Priority Areas

Priority Areas Logo

A Priority Area is a community where deprivation rates fall within the bottom 5% across all of the social and economic indicators. The Church currently designates 64 congregations as Priority Areas.

How do we determine which areas are Priority Areas?

Our Priority Areas Committee, working closely with our Church statistician, examined the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). The SIMD considers seven domains of deprivation: income, education, employment, health, crime, housing, and access to amenities. Using this information, we identified the 5% of parishes with the highest concentration of deprivation.

We also identified 112 parishes across Scotland who have part of their population in the 5% most deprived areas. These parishes, which appear on the Priority Areas Supplementary List, will also receive support from our Priority Areas team.

The latest update to the SIMD, in 2020, indicated that 13 of the 64 parishes on our Priority Areas list have moved out of the top 5% most deprived. We will, however, continue to support these parishes via our Priority Areas programmes as they transition off the list in May 2023.

More information on how we determine which areas are Priority Areas, as well as the full list of Priority Areas, the Supplementary List, and the full congregational data for all the parishes in Scotland are available on our Priority Areas List page.

What does being a Priority Area mean?

Parishes in priority areas are offered a range of support and opportunities, including:

  • Staff advice, consultancy, and regular contact
  • Membership of the network with other Priority Areas. The network meets once a week via Zoom for the Wee Conversation to offer mutual support and to share ideas and experience.
  • Invitation to our annual conference, the Big Conversation, and all other conferences
  • Participation in consultations on the development of new and existing programmes
  • Access to the Priority Areas Learning Programme
  • Regular online communication via email and through our newsletter
  • Support to help Priority Areas better utilise social media and the web

Priority Areas have also, historically, been accorded double weighting within a presbytery's plan. This allows for additional staffing (usually an MDS post) to be deployed in Priority Areas to develop work with the congregation and community.

Priority Areas Supplementary List

Cranhill Development Trust
Cranhill Development Trust is a community project which has been helping to tackle issues around employment in the east end of Glasgow.

Parishes on the Supplementary List also receive support from the Priority Areas team. This includes:

  • Access to the Priority Areas Learning Programme
  • The opportunity to take part in the weekly Wee Conversation
  • Invitation to the Big Conversation and other events
  • Participation in consultations on the development of new and existing programmes
  • The opportunity to sign up for e-communications (newsletter and emails).

Further details about the programmes offered to Priority Areas and the Supplementary List are available on our Programmes page.

Partner agencies

We work with several partner agencies to develop and deliver Priority Areas programmes. These partners include:

Contact us

If you have any questions or would like more information about Priority Areas and our work, please feel free to get in touch: