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Plans and activities
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Together we plan!

Inspiration, reflection and activities for a bright Big Local future

This handbook offers useful approaches to support your Big Local partnership in developing and planning its work during the COVID-19 crisis and future uncertainty.

It aims to support you and those working with you to reflect on what you have learned so far
in different ways:

  • Focus outwards and look at what you have learned about your community and ways of
    working during COVID-19.
  • Focus inwards and think about the needs of your partnership, building your strengths and skills in the way you work.
  •  Explore how you can use what you have learned to make plans for the future which meet new community needs.

Download handbook



Section 1

How are Big Local partnerships responding to COVID-19?

Our conversations with Big Local partnerships and review of national research suggest that it is useful to take two perspectives in relation to responses and how to plan for the future:

What is going on in communities?
How has COVID-19 changed the way in which Big Local partnerships work?

What is going on in communities?

Themes are emerging that are highly relevant to Big Local areas as local responses are further
developed. Some questions are identified to frame these themes within the Big Local context.

Digital exclusion and isolation
Mental health
Green spaces
Food and food poverty
Transport connectivity

Changes to how we work, engage and respond to community need

These things are less tangible and more about the way we do things. Themes that seem
to be emerging from our engagement with Big Local areas and further research are:

Relationships and connections
Power and boldness
Finding out what the community needs
What this means for Big Local areas

Key roles played by Big Local areas during lockdown


We have brought together examples of how Big Local areas have responded and adapted
their plans in light of the pandemic as a resource for all areas – to share learning and
encourage new ways of thinking about common challenges.

We have discovered further evidence of the themes identified in Local Trust’s recent research
into The role of Big Local partnerships during lockdown. Partnerships have often played one or
more of these key roles:

Other types of activities across more than one Big Local area

Success has also relied on using the flexibility of the Big Local programme to adjust and vary
plans and budget allocation. Many partnerships reported plan reviews coming up or being
deferred. Partnerships highlighted a need for community consultation and engagement to better understand the changing needs in their community.

We have used the three categories above to group some responses from Big Local areas. They are a helpful way of seeing the different types of response, and, of course, there is lots of other activity happening that we didn’t hear about. If your Big Local area has an inspiring story to share, please update us on Workplace.

Case studies

DY10 Big Local community recovery planning
Marsh and Micklefield go online
SO18 Big Local collaborates

Section 2

This section is intended to help your Big Local partnership look at what you have learned
about your community and your partnership throughout the pandemic – using the themes
identified in Section 1 – and to use what you know to shape plans.

How to use this handbook – three top tips:

1. Build it in
2. Build the skills
3. Build your own
A note for reps

In this action-focused section of the handbook you will see:

  1. A checklist of questions to investigate how your partnership is responding to the current situation
  2. A checklist of questions to find out what you know about your community in the light of COVID-19
  3. Activities to help you plan for the future
Questions about your partnership
Questions about your community and your plan
Activities to help you plan for the future
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
Stop, start, change
Scenarios – which direction might we go in?
Describing a vision of a perfect scenario

Further reading

  • Digital Toolkit – Working online doesn’t need to be difficult: This interactive guide offers quick and easy steps you can take and tools you can use to get the most out of these online resources – all low-cost and high impact.
  • Digital Pathway – COVID-19 has accelerated a trend towards digital that was already in motion. Our guide to help you stay connected in an increasingly digitised world.