Legacy - what does it mean to Big Local?
Jeremy Yung, senior researcher at Local Trust, outlines some of the key ideas and themes revealed in our latest report ‘The legacy of Big Local’
What’s all this about legacy?
Who could forget the summer of 2012? For 28 days Great Britain basked in the success, both on and off the playing fields, of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. Where were you on Super Saturday when team GB brought home six gold medals? Who could forget Usain Bolt’s sprints to three gold medals?
However, these euphoric moments only represented one month of a £9 billion investment -an excessive cost for such a short event. To justify the spend, organisers pitched the ‘legacy’ of the games for Great Britain and particularly for East London. These games would inspire a new sporting generation while also revitalising a part of London long neglected. While there is still much debate about the ‘legacy’ of the Olympics, there is no doubt that it brought to the forefront this idea of what remains after – what is the ‘legacy’?
What does this have to do with Big Local?
Big Local may not have £9 billion, but what it does have is 150 committed and active communities all in the process of spending £1 million to deliver what they themselves have identified as ways to make their communities an even better place to live. Big Local areas are essentially in the middle of their own Olympics - building or improving local infrastructure, growing the sense of community and encouraging active participation. The difference isn’t just the amount of money but also that Big Local areas have time – much more time. In fact, they have until 2026 to spend their £1 million and determine their own legacy.
With this in mind, Local Trust conducted a small piece of research on this subject. We visited five Big Local areas closest to the end of their £1 million to find out how they view their legacy and how they are planning for it.
What does a Big Local legacy look like?
Before we even started the research, we first needed a definition of legacy in the Big Local context. We defined legacy as “what remains after the £1 million”.
This definition, in line with the Big Local ethos, gives areas the space to determine their own, more specific definition of legacy, while also encouraging them to consider the difference they have already made while also looking ahead beyond the £1 million.
So, what did we find?
The research found that, while it was difficult for areas to at times articulate their legacy and how they were planning for it, it was clear they all, in fact, had a vision about where they wanted their legacy to be. Specifically, the research found that Big Local areas saw their legacy as a combination of many things. We have grouped them into five key themes. These are:
- Strengthening civil society
- Bringing the community together
- Developing residents’ skills and confidence
- Investing in future generations
- Sustaining activities
In addition, the research found the extent to which Big Local areas in the study felt they had planned for the legacy varied. While some Big Local areas felt that they had done little to formally plan for the period after Big Local finished, all five had already taken steps to engage with the issue.
You can read in detail about the five themes and what Big Local areas are doing about legacy in the full report.
On the back of this research, we’ve introduced a new learning cluster for Big Local areas about legacy. This new legacy learning cluster will start in March 2018 and will bring Big Local areas together to share learning, hear inspiring stories, motivate one another to build skills and mix with experts that can help with legacy thinking and planning.
Whether you are very early in your Big Local journey or almost near the end of your million, this learning cluster is open to all 150 Big Local areas. It is never too late or too early to think about and plan for the legacy of your Big Local.