Why communities matter: What do people and places need from the Big Society?

Published: August 2010 Publication Type: Publication

Author: Saffron Woodcraft

In the last decade neighbourhoods have been the target for a wide range of national initiatives and legislation with physical regeneration, social renewal, community engagement and better public services in mind.

In spite of this many people remain disengaged from local politics and feel unable to influence decisions that matter to their daily lives. In many cases national regeneration programmes have not brought about long-lasting improvements for the most deprived neighbourhoods and have been criticised for focusing on physical rather than underlying social issues.

In this briefing we put forward practical ideas about what communities need from the Big Society to support local engagement, social renewal and improve local quality of life. These ideas are drawn from four years of ongoing research at the Young Foundation, involving over 50 partners from local and central government, Local Government Improvement and Development, the LGA and HCA, the voluntary and community sector, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation in our work on innovation in neighbourhoods and social housing.

Our partners have included local authorities governed by all three main political parties and representing rural, urban and suburban communities around England.

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