In the fourth of a series of blogs about residents’ experiences of Big Local, Jeremy Yung looks at Big Local partnerships and whether it is only the numbers that matter. Click to read the first, second and third blog in the series.
By Jeremy Yung, Research and learning co-ordinator, Local Trust
There are almost 2,000 partnership members across all 150 Big Local areas. This is an average of 13 members per partnership which is well over the minimum eight required by the Big Local programme. In fact, 88% of partnerships meet or exceed the programme’s criteria of having a minimum of eight people, the majority of which must be residents.
Are partnerships attracting more people?
By sheer numbers, yes, there are more people on partnerships. In 2015 and 2016 we reviewed Big Local partnerships and out of the 132 areas with reviews from both years, 74 partnerships (56%) got bigger, while 29 (22%) got smaller.
Overall there has been an increase of 128 people in the partnership, with 577 new people joining and 449 leaving.
Partnerships were also successful at retaining their members, and kept most of their members between 2015 and 2016. Almost three-quarters (72%) who were on partnerships in 2015 stayed on them in 2016.
But there’s more to it than just numbers
While it’s great to see so many people involved, this does not mean they are satisfied with the make up or size of their partnerships. In fact, almost seven out of ten partnership members who answered our survey told us that they think their partnership relies too much on a small group of people.
This over-reliance on a small group may explain why an overwhelming number of members want more people involved in their partnerships. In fact, almost all respondents in our survey wanted more people to get involved with the partnership.
Members didn’t simply want more people on the partnership but some commented that they wanted better representation from different parts of the community, age groups or minority communities.
‘More active involvement of a wider cross-section of residents’
‘We need more ethnic groups to become involved in our activities and more young adults joining the board’
What does this mean?
Partnerships do attract new people but not as many as members would like. While retaining members isn’t a major problem, partnerships continue to struggle to get new people, especially people from different parts of the community, age groups and minority groups.
This picture is just a summary of what Big Local partnerships look like. Not all partnerships are alike and each has their own experiences. Some partnerships kept all of their members between 2015 and 2016, whilst others lost more than half. Others doubled in size! One size, really does not fit all.
What is your experience with your partnership? How did you recruit more people? How did you get people from different parts of the community to get involved? Tell us about your experiences with getting people on your partnerships and how Local Trust can support you. Drop us an email or contact us on Facebook or Twitter using #BigLocal.
The figures and quotes in this blog are taken from the 2015 and 2016 Big Local partnership review and 2016 Big Local partnership member survey. If you are interested in finding out more about the results from these, please contact Jeremy Yung by emailing email@example.com