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Community spirit

Our Bigger Story hits 80

This month is a landmark for the long term multi-media evaluation of Big Local, Our Bigger Story (OBS). The evaluation has hit 80, 80 films that is – about Big Local.

Yes, as you would expect with an evaluation there are written reports. To date, these have provided an overview of developments in Big Local areas as well as discussing issues which are important to the 15 areas the evaluation is working with – for example, what does resident-led actually mean, what does community leadership look like and what do external agencies think about Big Local ‘from the outside in’. 

Then, there are the films recorded over five years – all 80 of them. So, what are they about? The aim of OBS is to record change in 15 Big Local areas across England – and film is a powerful way of capturing what is changing, such as:  

  • physical and environmental change – such as new play park or new housing and other facilities 
  • the impact of projects supported by Big Local areas 
  • significant events in the community and celebrations of community events   
  • the differences Big Local is making in the lives of local residents 
  • evidence of the hard issues Big Local areas are trying to address, such as tackling local drugs and alcohol issues 
  • the way Big Local works: how do partnerships make decisions? How are tensions or, indeed, conflicts, addressed? How do Big Local areas engage with the wider community? Who holds the power locally and what motivates people to get involved? 

In addition to those 80 films, available on the OBS vimeo channel, Big Local areas can post information on a timeline recording what is important to them. These may be written reportsphotographs of events ranging from playschemes to local festivals or they may also be films and podcasts.  

Increasingly the OBS team is using film as a way of getting Big Local partners to reflect and learn. After all, it’s easy to forget. What was our Big Local area like five, or even three, years ago? Who was involved all those years ago – and has that changed? Were those buildings always there? How has the environment changed and crucially, what has changed for local people? 

“We came away totally thrilled that ‘we’ had been selected…oh so long ago…to be one of the 15 and do sincerely hope that the project continues…yes, selfishly, because ‘we’ get so much out of it in the way of review and reflection but also, we do hope, for the good and benefit of Local Trust in evaluating and promoting this kind of approach to delivery in communities that has real influence in local and wider political thinking about the power of ‘local’ and the ‘importance of community’ and the resilience and vitality of ‘residents.’” Barbara Arrandale, Grassland Hasmoor Big Local 

For further information on OBS, the longitudinal multimedia evaluation of Big Local visit or contact Mandy Wilson or Angus McCabe