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About Big Local

Significant change in any place takes time and has to be founded on and around the people who live there

In terms of scale, time horizon and ethos, nothing like Big Local has ever existed. Designed from the outset to be radically different from other funding programmes, at the heart of Big Local is a vision of empowered, resilient, dynamic, asset-rich communities making their own decisions on what is best for their area.

This short film is based on a poem created and performed by Tony Walsh aka Longfella at Big Local Connects 2018 – © Longfella Ltd 2019

Providing at least £1m to each of 150 communities in England, Big Local is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and managed by Local Trust. Nationally we work with a range of partners to deliver Big Local, building on the skills and experiences of others to provide expert advice and support for residents.

Different by design

In contrast to conventional top down, time-limited, project-led funding, the funding awarded to each Big Local area was provided on the basis that it can be spent over 10-15 years at the communities’ own chosen pace, and on their own plans and priorities.

Big Local was established with a number of core key features that make it different from other programmes. It is:

  • Long term – providing certainty and continuity, over 10-15 years
  • Resident-led – working directly with individuals living, working, studying and playing in areas rather than through organisations; building confidence and capacity amongst those wanting to make a difference to their community and their local area
  • Non-prescriptive – enabling residents to spend on their own terms and in their own time, on the projects they judge to be most important to them
  • Patient and non-judgemental – giving communities the time and opportunity to learn, make mistakes, resolve disagreements and overcome challenges for themselves, on their way to achieving their ambitions
  • Accompanied by flexible and responsive support – to help communities to build the confidence and capability to make the most of the opportunities available to them, whilst not constraining their own ambition and initiative

Our approach is designed to ensure residents time and energy is spent on the things that make a lasting difference to people and communities. The programme structure maintains this core ethos while ensuring appropriate systems and checks are in place to account for funding. Read more about our approach to monitoring Big Local.

Big Local outcomes

The outcomes set for Big Local at its outset were deliberately broad:

  • Communities will be better able to identify local needs and take action in response to them.
  • People will have increased skills and confidence, so that they continue to identify and respond to needs in the future.
  • The community will make a difference to the needs it prioritises.
  • People will feel that their area is an even better place to live.

These provide maximum scope for communities to set their own priorities.  To help them make the most of their opportunity, residents involved in Big Local have been supported in developing and delivering their plans by an extensive programme of training, networking and light-touch on the ground support, provided by Local Trust and its partners.

In 2019 Big Local areas reached the halfway point in their 10-15 year spending plans. To mark this milestone we published The halfway point report which shares some of the valuable knowledge gained from these brilliant communities.

Find out what’s happening across 150 Big Local areas and how we support communities to Make it Happen.