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Organising and deciding

Big Local workers: Their networks and support

Andy Curtis, senior researcher, delves into the Big Local workers survey results to explore the quality of Big Local workers’ relationships, networks and the support they receive.

In the summer, we surveyed Big Local workers for the first time. 151 workers responded. Following Lisa Marie’s blog, ‘Who are our Big Local workers?’, which reveals valuable feedback about their profile and role, I now consider our workers’ relationships and how they are supported in Big Local.

Relationships and networks

Workers often find themselves needing to make connections with a variety of people and organisations. Relationships are incredibly important in Big Local, both within the partnership and with other local stakeholders, such as local voluntary and community organisations and the local authority. These connections can help to maximise the work of the partnership.

As part of the survey, we were interested in both the frequency and the quality of contact between workers and others in Big Local. Depending on their role, it can be important for workers not to be isolated and have interactions with key players in their local area.

We asked workers if they had regular contact with the Big Local partnership and residents. At least 80%, (between 121-129 workers), have frequent contact with the chair and other members of the Big Local partnership. Over two thirds also have frequent contact with other residents in the area. This echoes the findings outlined in Lisa Marie’s blog on the survey, with four out of five respondents saying they do face-to-face work with the community. In terms of the quality of these relations, most have a good relationship with their Big Local partnership, (94% or 140 respondents).

It is also important to build relationships between the partnership and other organisations.Two workers described building these kinds of links as:


“…organising a number of local events and creating networks and relationships with key community champions and external partners”

“…support (for) the Partnership, help them to develop strong networks and (link) them with relevant agencies”


Workers tended to have a good relationship with local voluntary and community groups, (94% or 140 respondents). Again, there were good relationships with the local authority, with 80% telling us they had a strong relationship with local authority officers and councillors.


So Big Local workers appear to be working hard at being well-connected. But what about the support the workers themselves receive?


Support for workers

The management and support arrangements for Big Local workers are decided at an area level and there is no common worker role across the 150 Big Local areas. For example, most are employed by an organisation, but some are self-employed. But most, (81% or 118 workers), have a line manager, or the equivalent if self-employed, and nearly (74% or 112 workers), have regular meetings with someone to discuss their work and progress.

The majority of workers, (81% or 117 workers), also tended to feel well supported by the organisation that employs or contracts them. Over 75%, between 114-128 workers, said they felt well supported by their Big Local chair, partnership and the Big Local rep.


Despite these different arrangements, on the whole workers seem to have clarity about what their role entails. Most know what is expected of them, (91% or 136 workers), and are clear about their roles and responsibilities, (87% or 129 workers).


Next steps

We are currently analysing the survey in more detail to see whether there are important differences in the experience of workers depending on whether they are a resident in the area or not; are an employee or self-employed; and whether their role is mainly focused on community development or engagement. This work will further help us in our understanding of workers and their support needs.