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Influences on the development of Big Local areas 2014-15

6 Nov 2015

Research by the Community Development Foundation

The Community Development Foundation (CDF) undertook research on behalf of Local Trust to identify what is influencing the progress of Big Local areas. The research, undertaken in 2014-15, aims to help Big Local areas across the country make progress and inform the support provided to them by Local Trust and its partners.

The research involved visits and interviews to 15 Big Local areas and a survey sent
to key residents in all 150 Big Local areas. There was evidence that some areas
are starting to meet the aims of the Big Local programme, namely:

  • areas have a plan in place that has identified local needs and they are building up
    partnerships with individuals and organisations to address these
  • residents are increasingly taking the lead in Big Local and are developing skills and
    confidence as a result
  • where progress has been made, particularly through tangible changes like the
    development of community buildings, residents are starting to feel they are
    making a difference
  • residents report knowing more about their area, are engaging with more of the community and
    are delivering tangible changes.

No matter what stage a Big Local area is at, whether they are getting started,
preparing a plan or delivering a plan, there are three main challenges which
hinder their progress:

  • involving residents from the wider community
  • accessing support needed
  • understanding the Big Local process.

Possible solutions to these issues are detailed in the report, including:

  • ways of increasing involvement
  • moving into shared leadership and understanding the different roles that help shared leadership succeed
  • understanding the Big Local process.

Though the Big Local journey may be challenging, particularly in terms of getting people
involved, there is evidence of increasing awareness, engagement and involvement from the wider community. Residents are identifying the needs of their community and taking action in response to them through the support of those around them. This support includes other residents, the rep, the locally trusted organisation, local organisations and, quite often, a worker. Residents are growing in skills and confidence to increasingly take the lead in Big Local and remain very committed to it. This is because of their continued passion to make a difference to their area and make it an even better place for all who live there.