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Building community leadership

17 Aug 2023

Learning from the Community Leadership Academy (CLA)

Building community leadership report cover

Building community leadership is the final report from a three-year evaluation of the Community Leadership Academy (CLA). The academy has provided structured support for community-led change as part of the Big Local programme and beyond, while deepening our understanding of community leadership.

Among its impacts, the CLA supported participants during times of national crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis as well as helping people to realise their personal legacies and the difference they hope to make individually in their communities.

Ultimately, this report has found that the CLA has made a difference not only to individuals, but also to Big Local partnerships and their wider communities.

More specifically, individuals who participated in the CLA saw their confidence increase and many of them also overcame feelings of imposter syndrome. Big Local partnerships recorded examples of a number of positive changes because of the CLA, including an increase in the effectiveness of meetings and more open and inclusive conversations.

In terms of how the wider community benefitted, the report shares examples of participants who said they went on to other jobs and roles in the community because of the CLA.

I am more empowered to initiate the change I would like to see in the community. I now have a better idea of how to mobilise people who have a shared cause as well as larger organisations that could potentially support such movements.”

CLA participant

The CLA has been successful in enabling people who don’t ordinarily identify as leaders to achieve their potential. It has demonstrated that tailored and focused support to individual community leaders can transform their confidence and understanding of the leadership role, enabling them to create and take up opportunities for positive community change.

Divided into three parts, this report explores:

  • learning from the programme’s design and delivery
  • the impact of the programme on participants, Big Local partnerships and wider communities
  • conclusions for other community leadership initiatives to take away.

Further insights from the CLA