The Community Hub Handbook: Step-by-step guide seeks secure future for neighbourhood superstars

Packed with information, case studies, checklists, templates and practical tools, The Community Hub Handbook[1] – published today– is a new, free resource that sets out how to run a thriving community hub and ensure its future is secure.

Community hubs are neighbourhood superstars that foster togetherness through the huge range of social events, activities and services they offer. Successful hubs have the power to transform lives: recent research found that places to meet, connectivity and an active, engaged community are vital to secure better social and economic outcomes for local people.[2]

Yet despite the benefits they bring, community hubs often walk a financial tightrope. The Community Hub Handbook aims to increase their financial resilience and ensure the abundance of know-how in the community sector is shared so all community hubs can plan with confidence and continue to provide vital support for local people.

The Handbook covers a wide range of business essentials such as building relationships, acquiring premises, securing sustainable income, marketing, staffing, governance and more. Commissioned and published by Local Trust[3] and Power to Change[4], and written by Locality[5], it is intended for use by resident groups, housing associations, charities, community organisations and volunteers, and is available free online at http://bit.ly/comhubhandbook.

There are an estimated 1,900 community hubs in England, with a collective income of £371m and £161m assets, 7,600 staff and 37,800 volunteers.[6] By increasing their resilience and financial security, community hubs can continue to benefit people living locally by:

  • Building trust and ‘social capital’ in communities facing stress and fragmentation
  • Building community confidence and self-determination in places where people often feel ‘done to’
  • Offering an improved approach to local services, breaking down a ‘them and us’ culture, with an emphasis on local insight, human relationships, service integration and open access
  • Supporting earlier intervention to tackle social problems and build on local strengths
  • Stimulating local economic and social activity, helping to generate wealth in a place and keeping it there.

More than 4,000 publicly owned buildings and spaces in England are being sold off every year.[7] Many of these will host community hubs, adding to the uncertainty they face.

Graham Finegold, co-author of the handbook said: “Ongoing sustainability is a top priority for community hubs and it’s one that can be cracked – with the right support. This handbook turns the wealth of knowledge and experience in the community sector into detailed, free guidance. It is as close as you can get to a one-to-one session with a business adviser and is an essential reference for every community hub, whatever stage they are at in their business development.”

Feedback on the Community Hub Handbook from readers:

“Wow, what a comprehensive and well laid out document: clear, well thought through and practically focused. Essential reading for anyone developing a community hub – and a great refresher even if you’re already established.”
Steve Sayer, Chief Executive, Windmill Hill City Farm

I’m CEO of a large community hub in Calderdale which has been on the development journey described so comprehensively in this Handbook. We are still learning and still developing, so it is as useful to us as it is for anyone in the very early stages of setting up a hub in their local community. It’s honest about the energy, skills and commitment required and provides practical tools, advice and information to overcome the toughest of challenges.”
Alison Haskins, CEO, Halifax Opportunities Trust  

 

 

ENDS

Further information from Jessie Powell 020 3588 0573 / 07772 245620

Jessie.powell@localtrust.org.uk

[1] The Community Hub Handbook: https://www.powertochange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Community-Hubs-Handbook-Final.pdf

[2] Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion and Local Trust, (2019), Left behind? Understanding communities on the edge. https://localtrust.org.uk/news-and-stories/news/on-the-edge/

[3] 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 £200m endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund – the largest ever single commitment of lottery funds. Big Local 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 on statutory and lottery funding in the past. www.localtrust.org.uk

[4] Power to Change is the independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England. Endowed with £150 million from the National Lottery Community Fund, we work to revive local buildings and spaces, protect the services people rely on, and address local needs. Since 2015 we have invested nearly £18 million in community hubs. www.powertochange.org.uk

[5] Locality is the national membership network supporting local community organisations to be strong and successful. Locality supports local community organisations to unlock the power in their community to build a fairer society. Our member network of over 700 community organisations creates the services their community needs most in spaces where everyone belongs. Every week our membership network supports over 400,000 people, helping to transform lives. Locality provides specialist advice, peer-learning, resources, and campaigns to create better operating conditions for our members. www.locality.org.uk

[6] Local Trust and Power to Change, (2019), Community Hubs: understanding survival and success.

[7] Locality, (2018), The Great British Sell Off: How we’re losing our vital publicly owned buildings and spaces, forever.