Opening up the conversation
From the project research team at IVAR
Today we share with you the latest findings from our research into how communities can have power and authority over their lives and the areas where they live. So far, our researchers have travelled from Bristol to Newcastle in pursuit of the answer to one question: how can communities become empowered?
Three things people told us:
- Communities can only become powerful if they have the right information about the issues that are disempowering them in the first place. They need opportunities to learn about power, politics and the economy.
- Armed with this knowledge, communities need spaces to encounter one another and share, discuss, reflect on and debate the issues that affect them.
- The relationship between government and communities is changing, and ‘cuts have forced local authorities to engage with communities about the future of services’. This has caused the idea of community engagement to morph into preparing communities to take on responsibility for things central and local government can no longer do for them; whereas, not too long ago, a great deal of community development was supporting communities in partnerships.
The full interim report includes more information on all of the above, summarising points raised in the research and what people think needs to happen. We also share the questions we would like to explore in the next phase of the research, which will see us visiting Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To introduce this work, we asked Leila Baker to share her reflections on the story so far and thoughts on how the research might develop.
Read the blog by Leila Baker, head of research at IVAR.