Why tenants’ groups need volunteers to succeed

My name is Paul Vaughan and I’m currently the Chair of Gateside Tenants and Residents Association (GTRA) in Kirkliston.  Our Registered Tenant Organisation is very active and we work throughout the year.  When we finish one project then it’s the start of another. It’s the same with other RTOs and community groups throughout Edinburgh, but in out work with GTRA, we have found it challenging at times.

Although most RTOs and community groups have good committees, it’s often not enough.  That’s why they often depend on volunteers from the community to make things happen.  If they don’t get enough volunteers and helpers then events may need to be cancelled.  people often sit back and think to themselves, it’s ok, there will be enough people to cover certain events, but in many cases it’s a struggle to recruit volunteers.

You are being pushy by offering to help out in any way you can, even if it is just offering to help make a cup of tea.  RTOs like GTRA and community groups depend on volunteers in order to be successful.  If you have never done volunteering before then I would definitely recommend it.


Gateside Community Hub

Over the past couple of years, I have taken over the running of Gateside Tenants and Residents Association (GTRA).  Most of my time spent with GTRA has been trying to have a community hub built for the residents and boy what a slog it has been! If you thought it was an easy task think again!  If it wasn’t for GTRA’s Committee and all their hard work, this would have been an impossible task.

The costs alone for building the hub are three or four times what you would expect, so you have to take this into account.  The amount of phone calls, emails and meetings just to get this far is ridiculous, but it is a must.  I found this out the hard way.

The amount of planning takes up 50% of your time and the rest includes waiting for replies to phone calls and emails.  I must say the City of Edinburgh Council has been great with all their help along the way.  Help provided by the Council has involved paying for the temporary road and assisting in the planning process.  There was many a time when I thought what’s the point? And do I need all the stress?  At times I’ve been ready to pack it all in but I won’t let the residents down.  If they want a community hub they will get it.

The main problem we have encountered is funding in that most funders require a business address.  This is a problem as GTRA’s committee all work from home.  There is no point going to the big funders as the smaller funders have less stipulations on their forms.  However we have found that it’s still hard to meet the criteria of the funders, but we live in hope.

I was lucky enough to buy a cheap unit from a company in Glasgow for about half the price and designed the inside to suit our needs.  We have a lot of interest from local people wanting to become involved, including the Lord Provost who came to the site to help.

If I was asked to do this again, the answer would have to be no.  However I would be interested in helping another group.

GTRA would like to thank the following for their involvement in the Project:

  • OneCity Trust;
  • Edinburgh Tenants’ Federation
  • The City of Edinburgh Council;
  • Peter Strong, North West Locality Manager, City of Edinburgh Council;
  • P1 Contracts;
  • TESCO;
  • JD Cabins.

Paul Vaughan, Chair, GTRA