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Gabriel Davies, Local Trust’s programme coordinator, shares how learning from external support piloted to Big Locals in 2018 has benefited both the communities involved and the partners who worked with them.

Over the last year, we have seen more than 40 Big Local areas partner with a new range of organisations to develop and deliver an exciting and hugely varied range projects.

So it’s a big and exciting step for those opportunities to become more widely available, with each partner able to open their offer to all 150 Big Local areas.

  • Shared Assets brings expertise on new models of land management that are financially sustainable and create livelihoods and shared public spaces in Big Local areas like Par Bay.
  • Media Trust has helped Big Local partnerships like Boston communicate more effectively with their audiences and better tell their story, ensuring they get the credit they deserve.
  • Campaign for Better Transport brings deep understanding on community transport and support residents in Big Local areas like Ramsey to better analyse the transport issues and find ways to solve them.
  • StreetGames is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about community-led sports initiatives, which have helped Big Local partnerships like Dyke House engage and train young people in fun and active sports programmes.

This work has helped Big Local partnerships learn and deliver for their areas. It has also been a two-way conversation with Local Trust’s partners learning much about working with resident decision makers in the communities that make up Big Local. These new offers have been put together to reflect this conversation and to respond to what Big Local partnerships have told us works and what doesn’t.

Every partner has learned to adapt to the unique rhythm of Big Local, working around volunteers’ demanding schedules and the participatory cycle of partnership meetings. From being patient during busy periods to being ready to sprint and keep up with the Big Local partnership when momentum picks up.

Whoever they are, the support partner’s approach needs to be flexible and tailored to each specific Big Local context, with residents taking the lead in deciding what support looks like. This has been achieved using menus of support that let Big Local areas pick what works for them and avoids a one-size-fits all kind of offer.

In the new support offer, each partner will present what they can do face-to-face over extended early conversations, to make sure the offer is the right fit for each Big Local area.

All this support will require match funding from Big Local partnerships, so we can reach as many interested Big Local areas as possible. However, Local Trust will cover the cost of the early conversations, meaning that partnerships can meet the support partner and feel confident the support on offer will work well in their area before making a financial commitment. The support will be available over the next two years, opening to Big Local areas every 6 months, so that they can express interest when the time is right for them.

Through this work Local Trust aims to broaden the networks that Big Local areas are a part of, and build the confidence and capacity of Big Local partnerships for working with different kinds of partner organisations. It’s important to remember though, that alongside the excitement about making this support available, everyone involved recognises that this announcement isn’t really about the partner organisations, it’s about supporting Big Locals to be the best they can for the communities they live and work in.

Big Local areas can access specialist new support from 4 partnerships up until 2021

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