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Organising and deciding

Who are our Big Local workers?

Lisa-Marie Giquel, our research assistant, shines light on findings from the Big Local workers’ survey 2018 in the first of two blogs about this valuable research.

For years, Big Local areas have paid people to support them to deliver their plans locally. We have met, visited and had contact with lots of Big Local workers over the years and recognise that as the programme has progressed, workers have become an increasingly important part of the Big Local story.

However, after learning through reps that the majority of areas had at least one paid worker (136 areas to be exact) and that there are at least 250 workers across the whole programme, it was clear we knew very little about workers as a group and what it was like for them working on Big Local.

“This summer, we surveyed Big Local’s paid workers to learn more about them.”

Big Local workers profile

Our experience is that workers tend to be an equal mix of residents and non-residents. From the survey, we learned with a little surprise that only 27% (40) are residents in the area that they work in. However as had been expected, the majority of workers are employees of an organisation (84% or 127 workers) and most of these are employees of an LTO (85% or 108 workers). Only 15% of workers (22) consider themselves self-employed.

There were some interesting discussions about this at our
recent learning event for workers and LTOs (Working Better Together),
specifically how difficult it can be for workers who live in Big Local areas to
maintain a healthy work/life balance and boundaries. On the other hand, some
workers also raised the challenge of not being residents in the Big Local area,
whilst working on a resident-led programme.

Another finding was that most workers were also new to Big Local, with no previous involvement in the programme. Perhaps this is not a surprise as the majority of workers are not residents in Big Local areas. The 31% of workers (47) who were involved in Big Local previous to becoming workers were involved in a number of ways, including being on the Big Local partnership (20), volunteering for Big Local (12) and being employees of a Big Local LTO (12).

Yet, regardless of whether or not they had
“experience” with Big Local before, the majority of workers are
experienced in their roles, with 73% (109) having worked or volunteered in a
similar role before.

What does the worker’s role involve?

It was important for us to understand the roles workers have and the work they do. We asked a number of questions in the survey to try and explore this, focusing on what the majority of their role involved, their tasks and the purpose of their role. We discovered that:

  • 39% (58) focus on community development or engagement
  • 20% (30) focus on administration
  • 15% (22) spend the majority of their time delivering projects
  • 13% (19) concentrate on management tasks

However, when asked about the main tasks they performed in their role (and where workers could choose more than one) we learned that regardless of a worker’s job title or the purpose of their role, more than 70% of workers carry out the same tasks.

These include:

  • 86% (129) support the partnership including helping to develop the plan, reviewing the plan, supporting partnership meetings or members, budgeting and monitoring spend
  • 83% (124) do face to face work with the community such as engaging residents and groups, consulting the community, delivering activities and projects, building relationships and networks
  • 75% (113) provide other support in the delivery of the plan this can include things like project management, risk assessments and trouble shooting.

What next?

We presented key findings from the survey at the Working Better Together event to share what we learned and to continue the conversation with workers about how they could be better supported. Look out for more findings from the survey in the next newsletter where we will share what we learned about their relationships within Big Local and how they are supported.

In the meantime, did you also know that…?

  • 27 – is the average number of hours worked per week
  • 72% (103) are female
  • 87% (124) are white
  • 58% (84) are aged 45 or older
  • 33% are members of a Big Local partnership*

The survey findings are based on 151 completed responses to the Big Local workers’ survey 2018. Page updated 14 December 2018.

*[Note: A paid worker who is also a voting member or decision maker on a Big Local partnership is a conflict of interest. For Local Trust’s guidance on paid workers on Big Local partnerships, please refer to the ‘conflicts of interest’ section of the Big Local partnership guidance].