Greenspaces.

3.2.1.2 The Challenges Involved in Setting up Greenspaces Projects

Interviews with BTCV Scotland Managers and Project Officers provided information about the challenges in setting up the Greenspaces projects. Despite the major challenges involved in setting up projects these were not uppermost in the minds of those who were interviewed. In all cases staff displayed enthusiasm about the projects and their outcomes. Sites on which to carry out work seem to be readily available, there apprears to be no shortage in any part of Scotland of work to be done, and with the exception of one category of volunteers, no shortage of people wanting to volunteer for outdoor, environmental work. Indeed, two of those interviewed stated that the demand for environmental volunteering work greatly outstripped BTCV Scotlands capacity to provide it. This is interesting given that the Scottish Household Survey (2003) claims that only about a quarter of Scottish people (23-27% since 2000) engaged in recent volunteering activities. The high demand for environmental volunteering noted by BTCV Scotland is therefore something that ought to be encouraged and supported.

In this respect, BTCV Staff felt that securing funding for management costs within the Greenspaces programme was a major challenge. Staff reported that project funders were willing to fund volunteering activity itself, training, protective clothing and equipment, but less interested in funding the management costs of running the programme or projects. Given that BTCV Scotland does not receive any core funding, is clearly a factor that requires attention. This aspect has been noted elsewhere. Dalgleish (2006) concurs that the capacity of environmental volunteer organisations to manage volunteers is limited due to environmental managers themselves not being fully supported and appreciated.

Pointing the finger at government, Dalgleish claims that there is no shortage of

43

people willing to take on the role of Volunteer Manager (a manager who is still a volunteer but who takes on responsibility for managing a team of volunteers) within organisations such as BTCV Scotland. However the development of the necessary skill set is currently limited due to lack of focus on environmental volunteering on the part of government. Dalgleish (ibid) also implies that with clear leadership from government, and funding for management and training and infrastructure, the latent potential identified here might be unleashed.

The issue of funding in BTCV Scotland appeared to be uppermost in the minds of many who mentioned this as a major challenge in delivering the programme more widely. In particular, staff frequently noted the difficulties involved in delivering projects on tight budgets and noted that they were forced to fund projects using a cocktail approach which involves meeting the requirements of different funders within a single project.

This concern is reflected in a number of comments on the lack of required resources, mainly in relation to the untapped potential within the Green Gym project. A staff member delivering Green Gym activity went to great lengths to describe the nature of difficulties. It transpired in this case, that the staff member had to make a three-anda-half hour journey in each direction to spend one hour running the gym since there were no other staff available.

In addition, several staff commented on the way in which the lack of transport restricted an ability to absorb new volunteers. Since many sites are in rural areas, it is often necessary to transport volunteers to the site. License restrictions on driving larger vehicles means that BTCV Scotland uses minibuses which will carry nine people but as usually only one member of staff is deployed to run the project, the number of vehicles available restricts the number of volunteers that can be involved in any one project. BTCV Scotland is of the opinion that the availability of more transport would expand the size of projects to include more volunteers.

Other challenges reported include the need (in the Highlands and Islands) to widen the client base so that different types of sites with a greater diversity of activities could be provided for volunteers. In this regard, staff felt that the involvement of more

44

local landowners could be a possible solution to this problem. Difficulties in obtaining land for regeneration work was frequently commented upon as a barrier, given the complexity involved in landownership. Often useful work, for example in Aberdeen, has to be stalled or even cancelled due to the difficult negotiations around access to land.

In addition, staff also felt that clients sometimes baulked at the idea of providing materials for the project or funding the provision of materials despite buy-in to the project and the willingness to use volunteers. This was sometimes a disincentive to pursuing the opportunity.

A further challenge identified by one project worker was the need for a wide range of skills on any one project, from the ability to build a nesting box to the planning and design skills for constructing a garden area. This could, in part, be solved by having more staffing resources dedicated to each project thereby bringing a relevant mix of skills to the project. In terms of volunteer skills, this skill mix is a mixed blessing. One project, for example, had in its volunteer team a former plumber, a painter and decorator and several people who had never even hit a nail. The member of staff in this case felt challenged in managing that range of abilities within the team of volunteers.

A specific challenge faced by the team working with the inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers is the difficulty in attracting refugees to the projects. Whilst asylum seekers were keen to volunteer and welcome the opportunity to meet new people and to make a return to their host communities during a period when they were not able to work (while seeking asylum), it appears that once refugee status is achieved people are less keen to volunteer. This would suggest that this group of volunteers understandably view volunteering more as a first step to work rather than necessarily for altruistic reasons.

Nevertheless, this becomes problematic where the funding for the project is directed at refugees rather than asylum seekers, and staff involved in this work welcomed the approach taken by funders such as the BIG Lottery Fund, which do not discriminate between asylum seekers and refugees in projects and provide volunteer activity as a

45

route to inclusion.

Certain staff members reported personal challenges in learning to deal with people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, a challenge which they found rewarding to meet. Of the projects surveyed, the one that seemed to face fewest challenges was the North Edinburgh Community Greenspaces initiative that targeted marginalised young people in the 14-25 age group.

It would appear that this was the case because the right level of funding was in place. This allowed ample start-up and development time during which a youth development officer was recruited and potential inner city sites identified. In this case the Greenspaces activity has been developed in conjunction with youth agencies and youth workers in the designated areas meaning that investment by BTCV in recruiting volunteers has been efficient and that support for young volunteers is already in place. Likewise, the public involvement phase in determining what use to make of local sites was made equally by close working links of this kind.

3.2.1.3

The Financial Value of Work Carried out Through Greenspaces Programme

Given its underlying principles and ethos, BTCV Scotland chooses not to measure project and programme outcomes in financial terms. Nevertheless, the evaluators believe that it is important to note the commercial value of a days volunteering. This is generally set at approximately 60 per day (SCVO rate). On that basis it can easily be calculated that the value of labour provided in the course of the Greenspaces programme was 271, 080 (4518 volunteer days X 60)22. Theses figure are simple calculations made by the evaluators given that BTCV Scotland does not have a formula or system for measuring the commercial value of their work which factors in the value of the regeneration work carried out.

22

These figures relate only to Greenspaces, during this time environmental volunteering in other projects not included in Greenspaces was ongoing

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When asked why this was the case, staff stated that since BTCV does not compete for business in the market place on the basis of value for money, it therefore does not calculate the commercial value of what it does. Instead, staff measure real value of Greenspaces work in terms of the qualitative, personal development outcomes for the volunteers and impact on environment. In the case of Greenspaces, BTCV Scotland will measure success in terms of the lifestyle improvement, skill development, environmental awareness and positive changes in communities and Greenspaces.

A majority of staff interviewed therefore felt they would not know how to calculate the commercial value of the work undertaken. In this respect, one member of staff remarked that it would be relatively easy to quantify the actual physical outputs of the different projects: for example, the number of pathways built, the number of trees planted, the acreage of forest land which is maintained. In practice, this information although recorded is only considered in the context of benefits to people and physical environment. In effect, the evaluators found that although the Management Information System of BTCV does record the sites and the nature of the work done for each day of activity, this is not translated into commercial terms.

In view of the vast amount of environmental work carried out by BTCV volunteers, it may be that to overlook the financial value of their outcomes is to overlook an important element in the value of BTCV Scotland programmes to clients, government departments and to those developing policy frameworks. This is not to suggest that BTCV schemes should ever been seen as free labour to deliver environmental improvements. Nor is it to suggest that environmental outcomes take precedence over the personal development goals, which are at the heart of BTCVs volunteering programmes. However, it might offer a significant added value, not least in funding bids, to state the scale and value of the environmental work undertaken.

Some pioneering work has already been done in quantifying the economic benefits of green space development. The report Does Money Grow on Trees produced for CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) looks at options for measuring changes, which arise from improving local green spaces. The report recognizes that these beneficial changes may not be solely monetary ones, but can include health benefits and behavioural changes to which a financial value can be

47

ascribed. There may be some merit in BTCV Scotland exploring some of the ideas contained in this report.

3.2.1.4

Leverage and Match Funding

In terms of leverage or match funding, the programme has had significant success with Green Gym proving popular and attracting a greater proportion of sponsorship opportunities for local enterprises. The Green Gym activity in Renfrewshire, for example, has attracted funding from a commercial source. The Braehead Shopping Centre (through its parent company, Capital Shopping Centres) together with Xscape, (through X-leisure Capital and Regional) has committed 70,000 to BTCV Scotland to support and expand the Green Gym network throughout Renfrewshire. The funding will be provided over three years and will enable BTCV Scotland to reach its target of more than 30 Green Gym projects in the Renfrewshire area and will pay for a staff ratio of one co-coordinator to three or four gyms.

Similarly, funding has also been secured from Falkirk Environment Trust over three years to develop the wild flower nursery at Grangemouth, which is also the site of the Green Gym. This site is owned by a local petrochemical company and is leased by BTCV Scotland. The latter agreed to maintain the facility and runs it as a commercial enterprise providing wild flowers to landscape architects, schools and to the public. The nursery has a unique selling point for landscape architects in that it can supply locally grown indigenous plants rather than imported species. Incorporating Green Gym into a commercial planting scheme is indeed a unique feature of this project.

Managers believe that one of the key benefits of the funding provided by the Scottish Executive for Greenspaces, is that it allowed for a development phase in Green Gym activity. Prior to the injection of Scottish Executive funding, Green Gym numbers had been static at around 16 across Scotland. The funding immediately increased the number of Green Gyms to 23 with many more in the pipeline. This injection of funds allowed managers to introduce new activities, develop a new, short course of activity, recruit volunteers from specific target groups (youth, refugees and immigrants, those with mental health problems) and to implement the Green Gym activity in different locations. It also allowed for the model to be thoroughly tested and its success to be

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demonstrated, providing potential future funders with a replicable model. Further funding for local Green Gym projects is being sought on the basis of the model, for example from local housing associations.

3.2.1.5 Inter-agency and Partnership Activity

Inter-agency and partnership work is an integral part of the BTCV Scotland approach. Those interviewed distinguished two groups of partners or stakeholders: the organisations that refer volunteers to the projects and the client organisations that provide the sites for volunteers to work on.

The Greenspaces programme built on and cemented existing relationships but also encouraged the development of new ones. Volunteer groups are key partners in delivering activities and, in some places Councils for Voluntary Service are actively involved.

In particular, the expansion of Green Gym activity with its emphasis on improving mental and physical health has led to closer working with NHS departments. For example, health services in North Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire often refer patients to Green Gym and similarly, specialist voluntary sector organisations such as the National Schizophrenia Society refer clients who could benefit from the projects. Local referral agencies such as Kaleidoscope, which provides outreach services for the Crichton Hospital in Dumfries, are also active partners in referring volunteers with mental health problems to BTCV Scotland. Similarly, the development of the Peace of Mind Garden in Stirling was developed through active co-operation with the Stirling Users Network, a support network for people with mental health issues. This project also benefited from building a good working relationship with the British Heart Foundation. Elsewhere in Green Gym, BTCV Scotland staff involved doctors surgeries and health centres in recruiting volunteers to participate in Green Gym activity.

Indeed, this close co-operation with health services and health referral agencies has meant that BTCV Scotland has developed particularly good links in this field and

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makes a positive contribution to the development of volunteering in the field of health. Several of those interviewed claimed that BTCV Scotland had better links with health bodies than many other volunteer agencies and several stakeholders who were interviewed supported this claim indicating that BTCV had an extremely good understanding of the needs of this type of volunteer.

The evaluators conclude that BTCV Scotlands input as a partner in improving mental and physical health demonstrates that the voluntary sector can show leadership in improving health in Scotland an ambition reflected in the White Paper, Partnership for Care: Scotlands Health White Paper, 2003 (www.scotland.gov.uk/publications).

Councils for Voluntary Services and local Volunteer Centres recognise BTCV Scotland as a valuable source of opportunities for placement and expressed a keenness to continue to work alongside them in the future. BTCV Scotland also has regular contact with the Community Planning Partnerships across Scotland and in many areas is funded by, or works directly with, different council departments, especially the environment and planning ones.

The range of client relationships in the environmental field is equally impressive in that BTCV Scotland regularly undertakes work for major environmental agencies in Scotland. In addition to local authorities, clients include the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, the Forestry Commission, Loch Lomond National Parks Authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Natural Heritage. Similarly, a number of community owned woodland and forest trusts regularly invite BTCV to deliver volunteer activity on their sites.

3.2.1.6 Profile of Volunteers Involved in Greenspaces

The effectiveness of an agency as a programme deliverer is not only determined by its ability to identify objectives for the programme and design project work that will fulfill those objectives, but also by its ability to attract a diverse range of volunteers who will benefit equally from the programme. To assess whether BTCV Scotland was able to effectively stimulate volunteering in local environments and its capacity to

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influence regeneration through volunteering by creating opportunities for urban groups to experience Scotlands natural heritage, the evaluators considered the profile of volunteers attracted to Greenspaces. While different local environments attracted different types of people, the overall broad representation of volunteers by sex, social class, disability and ethnicity is interesting and worth commenting on.

It is clear from the General Management Information System that Greenspaces is targeting and attracting volunteers from a range of diverse background and localities giving urban volunteers, in particular, access to rural environments in Scotland. The latter is significant, especially given the evidence that disadvantaged communities in urban areas (low income, disabled, and minority ethnic people) are less likely to access the countryside:

For many this is a rare and welcome opportunity to escape the city and appreciate Scotlands natural beauty. These activities can vary from a day trip to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond to a five days residential to the highlands. However these are not just passive outings simply to admire the scenery but are activity based, form hill walking programmes to practical conservation work, chances to fully experience and make a positive contribution towards Scotlands natural heritage. Burns (2007: 77)

Greenspaces statistics reveal diversity amongst the volunteers and successful inclusion. Of all volunteers registered for the period September 1, 2006 July 31, 2007, 11.2% described themselves as having a disability. This pattern is similar to that identified by the Scottish Household Survey in 2003 (13% of those who were permanently sick and disabled had volunteered). In terms of gender 62.1% were male and, 37.9% female. This is an interesting finding given the pattern with regard to

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the gender of volunteers which is reflected in the Scottish Household Survey. In terms of volunteering in general, this study noted a relatively modest difference in terms of gender (25% female; 22% male: source Scottish Household Survey, 2003).

Despite targeting both male and female volunteers equally, BTCV Scotland appears more successful in attracting a significantly higher number of male volunteers than female in their Greenspaces programme. While one simple explanation here could be the appeal of the nature of volunteering opportunities on offer, the evaluators believe that this is an interesting pattern that warrants further investigation as it might point to a clearer understanding of what motivates volunteers.

With respect to ethnicity, 10.8% indicated that they were from black and minority ethnic communities. Again the latter is especially significant given that the 2001 census found that the black and minority ethnic community in Scotland is relatively small (2%) compared to that of the UK (approximately 10%). This higher representation of minority ethnic people in environmental volunteering activities is interesting, especially given evidence elsewhere that this group is traditionally not attracted to volunteering (Research done by organizations such as BEN-Black Environmental Network).

Here again, it might be possible that this positive pattern is due to the approach taken by BTCV Scotland. In addition to taking a mainstreaming approach to diversity, an approach prompted by research it also took steps to address under-representation by developing specific projects to attract those likely to face barriers to volunteering. For example, the Peace of Mind Garden, although working with a cross-section of volunteers, is tailored to attract those with mental health problems. Similarly, Environments for All (the Induction of refugees and Asylum Seekers) is a response to the increasing number of Refugees and Asylum Seekers being settled in Glasgow more recently and studies (Hampton 2003, Refugee Council, 2003) that indicated that certain ethnic communities feel excluded from aspects of society, including the environment. In this respect, BTCV Scotland claims that

This is particularly true of the black and minority communities who are generally under-represented in environmental activities and the personal

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benefits which can be gained by those involved. BTCV Scotland has been working to break down these barriers, particularly in Glasgow with its rich cultural mix Burns (2007: 76)

The percentage of Greenspaces volunteers coming from the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland was high at 25.1%. If we look at the 20% most deprived areas, this figures goes up to 30.7%. This is encouraging to note especially in light of the Scottish Household Survey (2003) which found that respondents with incomes of less than 15,000 a year were two and a half times less likely to have volunteered than those with an income more than 40,000. And while the Scottish Household Study (2003) found that those unemployed or seeking work are less likely to volunteer (12%), the pattern noted in Greenspaces is more positive. Nevertheless, only 9.5% of the directly managed sites on which volunteers were working belonged to the top 15% most deprived areas, but by working in rural areas as well as urban, BTCV Scotland was able to fulfill its objective to provide a rural experience for people from urban environments.

3.2.1.7 The Views of Stakeholders on the Delivery of Greenspaces

Clearly, clients who provide land or space for regeneration, and the agencies that refer volunteers, have an interest in the successful delivery of the programme. The stakeholders views on relationships with BTCV Scotland and the benefits of Greenspaces are important to consider in this evaluation. With this in mind the discussion that follows draws on the interviews that were conducted with a selection of stakeholders. Green Gym. In this regard, the sample included site providers and referral agencies and one commercial interest, which had provided follow-on finance for a

Site Providers

The site providers interviewed had all provided sites for Green Gym activity. The work

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carried out on the sites included fence removal, clearing of gorse from woodlands and land clearance in preparation for laying access paths to enhance access to woodland areas. None of the site providers had any negative comments to make about their working relationship with BTCV and instead identified some important benefits from their involvement with BTCV Scotland as reflected in the following case studies.

CASE STUDY ONE: SITE PROVIDER ONE Site Provider One saw working with BTCV Scotland being beneficial as a means of getting the physical job done but equally important, by engaging with BTCV Scotland, Site Provider One felt that it was fulfilling its mission to be as inclusive as possible in the management of its community woodland. Since BTCV Scotland is able to provide volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds, Site Provider One was able to meet its own objectives in terms of providing equal opportunities for those seeking personal development goals through environmental work. Site Provider One plans to develop the community woodland as a social enterprise and community benefit is a strong driver in its work. In this case BTCV Scotland represented the community, facilitating community involvement through its volunteer network.

CASE STUDY 2: SITE PROVIDER TWO Site Provider Two claimed that by bringing volunteer effort to the regeneration of green spaces, BTCV Scotland enabled many local community groups to complete initiatives that they were previously unable to. Site Provider Two is a statutory department within a local authority area and is charged with a green development remit. Site Provider Two indicated that as a result of BTCV Scotlands work on the authoritys Greenspaces, it intends to build BTCV Scotlands volunteer programmes into its environmental development plan for the next two years. Site Provider Two welcomed BTCV Scotland as a strategic partner.

Agencies Referring Volunteers with Special Requirements

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Other stakeholders interviewed were referral agencies, two of which aimed to match general volunteering enquiries to volunteering opportunities, and three of which specialised in finding volunteering opportunities for people with special needs or who required support in volunteering.

CASE STUDY 3: SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: AGENCY ONE Agency One had referred ten people to a local Green Gym in the previous twelve months. All of the volunteers had varying forms of learning difficulties and felt unable to participate in certain types of volunteer activity generally available to the wider community. Agency One described BTCV Scotlands Green Gym as the first project, in its experience, to be very, very inclusivewhere members of the public and service users were treated equally.

An important benefit reported by Agency One was that the service users established genuine friendships through Green Gym activities and that exposure to other people in this safe environment was invaluable. According to Agency One, service users tend only to make friends within their own immediate circle. Since taking part in Greenspaces the behaviour of the volunteers had changed. An example offered was the behavioural change displayed by volunteer Jim who suffers from autism and is usually extremely introverted. Whilst volunteering in the Green Gym, Jim learned to recognize people and started referring to them by name, becoming more communicative and more confident in his day-to-day actions. Agency One also reported improved health and weight loss as side benefits of the Green Gym experience and said they would certainly continue to refer people to BTCV Scotland.

CASE STUDY 4: SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS AGENCY TWO Agency Two places people with disabilities in volunteering opportunities. It referred four people to the local Green Gym and had a long list of others that it would refer 55

to BTCV Scotland if more Green Gyms existed. Agency two indicated that it used the Green Gym as a placement opportunity because of BTCV Scotlands accessibility, awareness and understanding of the needs of volunteers. Agency Two believes that volunteering with BTCV encourages the development of personal skills and enables people to take the next step towards a work placement. Agency Two believes that BTCV Scotland promotes independence, which for disability organisations is an important ethos. Agency two stated that two of the most recent volunteers have developed significantly in terms of self-confidence and have begun looking for employment whilst a third has found a job and is now working.

Other Referral Agencies

In addition to people with disabilities, some of the volunteers referred to BTCV by agencies include those that suffer from additions and substance abuse, as reflected in CASE STUDY FIVE below:

CASE STUDY FIVE: AGENCY THREE Agency Three provides support for people who have had treatment for drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. Agency Three referred seven people to the Green Gym and have a further four or five people to introduce to the Green Gym as soon as places are available. Agency Three believes that their volunteers would find placements in an office or warehouse less attractive and less appropriate since particular skills or a certain level of skill might be demanded and the work might be routine and repetitive. For these volunteers, Green Gym provides a challenge and a changing activity every week whilst accommodating the range of skills and abilities within their volunteers. Agency Three reports significant development in its volunteers. It notes that one volunteer who started in the project doing very basic gardening on a voluntary basis felt confident enough to apply for a job in his local garden centre and has managed to hold down the job. A second recovering addict has now gone to college to study and is hoping to work with the Forestry Commission. Agency Three indicated that it would certainly continue to use

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BTCV Scotland for placements. Agency Three nevertheless commented on the problems with the provision of transport. Agency Three felt that it could refer more people but was not able to do so due to transport limitations. BTCV Scotland can only provide a limited number of transport places and therefore the numbers attending the Green Gym are restricted. Agency Three also suggested that volunteers would benefit from a pre-training session when they first arrive on site, rather than immediately beginning work where some of the tasks might have safety risks attached.

The two non-specialist volunteer agencies interviewed shared a common view on BTCV Scotland and the opportunities it provides. They believe that BTCV Scotland is one of very few agencies that can provide volunteer opportunities out of doors and in the area of conservation, and that there is high demand for these opportunities. Both agencies refer people with a range of abilities and some with extra support needs and praised BTCV Scotlands inclusive approach, stating that the organisation is openly welcoming of different types of people and that there is a supportive and friendly environment. Both claimed that BTCV Scotland is valuable to them in that it provides an immediate source of volunteering opportunities, there is always work to be done and in that it can accommodate a range of skills and none, as well as a range of volunteer commitment. The work of BTCV Scotland is highly regarded and agency feedback indicates a keenness to continue a working relationship with BTCV Scotland.

Moreover, a partner that sponsors the work of BTCV Scotland indicated it does so because BTCV Scotlands work in Greenspaces delivers community involvement on their behalf and because Green Gym activity has inspired people to improve not only their health but their local environment at the same time. As a local business this sponsor is conscious of the negative impact its business activity has on the environment and feels BTCV helps it to compensate for this with environmental repair.

From the evidence presented it is clear that those who collaborate with Greenspaces view their relationship as positive and beneficial both for themselves as agencies as well as for their beneficiaries. It is also apparent that if BTCV Scotland had the resources to develop the programme further there are people waiting to come 57

forward as volunteers to make use of the additional opportunities offered.

All the data suggests that BTCV Scotland is perceived to be effective in its programme delivery. And despite the many challenges faced initially in getting the programme up and running, BTCV Scotland has designed and implemented a programme efficiently within a tight timetable to the satisfaction of its stakeholders who have fully bought in to the programme. The organization has demonstrated its ability to work effectively with partners and to lever funding for the development of the programme. It is now seeking to develop a systematic framework for future monitoring of work in Scotland and a strategic framework for impact assessment based on the findings of this evaluation.

PART 3: IMPACT ON INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES

The extent to which these outcomes have been achieved is discussed below. Evidence relating to the above is drawn from questionnaires returned by volunteers and focuses on the impact of the programme on individuals and communities.

3.3.1

The Impact of Greenspaces on Individuals Involved in the Programme.

The researchers looked at the impact of the programme in relation to certain key benefits for the volunteers: personal development and learning and skills development, improvement in their environmental awareness and environmental behaviour, their integration and employability, and improvement to health and wellbeing.

The vast majority of those taking part in the evaluation agreed or strongly agreed that they had benefited from the experience (94.5% overall). All but one participant felt they had got some exercise with volunteers being unanimous in their view that they had done something worthwhile for the environment. In this respect, comments such

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as the following were commonplace:

I feel that Ive helped the environment my clearing up and tidying, so that people can feel happier when they are out walking.

Moreover, a number of volunteers commented on how the projects they were involved in had influenced their personal attitudes towards the environment and environmental conservation. The comments that follow reflect the nature of comments made in this respect:

I dont throw the rubbish straight to the floor. I always bin it (now).

Volunteering with BTCV has given me a knowledge and understanding of our environment and the confidence to carry this on to new projects. I have a great sense of achievement at the end of the day.

I think more about the environmental impact of my everyday actions.

Indeed, a substantial majority (69%) of the volunteers who responded to our questionnaire said they had actively found out more about the environment as a result of volunteering with BTCV Scotland. 71% said that they had given advice to others about being environmentally friendly and the same percentage said that they had increased the amount of household waste that they recycled. Of those who had gardens, 63% said they had used their new skills in the garden and seven had started an environmental project of their own. The type of new knowledge about the environment gained through volunteering is reflected in the comment made by one volunteer, who claimed that she had:

More appreciation of native and non-native species and how our introduction of alien plants affects the environment.

In relation to more personal issues, a majority of volunteers discussed how their self 59

confidence had grown since participating in the programme:

More confident about meeting new people and trying new things that I did not think I could do. This had made me feel better about me!

My confidence has grown enormously since joining BTCV as it was at an all-time low. It has taught me responsibility.

And how volunteering had increased their sense of self-worth and esteem:

Volunteering has given me a new lease of life. Out and about, meeting new friends and learning new skills.

A small proportion of respondents (11%) still did not feel they had the confidence to do new things since volunteering. Nevertheless, a large proportion of respondents (74%) indicated that their volunteering experience gave them a greater sense of responsibility.

A majority of volunteers in the programme (77%) believed also that volunteering with BTCV Scotland through the Greenspaces programme has given them more options in life, while 75% felt that they had developed better social skills. In discussing this further, a volunteer made the following remark:

I have built up experience of practical environmental/conservation work and this widens the range of jobs I can apply for. Meeting new people always have the potential to open avenues of possibility.

The value of volunteering in terms of overcoming isolation is reflected in the comment below:

When I never worked with BTCV I never used to go out as much, but

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when I started working with BTCV I went out a lot more.

Almost half the volunteers (49%) felt that since becoming involved with the programme, ideas about their future careers become crystallized in that volunteering provided the space to reflect on how best to use their skills in the future:

Feel open to new ways of living, not driven by salary. Definitely going to pursue a career in wildlife conservation

Promisingly, 100% of those interviewed indicated that they would consider volunteering again. In responding volunteers mentioned certain benefits more often that others. For example, well over 90% mentioned that they met new people, learned to work well in a team, developed a better understanding of people different from themselves and had a personal sense of achievement as a result of their volunteering activity.

An equal proportion (over 90%) indicated that they felt happy and valued and had found out more about BTCV Scotland as a result.

It is clear that BTCV Scotland is popular with its volunteers and that they perceive clear and important benefits derive from volunteering with the Greenspaces programme in terms of changing attitudes to the environment, boosting a sense of self esteem, health and wellbeing. There can be no doubt that BTCV Scotland is meeting all its programme objectives in this respect.

3.3.2

Cross-Cutting Volunteer Benefits

Because the Greenspaces programme consisted of several distinct projects, volunteers were often exposed to the benefits arising from more than one. For example, a volunteer might sign up for an action break, but teams involved in other projects, such as the green gym, contributed elements of their own project to the programme of activities to be taken while on break. In this way volunteers

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experienced a wider range of activities and the benefits associated with each different activity.

The following two case studies provide an insight into broader impact that the programme had on the lives of two individuals.

CASE STUDY 6 G is an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe. He is a married student with two children. He started volunteering with BTCV in 2004. At the time he was involved with another project at his local community centre in Glasgow who referred him to BTCV. His initial tasks mainly involved outdoor work during which time he spent four days on an action break in Arran, cutting back rhododendrons. Although the cutting of alien bushes was a central activity to the action break, BTCV included several other environmental activities so that volunteers might obtain maximum benefit from the activities on offer. Subsequently, G was able to participate in activities including walks with other volunteers (gaining the benefits of fresh air and exercise and social networking) and more importantly, keeping a video diary (enhancing his photography skills). Both these activities are central to other projects (Green-gym and an earlier multi-media project). As it happened, G had previously filmed weddings in Zimbabwe, and the new project refreshed his skills and accelerated his learning as he adapted to a new environment and to new equipment. When that project came to an end he undertook further studies in media he indicated that he felt attached to the activity, If it wasnt for BTCV I would have remained a jack-of-all trades, he said. He is currently studying for an HND in TV Production, a course that he will take more than four years. G enthusiastically comments, I fell in love with the equipment and have been able to do lots of other things in the video editing field for BTCV. His activity with BTCV is an important outlet for him when he is not studying, given his family responsibilities. On the day of our interview G had found a child-minder for his sons so that he could come to the Glasgow office and finish off some film editing. His view on BTCV is very touching and sums up just how profoundly it impacts on people: I was born here, so the relationship has to continue!

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CASE STUDY 7 M arrived from Burundi in 2002 and almost immediately undertook voluntary work through the Volunteer Centre and with the local church. She was keen to undertake some outdoor activity and was referred to BTCVs Glasgow office that runs the Environments for all Project, in March 2007. Although her main reason for She is volunteering with BTCV initially was to get involved with outdoor activities and she developed a keen interest in horticulture, her interests soon broadened. currently working at the North Glasgow Allotment but informed us that she is nevertheless willing to undertake any kind of project work suggested to her by BTCV. As a result of her newly developed interest in horticulture, M is presently taking a brush cutting and strimming course and looking forward to gaining her qualification shortly. Having been involved with the Environments for All Project, which is focused on broadening access to the environment, M is impressed with BTCVs commitment to equality and inclusion. Indeed, she believes that this is their key strength and comments that despite the range of backgrounds and abilities amongst volunteers, everyone is treated equally. On a personal level, M commented that she was previously not accustomed to working with people with disabilities and that a personal outcome for her is that she could now happily working alongside them and has an understanding of the difficulties that they face. M plans to have garden in the future and having actively sought further information about the environment, since volunteering she has been giving advice to people on environmental issues.

The above cases are just two among several that tell similar stories. A significant number of respondents appeared to be aware of most projects run within the programme and were able to access activities offered in different projects whilst being predominantly involved in a project run from a specific centre.

3.3.3

Training

BTCV runs more than 100 training courses, all of them certificated. Volunteer officers (selected from amongst volunteers and having responsibilities in relation to the other volunteers) may take LANTRA23 or NPQC qualifications, which are important stepping-stones towards employability. These courses may be generic, or have specific relevance to environmental work: first aid at work, drystane dyking, brush cutting and strimming, for example. These courses normally cost 120 for members of the public and are offered free
23

LANTRA is an agency that provides accredited, formal training in environmental studies

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of charge to volunteer officers in BTCV.

During the period surveyed, the number of volunteers from all programmes taking these training courses was as follows:

MONTH September 06 October November February 07 March April May June July TOTAL

NO. Volunteers 32 25 17 22 21 16 21 22 72 248

Judging from these figures, the training programme on offer is clearly well supported. Despite the significant number of volunteers being involved in training and development, a small number of the Greenspaces questionnaire respondents (18%) indicated that they did not access any training or development, although a large percentage was aware of them (75%). Moreover while there was general awareness of training programmes, at least a quarter of those interviewed (25%) said they were not aware of the specific training opportunities that were on offer, especially those in relation to certain skills development and formal courses which would enhance employability. This finding points to a need for more explicit information on the nature of training on offer which should encourage greater take-up of training and development opportunities. Notwithstanding this, all respondents said they were clear about what was expected of them as volunteers and 95% felt effectively supported while volunteering.

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SECTION FOUR DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

The potential impacts of and outcomes from environmental volunteering reach into many policy areas. It is integral to the social and environmental justice agendas with community regeneration, improved confidence and skills, better health and increased employment opportunities for all as primary objectives in the Scottish Executives major commitment Closing the opportunity Gap (Dalgleish 2006: 20)

One of the initial triggers for Greenspaces was the Dalgleish report (ibid). Believing that its work is closely related to Scottish Governments key policy areas, BTCV Scotland sought and successfully obtained funding to develop a programme that would assist in the development and regeneration of Greenspaces in key urban areas across Scotland.

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According to BTCV Scotland, a primary reason for creating Greenspaces was to demonstrate its ability to deliver practical sustainable outputs on the ground that link to Scottish Governments key social and environmental agendas.

By investing key resources over a 6 months period, BTCV Scotland (2006) set out to demonstrate how they could

produce tangible immediate outcomes and set processes in motion that will produce sustainable outputs with opportunities for additionality in the years to follow BTCV Proposal to Scottish Executive

Through the engagement of local people within local communities BTCV Scotland is keen to illustrate how self-help through environmental volunteering delivers regeneration outcomes both for the environment and for people. With Greenspaces, BTCV Scotland intended to embed cross-cutting benefits for volunteers, including healthy lifestyles, learning and skills development, inclusion, employability, confidence building and environmental awareness. A primary objective of this evaluation is to establish how successful BTCV Scotland was in delivering these outcomes.

By drawing on the findings reported in the previous section (SECTION 3), this part of the report provides a commentary on the extent to which Greenspaces achieved its aim and objectives. By highlighting the major findings in the context of contemporary discourse, the evaluators hope to illustrate just how far BTCV Scotland progressed in meeting its aim to influence Scottish policies on regeneration and sustainable development.

4.1

Measuring Success.

Measuring the success of any community development programme is difficult (Weiss, 2003) but the task here is made more complex by a number of factors, not least the timescale of the programme implementation (6 months). Apart from the obvious difficulties involved in measuring programme impact in the short to medium term, this evaluation had to grapple with the difficulties associated with measuring impact/influence of a programme that is in 66

itself contributing to a long term strategy i.e. Sustainable Development.

Moreover,

acknowledging the vagueness around the definition and the variations in the interpretation of sustainable development, it was felt that for the purposes of this evaluation it would be useful to adopt a more practical approach to the analysis.

Thus while the evidence presented in SECTION 3 appears compelling and extremely positive on the surface, the evaluators felt it important to conduct a more rigorous analysis of the findings by appraising the success of each Greenspaces objective within a viable theoretical framework. In this case, the framework used for analysis draws mainly on the work of Jacobs (1999), Bullard (1993) and Dalgleish (2006). As discussed elsewhere (SECTION 1) Jacobs pragmatic model (1999) identified six core themes associated with sustainable development (SEE LIST BOX 1). Two of the themes24 are inherently part of the BTCV Scotlands operations as an environmental organisation. The remaining four are listed below, to underpin this analysis:

i)

Participation: involvement by Individuals and groups-in this case inclusion of individuals, communities and stakeholders

ii)

Equity: interpreted here as a commitment to meeting the basic needs of the disadvantaged25 today and in the future

iii)

Quality of life: contributing to human wellbeing - in this case healthy lifestyles, learning and development skills, confidence building, environmental awareness, employability)

iv)

Futurity: impact of current decisions on future generations- in this case the Governments regeneration and sustainability agenda

In addition, the evaluators found Bullards (1993) work useful in assessing the extent to which Greenspaces succeeds in bridging the gap between sustainable development and
24

Integration of environmental concerns in economic planning and Environmental protection i.e. policies to reduce environmental damage
25

This includes, social, economic, physical and cultural disadvantage 67

environmental justice. Finally, the work of Dalgleish (2006) provides a contemporary point of reference for situating Greenspaces within current local developments. The latter, in particular, allows the evaluators to assess the future potential of Greenspaces since an important element of this evaluation is to position it within the overall developments in environmental work in Scotland.

Additionally, this analysis will highlight gaps in Scottish environmental work and direct attention towards potential areas for research and developmental work that could be taken forward by BTCV Scotland and others involved in this area of work. With this in mind, the discussion that follows re-presents the key findings presented above under four thematic headings (Participation, Equity, Quality of Life and Futurity) to demonstrate how far BTCV has progressed in sustainable development through regeneration of urban spaces.

4.2.1 Participation

In terms of participation, BTCV Scotlands activities are grounded in the principle of allowing local people to find local solutions. With respect to this aspect, BTCV Scotland set out in Greenspaces,

to stimulate volunteering in local environments as a means to generate a sense of place and the capacity to influence regeneration through self-help. PROGRAMME OBJECTIVE ii

There is ample evidence in SECTION 3 to confirm that BTCV Scotland not only succeeded in stimulating volunteering, but has also assisted other agencies in delivering regeneration objectives by expanding volunteering opportunities. The following is a summary of evidence (extracted from SECTION 3) to support this contention:

1) By building on its existing activities (See LIST BOX 2) BTCV Scotland introduced new activities, which stimulated increased opportunities for environmental volunteering. This included the expansion of Green Gyms (in 6 Schools and in Dumfries and Galloway; Inverness; and Renfrewshire); planning and construction of a Greenspaces project in Aberdeen; creation of Healthy Holidays; a Peace of 68

Mind Garden in Stirling; a Residential Induction project for new arrivals in Glasgow and a Youth Inclusion Project in Edinburgh.

2)

These additional initiatives increased environmental volunteering by producing activities in 65 sites, involving a total of 291 volunteers who delivered a total of 4518 volunteer days- in effect 15.5 days per volunteer during the life of Greenspaces.

3)

Most significantly, Green Gym, a high demand project in Greenspaces, increased its delivery from 16 locations to 23 in just 6 months, thus allowing for a larger number of volunteers to participate in Green activities. Indeed, judging by the demand (waiting list) the potential for this project remains untapped. This is an excellent example of how local volunteers can be encouraged to participate in local regeneration activities while gaining personal skill development and healthy life-styles.

4)

Indeed, BTCV Scotlands input as a partner in improving mental and physical health is a model example of how a voluntary sector organisation can provide leadership in improving health in Scotland thereby contributing to the Scottish Governments health strategy.

5)

In terms of urban space environmental actions included, amongst others, path clearing, pruning of invasive species, weeding, litter picking and raised bed planting.

6)

In terms of involving other agencies in environmental regeneration, Greenspaces initiated several significant partnerships, some as sponsors, others as referral agencies. This expanded the capacity for other partners and agencies that were otherwise unable to deliver regeneration work to become involved in regeneration activities through offering volunteer placements.

7)

Programme activities were generally tailored to suit the needs of the community and in this way local people were able to directly offer solutions for

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their own particular local concerns. For example, since the majority of asylum seekers are resettled in Glasgow, the local agencies felt that an induction project would be valuable and a residential induction in Glasgow was undertaken. Similarly, a local mental health support group instigated the Peace of Mind Garden in Stirling.

In sum, these findings fully support our contention that BTCV Scotland, in the short term, has achieved its objective to stimulate volunteering in local spaces and increased the capacity to influence regeneration.

4.2.2

Equity

Equity is discussed with regard to the aims of inclusion and

creating opportunities for urban groups to experience Scotlands national heritage PROGRAMME OBJECTIVE iii

The findings with regard to BTCV Scotlands provision of volunteering opportunities to a diverse range of people within local communities are extremely impressive. When compared with the general volunteering pattern recorded in the Scottish Household Survey (2003) BTCV performs much better, especially in terms of attracting male, disabled and minority ethnic volunteers. In part mainly, the evaluators believe that this success is due to the approach taken by BTCV Scotland In addition to mainstreaming diversity and equality into all of its activities, BTCV Scotland, on the basis of research evidence, made concerted efforts to create a tailored programme of activities to suit different sectors of the community. As a result, many that faced barriers to volunteering felt that they were now able to access volunteering opportunities.

Moreover, given the findings of the Scottish Household Survey (2003) it is fair to say that urban areas are more likely to be home to a greater proportion of disadvantaged people, many of whom through their social and economic circumstances are unable to access the rural areas and the natural heritage. There is ample evidence in 70

SECTION 3 to confirm that BTCV Scotland succeeded in expanding environmental volunteering opportunities to a broad range of disadvantaged people across Scotland, a majority of whom indicated that they had not previously been able to enjoy the benefits of the nations natural heritage. The following findings concur:

8)

In terms of those who participated in Greenspaces, 11.2% considered themselves to be disabled. 62.1% were male and 37.7% female (compared to volunteering overall in Scotland as recorded in the Scottish Household Survey 2003, which shows 24% are and 22% are male). That is, Greenspaces succeeded in attracting a much higher number of male volunteers compared to the national average.

9)

Another remarkable finding in relation to equity, inclusion and diversity is one relating to the large proportion of ethnic minorities (10.8%) participating in Greenspaces. This is a unique achievement, given that the patterns of volunteering recorded in studies on ethnic volunteering are less positive elsewhere, and that the size of the Minority ethnic population in Scotland is relatively small at 2% (2001, Census)

10)

In terms of attracting volunteers from the 15% most deprived areas, about a quarter of the volunteers (25.1%) came from these areas, contributing to 26.1 % of the total working days. Indeed, when we look at the 20% most deprived areas, the proportion of volunteers from these areas increases to 30.7%

11)

It clear, therefore, that not only did Greenspaces stimulate a larger proportion of volunteering amongst the most disadvantaged (in terms of social, economic and cultural aspects) but took proactive measures to ensure that these communities could participate in projects that provided a rural experience and contact with natural heritage.

4.2.3

Quality of life

Improving the quality of life of individuals and communities was one of the fundamental goals

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of Greenspaces.

Again, initial indicators suggest that Greenspaces, in the short-term,

succeeded in its aim to

deliver individual beneficial outcomes to volunteers in relation to health, learning and skills development, inclusion, employability, confidence building and environmental awareness PROGRAMME OBJECTIVE I

A substantial amount of evidence was gathered in regard to the benefits for volunteers. These included ones in relation to personal development, health, life-style and awareness of environmental issues:

12)

The vast majority of those taking part in the evaluation agreed that they had benefited from the experience (94.5% overall)

13)

A large number of volunteers spoke at length of how the projects they were involved in had influenced their personal attitudes towards the environment and environmental conservation.

14)

A substantial majority (69%) of the volunteers said they had actively found out more about the environment as a result of volunteering with BTCV Scotland. 71% said that they had given advice to others about being environmentally friendly and the same percentage said that they had increased the amount of household waste that they recycled.

15)

Of those who had gardens, 63% said they had used their new skills in the garden and seven had started an environmental project of their own.

16)

A majority of volunteers also explained how their confidence had grown since participating in the programme and how volunteering had increased their sense of self-worth and esteem.

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17)

A majority of volunteers in Greenspaces (77%) believed also that the volunteering with BTCV Scotland had given them more options in life and 75% of the participants felt that they had developed better social skills.

18)

Almost half the volunteers (49%) felt that since becoming involved with Greenspaces, ideas about their future careers had crystallized and that volunteering had provided the space to reflect on how best to use their skills in the future

19)

Well over 90% mentioned that they met new people, learned to work well in a team, developed a better understanding of people different from themselves and had a personal sense of achievement as a result of their volunteering activity.

20)

The same proportion (over 90%) indicated that they felt happy and valued, volunteering was fun.

21)

In terms of employability, BTCV runs more than 100 training courses, all of them certificated. Volunteer Officers (volunteers who take on team leadership responsibilities) may take LANTRA26 or NPQC qualifications, which are important stepping stones towards employability. However, the evaluation was unable to establish whether Greenspaces assisted directly in obtaining employment other than in two cases presented anecdotally.

24)

The training courses were popular, with 248 training courses places taken up during the period of the evaluation. (Figures for all BTCV volunteers)

It is clear from these findings that Greenspaces participants perceive clear and important quality of life benefits derive from volunteering in Greenspaces projects. Benefits are mainly in terms of changing attitudes to the environment, boosting a sense of self-esteem, health and wellbeing. There can be no doubt that BTCV Scotland is presently meeting this objective, in the short-term. However, it is difficult to assess the longer-term impact and to
26

LANTRA is an agency that provides accredited, formal training in environmental studies

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comment on whether or not these benefits will be sustained or increased, given the time span of Greenspaces. Notwithstanding this, it is clear from the findings discussed in SECTION 3 that Greenspaces has been successful in achieving crosscutting benefits for a number of volunteers as reflected in the direct quotes and case studies.

4.2.3

Futurity

Jacobs (1999) discusses futurity mainly in terms of the impact of current decisions on future generations. The evaluators applied this theme to assess how close Greenspaces had come to achieving its long-term, overarching aim

To make a substantive contribution to the implementation of the Scottish Executives policy agenda across a number of policy areas, focusing on greenspace regeneration AIM OF GREENSPACES

The strategic direction for sustainable development and regeneration set out by the Scottish Government is likely to have profound implications for future generations and for future work in this area. It is therefore useful to assess the effectiveness of Greenspaces as a possible model for implementing these agendas in future. In this regard this evaluation has identified a number of positive trends, which if sustained, will no doubt benefit future generations. In particular, its activities related to raising awareness of environmental issues through educational projects are significant. The long-term implications of Greenspaces will depend on a number of factors, not least the continuity (sustainability) of the programme, supported by adequate resources and skilled management.

In respect of this, objectives (iv) and objectives (v) will be most critical. BTCV Scotlands intention to

expand the network of volunteer groups through BTCV Scotlands Community Local Action Network (CLAN) GREENSPACES OBJECTIVE (iv)

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will be key to developing a nation-wide voluntary sector infrastructure. While little has been said about CLAN in this evaluation, BTCV Scotland publications and leaflets reveal that much of BTCV Scotlands support, advice and information are delivered through its community networks. Burns (2007) concurs:

much of BTCV Scotlands practical assistance to community groups is provided through its network of local offices and volunteer teams. Additional support is channeled through Community Local Action network (CLAN) providing information, advice, insurance and opportunities to share experiences. (2007: 56)

CLAN has a broad membership of around 1000 youth, school, community, voluntary and statutory agencies (Burns, 2007). This, if developed, can form a powerful infrastructure, not only for information exchange but delivery of educational programmes and regeneration projects. During the preparation of this report, the Evaluators were informed that BTCV Scotland had become a member of the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Association (FEVA27) established by the Scottish Government, a practical step proposed by Dalgleish (2006) to strengthen links amongst voluntary agencies. A strengthened network like FEVA will, in our view, be crucial in building upon programmes such as Greenspaces to deliver the broader Government agenda (discussed later in the report).

More specifically, as an immediate action, BTCV Scotland needs to speedily work towards achieving Objective (v);

Develop a structured approach to environmental volunteering which provides a means to measure the distance traveled by individual volunteers in terms of environmental and social development and where possible the means to provide accreditation of individual development

It is understood that this evaluation is a first step towards achieving objective (v). A key difficulty in fully achieving this objective within the time span of Greenspaces is twofold. First, the evaluators believe that this was an ambitious objective to set given the short-timeframe of
27

Referred to hereafter as FEVA 75

the project implementation. It is virtually impossible to effectively measure the journey travelled in an accurate manner in the absence of a pre-test evaluation. Given that the evaluation commenced mid-way through Greenspaces, the evaluators were unable to accurately assess the starting point of volunteers journey. At best, based on the positive experiences recorded here, there is much evidence to suggest that initial expectations were in many cases exceeded. This evaluation can confirm a positive impact on individuals and communities, but more importantly, it also provides a benchmark for further impact assessments. The data from this evaluation can form the basis for developing an in-house strategy which could monitor medium to longer-term environmental outputs as well as assessing the journey traveled by individuals in terms of progress in personal skill developments, environmental awareness, green living, life-styles and wellbeing. The evaluation has highlighted lessons to be learned from the implementation of Greenspaces and improvements that could be made. Perhaps the most important area for improvement relates to Objective (v)

Objective (v) concerns the development of an in-house strategy for monitoring progress and environmental outputs and evaluating personal impact on individuals (distance traveled). It is our belief that this objective needs to be deconstructed to make clear exactly what aspect of the distance travelled is being measured. Decisions must be made on whether BTCV Scotland wishes to measure management performance or volunteer benefits. If the latter, is it in relation to awareness of environmental issues (education), personal development (selfesteem, confidence) or skills for enhancing employability? If so, BTCV should agree a set of relevant criteria to accurately measure progress on each so that the system for assessing benefits is conducted in more tangible ways for accreditation purposes. Individual progress must be measurable against a standardized set of performance indicators. In this respect, the Volunteer Impact Assessment toolkit devised by the National Volunteering Centre could be adapted to suit BTCV purposes. The measurement need not all be quantitative and data gathered should complementary to qualitative data. This evaluation has discussed the developments in the evaluation field and the advent of more qualitative models for assessing so-called softer outcomes.

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SECTION 5 THE WAY FORWARD AND CONCLUDING COMMENTS

5.1

The Way forward

As a model for delivering multiple outcomes and benefits, Greenspaces has progressed well so far and has interesting future potential despite some shortcomings that have been highlighted in the preceding discussions. In general, the concept of Greenspaces sits well within present thinking on environmental issues in Scotland. As illustrated in feedback from respondents participating in this evaluation, environmental volunteering has the potential to motivate them towards a greater awareness of environmental issues; improve and conserve the quality of the local environment; and enhance mental and physical health and well being through practical conservation work. Further outcomes include, the development of new skills; an increased awareness of other peoples circumstances; and a sense of feeling valued. The challenge for BTCV Scotland, now is to consider how best to develop Greenspaces into a substantive, longer-term programme.

Certain shortcomings identified in SECTION 4 would require external intervention as they relate to broader concerns in the voluntary sector, for example resource limitation, short-term funding, lack of core funding and strategic leadership from government. These challenges are therefore not unique to BTCV Scotland. In her recent report, Dalgleish (2006) outlines a number of aspects that mirror the experiences noted here. One significant issue that emerges in the Dalgleish report is the capacity of environmental volunteer organisations (like BTCV Scotland) to manage and support volunteers, in the absence of resources to fully develop their potential.

77

Referring to volunteer managers, she argues (ibid) that:

they need all the skills that would be expected of a manager of a paid workforce, yet resources are always tight, training in not well co-coordinated and there is no professional recognition for the professionalism that they bring to the job (2006: 22).

Given that volunteering has traditionally been seen as a donation of free time, volunteer input is at best not appropriately valued, or at worse, taken for granted. Such attitudes are no longer appropriate (if they ever were) in contemporary societies, especially since statutory agencies and government are looking increasingly to volunteers to fulfill on the ground tasks that are in reality their responsibility. Yet, more often than not volunteer effort is rarely accounted for in material terms, as is the case with BTCV Scotland.

In this regard, Dalgleish (ibid) concludes that the Scottish Executive should provide clear leadership, indicating a lack of focus in environmental volunteering with respect to infrastructure, roles and responsibilities (including funding, facilitating, management and training). Consequently, she suggests that there is a case for more coherent partnerships to be formed and resources to be made available for training and development opportunities for both environmental volunteers and their managers.

The government can have less to disagree with here given their interest in environmental volunteering. Invariably, investing in programmes like Greenspaces, makes good sense given the benefits highlighted in the findings in this evaluation.

It is therefore heartening to note that the Scottish Executives response to the Dalgleish (2006) report indicates an obvious desire to enhance a framework for encouraging environmental volunteering. In particular, there is a recognition of the distinctive features of environmental volunteering as a mechanism to develop environmental good citizenship in Scotland, across different age and geographical areas:

78

Encouraging people to take up or do more environmental volunteering will play a crucial part in developing an approach to environmental citizenship that achieves worldwide recognition. (Playing Our Part:The Scottish Executives response to the Dalgleish Report on Environmental Volunteering).

Moreover, the Scottish Executive has also introduced practical and financial backing for initiatives such as the Community Environmental Renewal Scheme (CERS) and the Sustainable Action Fund, which support community-based volunteering projects, such as restoring local green-space. Although it is difficult to generalise from local, specific case studies, proactive measures of this kind that are consistent with sustainable policy are to be welcomed and seized by environmental organisations like BTCV Scotland.

Indeed, BTCV is in a good position to develop areas of its work that are currently in their infancy stage, including education, health and equalities -areas of great strength for BTCV. (Coincidentally, these three areas were also mentioned by Dalgleish as areas that environmental volunteering can have an impact upon.)

5.2

Potential Areas for Greenspaces Development

Education

In Choosing our Future: Scotland's Sustainable Development Strategy (2005) the importance of education was identified as a mechanism for making Scotland more sustainable. The following questions are central to this endeavor:

What are the benefits of education in sustainable development in Scotland?

What is currently taught about sustainable development in the formal education curriculum?

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To what extent is the sustainable development message clear and easily understood?

What are the central theories and principles which underpin a sustainable development approach?

Previous survey evidence on environmental attitudes and values, including awareness of the term sustainable development, has revealed that educational attainment had the strongest influence of six factors upon awareness and attitudes (McCormick and McDowell, 1999). Facing up to the challenge of sustainable development entails not only informed knowledge, but also the ability to think about and act upon the long-term consequences of our actions, can be local, national and global.

Principally we need to value the environment and determine to what extent educational approaches succeed in introducing people to the benefits and challenges of environmental volunteering, and how far these have a longer-term impact. Scottish National Heritages online directory, Learning and Teaching Scotlands appointment of a national development officer, BTCVs Green Gym and the national Eco-Schools programme are all practical steps in the right direction. The Scottish Funding Council also works with educational institutions and national bodies to identify how sustainable skills, attitudes and behaviours can influence the development of courses. The work of local authorities involving Learning Connections (previously part of Communities Scotland) on community learning and development is also vitally important for promoting and enhancing longer-term volunteering.

Equalities

It is widely agreed that children and young people, as well as adults, should have fun and enjoy the experience as volunteers if longer-term commitments are to be expected. However, there is an ongoing perception that environmental volunteering is typically a middle class form of activity (despite the inclusive nature of strategies run by agencies such as BTCV). There appears to be a strong case for greater emphasis on recognising achievements by diverse people involved in environmental volunteering, for example by organising celebrations, using the media to promote positive publicity including wider use of the

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Millennium Volunteers Awards, volunteering undertaken through Project Scotland and considering the use of rewards/incentives on completion.

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 could provide an excellent opportunity to involve young people in environmental volunteering projects. Finally, since actions really do speak louder than words, good role models are vitally important, for example, in the shape of corporate and employee volunteering, as well as the Scottish Executives Make A Difference Day and placement work for volunteers with Project Scotland.

There is much debate surrounding human-induced climate change, what sociologists call the disorganising discourse. However, if we start from the principle that our relationship with nature (and each another) needs to be based on mutual respect, we may be able to move towards a more just and sustainable future. Fitzpatrick (1998; 2003) in particular refers to the qualitative transformation of values required throughout society if a genuine concern for the natural and social environment is to truly shape and inspire sustainable policy. With this in mind, the dynamic process of socialisation (the manner in which behaviour is shaped by human values and experience in social situations) highlights the power of various agents such as the family, peer groups, schooling, the mass media and government in shaping our attitudes and behaviour. Thus, efforts to communicate clear knowledge of sustainability are crucial, since these inform people of the impact potential of their lifestyles on the environment now and in the future.

As suggested above, one of the most persistent debates surrounding environmental volunteering has been the desirability of promoting aspects of inclusion and social justice. The Environmental Justice Fund (which amalgamates the existing Community Environmental Renewal Grants and Sustainable Action Grants) will have a key focus on supporting hard to reach groups. In its Volunteering Strategy (2004), the Scottish Executive focused on dismantling the barriers to volunteering and recognised that the barriers to entry and sustained volunteering were both complex and multifaceted. To keep ahead of such rapid shifts in environmental work, BTCV Scotland must keep abreast of these changes. Despite its early success with Greenspaces, BTCV Scotland must regularly review its progress in line with such movements.

The delivery of regeneration through environmental volunteering will continue to be

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challenging especially in light of recent findings (Scottish Household Survey (2003). In this respect BTCV Scotland has a head start given the positive findings in relation to the types of volunteers attracted to Greenspaces and needs to continue to build on the momentum set by Greenspaces. It is clear that there is a broad and challenging agenda requiring informed debate and much imagination. Resources may have to be diverted to target greater engagement among those presently excluded, along with a stronger focus on retaining and supporting those who contribute to volunteering.

Moreover, the longer-term impact of Greenspaces on future generations through its influence on Scottish Government agendas will depend on strengthening some of the weaknesses identified. It is suggested that BTCV Scotland addresses, more urgently, the following:

5.3

Recommendations

Recommendation One: It is suggested that Greenspaces is strengthened and properly integrated into BTCV Scotlands Business plan, to ensure longer-term sustainability of the programme.

Recommendation Two Given that one of the key elements of success is dependent on effective management, and given Dalgleishs comments on the shortcomings generally in the provisions for volunteer management, BTCV Scotland should develop its own strategy for supporting volunteering management more effectively.

Recommendation Three Given repeated concerns about resources (staff and funding) it is imperative that BTCV Scotland devises a discrete funding strategy for Greenspaces so that the programme is not reliant on a patchwork of funding as is the case presently.

Recommendation Four Although using in-house staff to deliver Greenspaces makes good sense in terms of skill enhancement and staff development, it is suggested that the programme is fully costed to 82

include capital and management costs. This will provide a more realistic picture of the cost of delivery of a programme like Greenspaces. The case of the Edinburgh Youth Initiative is a good example of how much more effective the start up of projects could be with realistic resource allocation.

Recommendation Five In assessing the material value of the work delivered in Greenspaces, the evaluators believe that BTCV Scotland is missing a trick. Despite being a registered charity and as such a nontrading entity, it is important for BTCV Scotland to be aware of the commercial value of their activity, especially since, in some cases, they are assisting in delivering the objectives of statutory agencies. A rough estimate of the value of labour provided through Greenspaces during the six months it ran was reasonably high (271,080). This does not reflect the commercial value of the work undertaken. It is recommended that BTCV Scotland devise a formula or system for measuring the commercial value of their work so that this can be included in funding bids and reinvested in the development of Greenspaces.

Recommendation Six Building on the findings in the evaluation, it is suggested that the programme plan is reviewed and replaced with a viable business plan (with SMART longer term objectives, an evaluation strategy, a core set of activities, and a contingency plan). This will enable BTCV Scotland to address some of the technical and operational challenges encountered during this phase, for example, managing the demand for Green Gym, increasing the dedicated resources and widening the available skill base.

Recommendation Seven If BTCV Scotland is serious about being a strategic partner in delivering against the Scottish Government agendas in the longer term, it is crucial to maintain an ongoing close working relationship with Government, strategic stakeholders and community groups. Building on the strong relationships they already have with local communities, BTCV is well placed to articulate local community concerns to policy makers and to ensure that local people are involved in shaping policies on volunteering and regeneration, which would better suit their requirements.

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Recommendation Eight It is crucial that BTCV Scotland builds on its excellent ability to attract people from communities that have traditionally not been attracted to volunteering through perceived barriers in society. Given the findings in this regard, BTCV Scotland is in a position to lead the way for other agencies that might not otherwise be able to attract a diverse range of people. In this respect, the referral and placement system appeared to have worked well. There might be some value here in developing an overall strategy for specialist placements.

Recommendation Nine During the period of the evaluation, a number of volunteers said they were unaware of training opportunities which were on offer. It is recommended that thought be given to widening access to the in-house training by increasing awareness of the specific courses on offer.

Recommendation Ten In terms of future work development, BTCV Scotland is in a good position to broaden areas of its work that are currently in an infant stage, including education, health and equalities areas in which they have already made significant inroads. In particular, there is much scope for the work on Green-Gym and widening of associations in the health sector. Similarly, BTCV ought to explore further the possibilities of becoming involved as a partner for testing and piloting new models of working, in future applied research projects with academics and researchers. These are excellent and timely opportunities that must not be missed.

Recommendation Eleven Finally, it is suggested that, using the findings of this evaluation, BTCV Scotland devises an in-house monitoring and evaluation strategy to evaluate the development, progress and impact of Greenspaces over a longer time span and at the same time provide annual reviews to benchmark its implementation year on year.

5.4

Concluding Comments

The Dalgleish Report suggests the Scottish Government should take the lead in paving the way for sustainable development by supporting environmental volunteering. Dalgleish calls

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for a different and broader approach to environmental volunteering with the development a more strategic framework:

The volunteer effort is at present understandably individualistic and does not relate to overall policy aims as directly as it might. This may be a consequence of the prevalence of small project funding or may simply relate to the need for policy departments to recognise environmental volunteering as an important component in delivering their policy outcomes and to influence voluntary organisations in furthering those outcomes. The Dalgleish Report (2006: 20).

This approach would entail a clear statement of purpose and set of actions to ensure a better record on environmental volunteering in Scotland. The Scottish Government acknowledges the need for a wider culture of environmental volunteering, and the development of a clear leadership role. The Government in turn highlights the merits of a partnership approach, where interventions should be made where they can genuinely add value and make a difference. The establishment of a sustainable approach to volunteering requires cooperation, communication and collaboration with other individuals, groups, agencies and stakeholders in an attempt to foster alliances in the pursuit of volunteering, with a strong emphasis on the building of trust among these different groups.

The Scottish Government is also in general agreement that it would be entirely appropriate to consider how budgets are spent and whether they can achieve environmental and volunteering objectives by approaching budgets in a different way and using environmental volunteering to derive best value from the funds expended. The Government suggests that potential volunteers may feel isolated in a crowded landscape of organisations. A strengthened FEVA (Forum for Environmental Volunteering Associations) in conjunction with stronger links among voluntary agencies are practical steps proposed by Dalgleish.

Community based support is currently available from networks such as CLAN (See Community Local Action Network, 2007) managed by BTCV, and Forward Scotlands Community Webnet. The Volunteering Impact Toolkit (National Volunteering Centre) adapted by Volunteer Development Scotland is another very constructive approach to measure the outcomes/impacts of volunteering. Thus, a more coherent and integrated approach to

85

voluntary work which includes training, funding and measurable outcomes would be wholly consistent with the future development of environmental volunteering.

Finally, recent recommendations from the Governments Implementation Group (established in response to the Dalgleish Report) propose the appointment of a Project Officer to support Volunteer Managers in environmental organizations and call for assistance to support the various networks and resources to allow organisations to engage in the Investing in Volunteers Programme. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, Richard Lochhead also led a debate in Parliament for a Greener Scotland and announced 250,000 per year for three years to take forward the recommendations of the Implementation Group. A Project Officer has now been recruited and a three-year plan is being delivered to meet the objectives.

The publication of the Dalgleish Report; the Scottish Governments response to the report; and the Scottish Governments current Budget Spending Review offer encouraging signs that the issues surrounding environmental volunteering have ongoing currency. However, we would nevertheless support a greater commitment to research and evaluation with a stronger focus on comparative, theoretical and policy developments in the field of environmental volunteering. While not a definitive list, key areas of interest might be:

Environmental volunteering as a mainstream activity: is it supported by resources that are vulnerable to reduction or embedded within other mainstream activities?

Evaluation of why people are attracted to environmental volunteering and stop volunteering: what do we know about the dynamics of environmental volunteering compared with other forms of voluntary action?

Evaluation of barriers and action to tackle barriers: what long-standing and emerging barriers are identified, and where does the capacity lie to address them?

Evaluation of measurable outputs and outcomes - personal, economic, social and environmental, assessed against explicit practice objectives. Are volunteers themselves involved in setting relevant indicators and outcome measures? 86

To what extent does environmental volunteering meet personal development, community empowerment, service-giving and campaigning motivations?

To what extent does environmental volunteering contribute to more sustainable citizenship?

Does environmental volunteering link to other aspects of policy in an effective manner: is it integrated?

Do environmental projects engaging with volunteers have the potential to act as catalysts for local economic development and neighbourhood renewal?

If, as the Dalgleish Report suggests, there is a need for policy makers to better understand the role that volunteering can have in achieving strategic policy objectives, a fuller understanding of these issues may be a necessary step in the right direction.

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Appendix 1 Questionnaire

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Volunteer survey Welcome to our Greenspace Programme volunteer survey. Your views count! We want find out if you have a good experience through your volunteering and if we have made a difference to your life as a result of your volunteering experience. The answers to this survey will help us understand what we are doing well and what we could do better so please be honest!

Q1.

What are the benefits for you from volunteering with BTCV?

Please read the statements below and decide whether you agree or disagree with each statement. Circle one number for each statement.
Strongly disagree Strongly agree Dont know Not appli cable

Volunteering with BTCV has allowed me to 1. Be outdoors 2. Get some exercise 3. Do something worthwhile for the environment 4. Access training 5. Meet new people 6. Work well in a team 7. Have an better understanding of people different to me 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

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8. Have the confidence to do new things 9. Have a sense of achievement 10. Feel valued 11. Feel happy 12. Find out more about BTCV Anything else? (please write here).

1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4 4

0 0 0 0 0 0

NA NA NA NA NA NA

Q1( b ) If you have said you agreed at 7,8,9 or10, can you tell us a little bit more about the way you feel now compared to the way you felt before volunteering with BTCV? Can you give any examples of the difference?

Q2.

Are you doing anything different since volunteering?

Please read the statements below and decide whether you agree or disagree with each statement. Circle one number for each statement.
Strongly disagree Strongly agree Dont know Not appl icab le

Since Ive volunteered with BTCV 1. I have used new skills in my garden 1 2 3 4 0 NA

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2. I have given advice to someone else about being environmentally friendly 3. I recycle more household waste 4. I have started a environment project 5. I have actively found out more information about the environment

1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4

0 0 0 0

NA NA NA NA

Q3. If you can think of anything else you are doing different about the environment as a result of your experience with BTCV please write about it in the box below:

Q4. Thinking longer term, has volunteering made a difference to your life? Please read the statements below and tick Yes, No or Not Sure to describe how each statement applies to you. Then, if you tick YES then please also tick the relevant column to show whether volunteering with BTCV contributed to this difference.

Is this true of you?

If yes, how much did BTCV help with this?

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Since Ive volunteered with BTCV

Yes

No

Not Sure

Nothing
to do with BTCV

Partly to Do with BTCV

A lot to do with BTCV

1. I have more options in my life 2. I have a better idea of what to do in my future career 3. 4. I have better social skills 5. I have more sense of responsibility 6. I would consider volunteering again in the future Q4 (b) If you have said that 1,2,3 or 4 is true of you, can you tell us a little more about the options that are open to you now, or the ideas you have for your future career, the new social skills youve developed or the way in which you feel you have more sense of responsibility?

Q5. How well run is BTCV volunteering? Think about your volunteering and decide how much you agree or disagree with each statement. Circle one number for each statement
Strongly disagree Strongly agree Dont know

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1. I feel supported when volunteering 2. I have fun 3. It is clear what is expected of me 4. I am made aware of training and development opportunities 5. I would recommend BTCV to other people

1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4

0 0 0 0 0

NA NA NA NA NA

Q6 A few questions about you (please tick the appropriate box) a) Are you: Male Transgendered

Female

b)

What age group are you? Please tick one

[BTCV to add the appropriate age categories] c) Please describe your ethnic origin [or BTCV to add categories that are appropriate for you]

d) Yes

Are you disabled? No

e)

How long have you been volunteering with BTCV 1- 3 months 4-6 months 7-12 months

Less than 1 month More than a year

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f)

What is your employment status now? In vocational training In further/higher

In employment education In full time volunteering

Unemployed

Other ____________

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