2018 SURF Annual Conference


 Date and Venue

  • CoSLA Conference Centre, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh
  • Thursday 23rd August 2018, 9.30am until 4pm


SURF and its members are longstanding advocates, and active supporters, of Community Led Regeneration. Since the Scottish Government’s 2011 post economic crash National Regeneration Statement, communities ‘doing it for themselves’ has been the shared ideal of most practitioners, policy makers and academics.

A range of ‘capacity building’ and ’empowerment’ measures, are targeted at encouraging more communities to ‘take back control’ at their local level, for their own purposes and in their own way.

Through its annual Awards process and its wider activities and networks, SURF promotes the most successful examples and then widely shares the learning from their experiences. That learning has highlighted the limits, as well as the advantages, of the community led model. It has also confirmed bureaucratic and resource barriers for harder pressed communities trying to use that ideal approach.

The reality is that while genuinely community led regeneration is an inspiring sight, it is still a fairly rare one. In terms of scale, even some of the best examples still only have a limited impact on the bigger economic and social challenges that often have their roots outside the community. Too many have to spend too much time and effort just trying to survive.

Many leading practitioners are becoming increasingly concerned that unrealistic expectations, and insufficient support, is being invested in what is a still a relatively small, fragile and disparate model of regeneration. They argue that there are much bigger players and resources that could do more to help by delivering more targeted and effective regeneration support in what is an increasingly challenging climate for poorer communities.


SURF agrees. Its aspiration is to help better connect all of the different regeneration assets, processes and resources that are essential for addressing poverty and inequality and developing more inclusive economies; nationally and locally.

As part of its progressive work programme to that end, the 2018 SURF Annual Conference will promote the real experience of authentic community led regeneration examples. At the same time, it will explore where these successes sit in the wider policy and practice landscape and what needs to change to make genuine community led regeneration a more connected and impactful reality.

This FREE to attend short day conference programme, is designed to be informative, participative and enjoyable for everyone interested in more successful community regeneration across Scotland


9.30am              Registration and networking with tea/coffee and music by Fèis Phàislig.

10.00am            Welcome Jamie Ballantine, Vice Chair, SURF

10.10am             People, Places and Policy – SURF’s Andy Milne, and Elaine Cooper

10.30am             Shared prioritiesAileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Scottish Government

10.50am             Making it Real – Reeni Kennedy Boyle, Chair, Bute Island Alliance

11.15am              Coffee, chat, pastries and music by Fèis Phàislig

11.45am              Regeneration and Inequality – Gerry McCartney, Head of Public Health Observatory, NHS Health Scotland

12pm                   Reality Check– Electronic Voting Session

12.10pm             Policy, Priorities and Practice – Panel Session – Gerry McCartney, Reeni Kennedy Boyle, David Cowan (Scottish Government), Jim Gray (Former Glasgow CC) and Robin McAlpine (Common Weal)

12.45pm             Lunch with exhibitors at our Community Regeneration Marketplace

1.30pm               Whose Regeneration? – Darren McGarvey, Author of Poverty Safari

1.50pm               Partners in Regeneration – Panel Session – with Darren McGarvey, David Cowan (Scottish Government), Elaine Cooper (SURF), Hazel Cross (Fife Council) and Martin Cawley (Big Lottery Fund)

2.20pm             Community Culture James Robertson, author and poet.

2.40pm              Summary and What Next?Andy Milne, Chief Executive, SURF

2.50pm              Thanks and close of conferenceJamie Ballantine, Vice Chair, SURF

3pm                    Sharing Success – tea/coffee and networking in a Community Regeneration Marketplace


We are currently operating a waiting list system for the conference. If you would like to be added to the list please email emma@surf.scot with your details.


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