Ensuring there's a future for communities

Sustainable economic development for disadvantaged communities requires significant resources from funders like us

Suzanne Perry

Research Officer. Power to Change

Last Tuesday, our Research Officer, Suzanne, went along to the launch of a new research report from Local Trust and the Institute of Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) – ‘The Future for Communities: Perspectives on Power‘. Here’s what she took away from the event…

There was a buzz in the Conference Room at Coin Street Community Centre last Tuesday when Local Trust and IVAR welcomed a range of attendees to the launch of their latest research into the current and post-2020 situation for disadvantaged communities in the country.

The findings of the research were brought out through five key themes, which highlighted the state of communities today and their direction in the coming years:

Poverty: For very disadvantaged communities sustainable development has to come, in part, from outside communities themselves. This could come in the form of grants from trusts such as Power to Change or through commissioning models like those in Preston which enable community businesses to benefit from the local authority’s efforts to spend locally.

Transience: Dynamic population change impacts upon the cost of and insecurity in housing. By developing affordable housing near the city centre, Bristol Community Land Trust, are a key example of a community business trying to tackle this challenge.

Fragmentation: Diversity of identities within communities can be a good thing, but quite often it can make people feel disconnected. Simple initiatives for bringing people together such as gardening, food and inter-generational activities can spark conversations between people who may not ordinarily get together.

Isolation: The loss of spaces for community life to take place contributes to people’s isolation. Village halls such as Aylesham Community Village Hall near Dover are helping to build back up the social infrastructure needed to bring communities together.

Democracy: Participants in the research reflected that the current, centralised, political system was not relevant to the realities their communities face. Space is needed for meaningful, grown-up conversations to take place where different points of view can be heard and discussed in order to take matters forward. This needs to exist alongside central Government and advocacy bodies to fight alongside communities.

The research reflects Power to Change’s positions on place (the area they live is of central importance to them, even in very deprived neighbourhoods), and power (power is collective and when people come together, great things can happen). Because of this, it struck me that Power to Change has a central role to play in ensuring the survival and flourishing of disadvantaged communities.

We believe that community businesses make for better places and provide an ideal solution for economic development and regeneration in deprived areas. With such poverty, sustainable economic development for disadvantaged communities requires significant resources and advocacy from funders like us and other sector bodies.

To create empowered and vibrant communities over the next ten years, this research is well worth a read. Find out more on the Local Trust website.