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Communities can be powerful – but they need support

Press release from Local Trust and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR)

July 2018

Published today, The Future for Communities: Perspectives on power shares findings from an 18 month research project asking ‘What needs to happen for communities to feel and be more powerful in the future?'. The report paints a picture of strong, resourceful communities affected by the challenges of poverty, transience and isolation; but also people and places where resilience and hope offer the prospect of positive transformation and change. In particular, it highlights the need for sustained investment in supporting community-level infrastructure – places to meet, organisations to bring people together and people to facilitate engagement.

The research team held three dialogues to scope the issues, to hear from people in the nations and regions of the UK and to talk with people living and working locally in four places. The issues that kept coming up in their conversations were:

  • Poverty. Poverty including in-work poverty is affecting people’s capacity to get involved. How will the changing job market of insecure work affect people’s engagement in the future?
  • Transience. Changes in the housing market are reshaping more and more communities. Population change can bring new life and dynamism. But it can also bring insecurity. What does community mean for people who may not be able to put down any roots?
  • Fragmentation. Divisions and distrust within diverse communities make them less powerful. In a changing world, can place still be a source of strength to everyone who lives there? And how do we maximise the benefits of our diverse society?
  • Isolation. Public spaces are shrinking. Where are the spaces where people can meet, talk and learn about each other? Will people increasingly retreat into their own homes and into virtual spaces?
  • Democracy. Much has been written about alienation from politics, especially in the poorest places. Can we find new ways of doing politics that will reenergise our democracy?

The report explores each of these issues, and concludes that communities and those who work with them have responded with commitment and energy to the challenges they face. They now need policies and investment that recognise the disadvantages that these communities bear and that confront lazy and discriminatory assumptions about the people who live there. Society – government, business and wider civil society – needs to get behind them.

The research was commissioned by Local Trust, carried out by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR), and funded by the Community Development Foundation (CDF) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

@IVAR_UK | www.ivar.org.uk

@LocalTrust | www.localtrust.org.uk

Notes to Editors

For further information, contact:

Jessica Wenban-Smith, Head of Communications at Local Trust
020 3588 0577 | 07751 836346

Emily Dyson, Head of Communications at IVAR
0207 921 2945 | 07788 709549

About the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR)

We are an independent research charity that works closely with organisations that are striving for social change. From the very small that directly support the most vulnerable in their local communities, to those that work nationally – across the voluntary, public and funding sectors. We use research to develop practical responses to the challenges faced and create opportunities for people to learn from our findings. We bring to the project over 17 years’ worth of research experience and a network of cross-sector, multi-disciplinary relationships.

About Local Trust

Local Trust was established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a unique programme that puts residents across the country in control of decisions about their own lives and neighbourhoods. In 2016 CDF and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation provided Local Trust with funds for a major research project to explore Empowered Communities in the 2020s. Visit www.localtrust.org.uk.

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