Shaping opportunities for influence

As communities become established and social networks develop, both formal and informal groups will form. Formal groups include parish councils, or community institutions with constitutions and legal status, and local consultative partnerships set up by the local authority. Informal groups will include local activists coming together, often to campaign and groups based on particular life experiences or interests (toddlers groups, football clubs, faith groups). All are essential to feed into thriving community governance over time.

Community projects that empower local people

The Bridges Community Project

The Bridges Community Project is a successful example of how to empower local people to be part of the solution in tackling community issues.

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Eastfield, North Yorkshire

Eastfield, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, started with a residents' group comprising a few committed enthusiasts. Their efforts demonstrated the potential of small groups to grow and succeed.

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Blacon Community Trust

Blacon, located near Chester contains a mixture of private homes and public council-built properties. It used to contain one of the largest council housing estates in Europe but is now owned, run and maintained by the Chester and District Housing Trust.

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The Communities First Partnership and the Maesgeirchen and Tanybryn Residents Association (MATRA)

The area along the river lining the estate, Afon Cegin, had been used for fly-tipping for decades, until local youths asked the Communities First Partnership for help with clearing the rubbish that was stopping them from fishing.

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There is a need for someone to act as a catalyst in helping develop a strong community. This might need a skilled community development worker (the early new towns all recognised the importance of this role). But it is also a role that a good neighbourhood manager can sometimes fulfil. Evidence suggests that the most effective managers act as:

  • a customer advocate
  • community facilitator
  • local broker
  • area champion
  • innovator and change agent
  • community catalyst

Neighbourhood Management Pathfinders CLG evaluation (2008)

Find out more about the success and sustainability of mixed communities

Participation and social capital

It is important that participation takes account of the different expectations, attitudes and experiences of different groups. What will work in involving older people will be very different from the approach needed to engage young families or teenagers.

Listening to young people

There are a number of ways that involvement can become formalised, by developing community groups into community organisations, or by setting up new institutional governance arrangements, including Community Land Trusts.

Evidence fromĀ Locality and other community empowerment models shows that having a strong community organisation can be very effective in terms of influencing local services, encouraging community initiatives and giving people a voice in dealing with the whole range of issues that impact on a community's everyday existence. Community anchor organisations can provide a vehicle for residents to organise themselves exercise voice and influence on the wider resident community, through informal controls and supervision, and externally by communicating with service providers and other local stakeholdersGlossary: A group of people or an organisation with a legitimate interest in a given situation, action or enterprise.

What are Community Anchors?