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Building skills to revive 12 Big Local neighbourhoods on the English coastline

A new partnership between NEF [1] and Local Trust [2] will work with residents from up to 12 Big Local areas [3] on the English coastline to hone community leadership skills and develop expertise in resident-led economic revival.

A structured, year-long programme of face-to-face and virtual group sessions will ask participating residents to ‘learn by doing’. Residents will be supported and challenged to draw lessons from previous successes and failures, try out new ideas and share their real problems with the group for questioning and feedback. The aim is to forge a strong network of resident leaders located in coastal economies who are stimulating economic renewal through ambitious and effective community activity.

Through the course of the learning programme each community will develop a bespoke plan to boost the local economy, and a parallel research project will gather findings to share with other Big Local areas and coastal communities.

The programme is one of a wider series of new learning and networking opportunities [4] being launched by Local Trust in 2018, which will support Big Local areas to form ‘learning clusters’ and develop community leadership on key topics including youth violence, legacy, better homes and building homes.

Fernanda Balata, Senior Programme Lead for Coastal Economies at the New Economics Foundation, said:

“Coastal communities can really benefit from sharing more experiences and solutions to the complex, and often unique, challenges they face. Their geography, compounded by a long-term trend of social and economic decline, make them some of the most vulnerable areas in the country to future economic and environmental shocks.

“Coastal communities are not all the same, but they are connected by a unique asset: the sea. This programme will support Big Local areas to grow together in confidence, knowledge, and skills and to help each other harness the unique opportunities provided by their coastal setting.”

Rachel Rowney, Local Trust’s director of programmes, said:

“Residents in Big Local areas are delivering a wide range of activities that tackle long term economic decline in coastal communities but investment in community leadership is widely overlooked,” says Rachel Rowney, Local Trust’s director of programmes. “Our partnership with NEF is part of a new approach to learning and networking in Big Local areas. We want to support residents build on their expertise, learn from each other, and strengthen their ability to deliver local transformation.”

NEF and Local Trust will approach Big Local areas in coastal locations by the end of January 2018 and invite them to find out more.

Notes for editors

[1] The New Economics Foundation (NEF) is the UK’s only people-powered think tank. The Foundation works to build a new economy where people really take control. In 2018, NEF is launching the UK’s first Centre for Coastal Economies, with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The Centre will drive forward and help implement the Blue New Deal action plan. Big Local areas’ experiences will become a part of a broader network of coastal communities working to contribute to a much-needed economic transformation around the UK coast. Visit the website.

[2] Local Trust was established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a unique programme that puts residents across the country in control of decisions about their own lives and neighbourhoods. Funded by a £217m 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. Visit

[3] Of 150 communities delivering Big Local, 26 have been identified as coastal economies and are eligible to take part in the learning programme. Depending on demand, the expectation is that 8-12 Big Local areas will participate.

[4] Local Trust’s approach to delivering learning and networking opportunities for Big Local areas has been refreshed for 2018 and will increasingly foster the skills, enthusiasm and connections between Big Locals.