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Long term research project Our Bigger Story captures residents’ experiences of Big Local in films, podcasts, photographs and diaries

A short film about what motivates residents to volunteer in their community will be posted on the Our Bigger Story website [1] this month (May 2018). The film is the fiftieth to be added to site, which hosts a unique and growing digital archive gathered by Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham [2]. Our Bigger Story is the only long term multi-media study of the £200m Big Local programme run by Local Trust [3].

The 50th film focuses on a group of volunteers from the Derbyshire villages of Grassmoor and Hasland, and how they are involving other residents in a range of local projects. Grassland Hasmoor Big Local (combining the names of the two villages) is one of 15 Big Local areas taking part in Our Bigger Story.

The Our Bigger Story website includes over 400 news and related stories capturing change uploaded by the 15 areas as well as reports on Big Local progress. Some of the local stories featured include:

  • Diary Lines – in which residents reflect on their experiences of being Big Local partners
  • a film about the outcomes of Big Local activity
  • 5 short films about key Big Local themes including leadership, influence, managing expectations and how Big Local areas build legacy and sustainability.

Mandy Wilson, Research Associate, from TSRC said: “Our Bigger Story is different from what we usually see in an evaluation. Alongside traditional research, we are experimenting with films, podcasts, photographs and diaries which document the Big Local process over time, from the bottom up. Seeing and hearing these accounts through film can create a more powerful, vivid and believable sense of real life than simply words on a page. It brings evaluation to life and offers new ways for people to tell their stories, and, in time, to understand and appreciate change in their communities.”

Big Local is a unique programme that puts residents across the country in control of decisions about their own lives and neighbourhoods. Funded by a £200m endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund – the largest ever single commitment of lottery funds – it provides in excess of £1m of long-term funding over 10-15 years to each of 150 local communities, many of which face major social and economic challenges but have missed out in the past from accessing their fair share of statutory and lottery funds in the past.



[1] About OBS Our Bigger Story is a multimedia evaluation of Big Local which aims to record positive change in Big Local areas and understand how those changes come about and how they can be sustained.

[2] About TSRC The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) aims to enhance our knowledge of the sector through independent and critical research, giving us a better understanding of the value of the sector and how this can be maximised.

[3] Local Trust is a place-based funder working with 150 Big Local areas, where people are making their communities even better places to live.