The outcomes of the prestigious 2020 SURF Awards for Best Practice in Community Regeneration were announced last night (18/02/21) at a virtual celebratory presentation event streamed live via Vimeo.

Having postponed the annual sit down dinner in the Grand Central Hotel in December, SURF delivered a virtual Awards Dinner for the first time in its 23-year history.

Representatives of the five category winning initiatives for 2020 were personally congratulated on their inspiring work by the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Communities, Aileen Campbell MSP.

The SURF Awards are delivered each year by SURF, a regeneration forum with over 300 cross-sector member organisations across Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government. The purpose is to highlight, celebrate and share the achievements of initiatives that address physical, social and economic challenges in communities across Scotland. Given the impacts of the pandemic, the Awards had a particular focus in 2020 on celebrating organisations and communities who had continued to deliver projects and services throughout a year like no other.

SURF’s panel of 20 independent judges are drawn from national regeneration bodies and community groups. They carefully assessed all of the varied SURF Awards nominations in five thematic categories, virtually visiting 15 different shortlisted initiatives from Dumfries and Galloway to Gairloch and Campbeltown, before selecting the following category winners:

  • Housing and Regeneration: Nith Valley Leaf Trust Community-Owned Passivhaus Project (Closeburn, Dumfries and Galloway). Scotland’s first community-owned homes built to ‘Passivhaus’ ultralow energy standards met two distinct community needs around a lack of affordable housing and addressing fuel poverty.
  • Creative Regeneration: The Glasgow Barons (Govan, Glasgow). A Govan based orchestra initiative which brings the community together for musical performances, showcases local talent and highlights Govan’s historical architecture.
  • Community Led Regeneration: The Tannahill Centre (Ferguslie Park, Paisley). An under-utilised centre has reformed its role and become a trusted community hub, providing an enhanced portfolio of services, and better engaging with the local community.
  • Supporting Youth Employability: Street League: Head, Body, Future (National). Head Body Future (HBF) is Street League’s online youth employment service, which works with young people who face insecurity every day.
  • Scotland’s Most Improved Place: Campbeltown Town Centre (Argyll and Bute). A combination of community-led regeneration and a multimillion pound renovation project have produced a thriving town centre, and Campbeltown is becoming an increasingly attractive place to live, work and invest.

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

An additional Special Recognition Award was received by Ambitious Partnership for Improvement, a collaborative community effort in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, for their outstanding effort to support their local community weather the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The judges also recognised and commended the efforts of Feldy-Roo, a food initiative delivered in Aberfeldy and surrounding towns, and “We Stand Better When We Stand Together” delivered by the Collydean Community Centre in Glenrothes.

The evening concluded with an after dinner speech from Award-Winning Author, Journalist and Playwright Kirstin Innes. Kirstin’s first novel, Fishnet, won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize in 2015 and is now in development for television with STV; her second novel, Scabby Queen, was published by 4th Estate in 2020 and longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. She is currently working on a play for the National Theatre of Scotland and a screenplay on the life of Muriel Spark.

Since 2003, the SURF Awards have been delivered by SURF in partnership with the Scottish Government. SURF is also grateful for additional support provided by Architecture & Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Skills Development Scotland towards the delivery of thematic categories.


Kate Wimpress, Chair of SURF, said: “2020 challenged us all in ways largely unimaginable at the start of the year, with the global pandemic hitting those least resourced hardest. SURF’s key objective is to improve the lives and opportunities of residents in Scotland’s disadvantaged communities with our Annual Awards recognising and rewarding best practice and innovation. In this strangest of years it is fitting that the Awards highlight responses to Covid-19 alongside ongoing regeneration efforts. Sincere commendations to this year’s nominees and winners facing unprecedented times head on, and to the judges for bringing their enthusiasm and expertise to the table, virtual as it has had to be.”

Andy Milne, Chief Executive of SURF, said: The SURF Awards have been a personal regenerative highlight in my 18 years with SURF. Real community regeneration is always challenging, perhaps now more than ever, but still, this and every year it is uplifting to see what can be achieved when people act together for the common good.”

Aileen Campbell MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Communities, said: “The SURF Awards are more important than ever. In this exceptionally challenging year, we have seen an unprecedented response from Scotland’s communities. They have supported each other like never before so I am delighted that this year’s awards recognise those who have truly gone above and beyond to support those most in need. The care and compassion shown is inspiring and will support our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as to build fairer and healthier communities across Scotland.”

Sara Jackson, Head of Business Services at SFHA, said: “In a year that has seen organisations and groups across Scotland facing unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is particularly apt to celebrate the achievements of those working in our communities. Your work not only supports our communities – it improves people’s lives – and SFHA would like to congratulate the winners of the 2020 SURF Awards as well as the nominees.”