The outcomes of the prestigious 2021 SURF Awards for Best Practice in Community Regeneration were announced tonight (09/12/21) at a celebratory presentation event in Glasgow’s Voco Grand Central Hotel.

SURF were delighted to be back in the ballroom once again to celebrate the 23rd annual SURF Award programme.

Representatives of the five category winning initiatives for 2021 were personally congratulated on their inspiring work by the Scottish Government’s Head of Regeneration, David Cowan.

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, which is particularly prevalent given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

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, visiting 15 different shortlisted initiatives from Dumfries and Galloway to Fraserburgh, before selecting the following category winners:

  • Housing and Regeneration: Step Up-Step Down at the Telford Centre (Fort Augustus, Highland). Situated in the grounds of a rural care home, the development has provided independent living solutions for the ageing population in Fort Augustus, whilst also freeing up general need housing and care home places.
  • Creative Regeneration: RIG Arts (Greenock, Inverclyde). A socially engaged arts charity who work with partners across Inverclyde and Renfrewshire to bring artists and communities together in a collaborative and creative way.
  • Community Led Regeneration: The Furniture Project (Stranraer) Ltd (Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway). Set up by a group of local activists the project provides affordable furniture to families on low income whilst also reducing the amount of household items and white goods that go to landfill.
  • Supporting Youth Employability: Move On: Employability Fund (Glasgow). Move On provide disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to gain employment focused skills, qualifications and practical work experience at their FareShare Warehouse in Scotstoun.
  • Scotland’s Most Improved Place: Regenerating Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire). Through investment from the public and private sector and programmes of heritage and conservation reinstatement, the town is being lifted and renewed.

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

The evening concluded with an after dinner speech from After Dinner Speaker Writer, Comedian and Co-Aurthor of ‘Brickwork: A Biography of The Arches’ David Bratchpiece. David is a writer, comedian and occasional actor. As a comedian he has performed around the UK, including at the Glasgow Comedy Festival and Edinburgh Fringe. His short plays have been shown around Scotland including The Tron Theatre and the Gilded Balloon. He recently co-authored the critically acclaimed book ‘Brickwork: A Biography of The Arches’ with fellow ex-Arches employee, author Kirstin Innes.

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: The last 18 months have changed us all, with the least resourced facing the hardest of challenges. As the bids to ‘build back better’ become muted against multiple competing agendas and the comfort of business as usual, the SURF Awards show in practical terms how better can be done. Across sector, country and scale, the shortlisted projects demonstrate the resilience, ingenuity and compassion of our communities, and crucially show how we can do things differently for, by and with those who have been hit hardest, pre and post pandemic. All of the projects shine a bright light on what people can do when given the right tools and the go ahead. I thank them for their dedication and thank our committed set of judges for bringing their work to national attention.

Euan Leitch, Chief Executive of SURF, said: Judging the SURF Awards is not a clinical exercise in identifying excellence, it’s a journey into how communities have delivered regeneration. As in previous years this has been an emotional experience for the judges, witnessing first-hand the outcomes achieved and hearing about the barriers that were overcome to deliver needed change. The 2021 nominees amply display what can be achieved when communities are given the resource, support and agency needed for success.

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur said: “The SURF Awards are a highlight of the calendar for community groups. They celebrate and share transformational initiatives and achievements that help address economic, social, environmental and physical challenges in communities across the country.

“The experience of the past 21 months has shown us what can be achieved when we look past traditional barriers to get the right service or support to people when they need it.

“We’ve long known that local knowledge and understanding is key to developing sustainable local responses and the SURF Awards provide welcome recognition for those who support their community to thrive.

“By working together with the same energy, imagination, and urgency as we approached the pandemic, we can drive a recovery that delivers more for all of Scotland.”

 Karen Dick, from Creative Regeneration Award Sponsor Creative Scotland, said: “Visiting the shortlisted projects across Scotland this year, judges have seen the positive impact of people working together to address multiple challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis, and effect change in their communities. It’s more important than ever for the SURF Awards to shine a light on this work, and continue to champion community leadership. We’d like to congratulate everyone for their exceptional work in difficult circumstances.”