Cross-sector report calls for new social contract to support community development

Melanie May | 4 August 2020 | News

A new ‘social contract’ that promotes greater equality, increased opportunities and wider collective action is needed to create a more secure and sustainable future for UK communities, says a new report.
The report, Resilient Communities, by Cumberland Lodge, in partnership with The Young Foundation, responds to recent events and developments such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Grenfell Tower fire, the Windrush scandal, and the global climate and refugee crises.
It calls for greater collaboration between the private and public sector to drive change, stating that funding alone is not enough and that community-focused and community-driven approaches must be at the core of any development initiative.
The report draws on the collective experience of policymakers, business representatives, academics and research students, young people, faith leaders, activists and civil society practitioners, to examine ways of helping communities in the UK become more resilient, and provides a series of research-backed, practical ideas.
Published in two parts, the first reviews existing research and examples of best practice, highlighting challenges to community cohesion and resilience in the UK and approaches to strengthening it through collaborative and active citizenship, faith-based communities, the arts and culture, sports and community leisure, business and entrepreneurship, and education.
Part II presents 24 specific recommendations for UK policymakers and practitioners, to support greater community resilience. These are grouped around five key ideas that emerged from cross-sector conversations and research carried out earlier this year:

  1. Fostering stronger community leadership and decision-making
  2. ‘Widening the circle’, to hear more voices
  3. Developing and increasing community spaces and community ownership
  4. Focusing the monitoring and evaluation of community resilience on meaningful impact
  5. Building on shared wisdom, to help create a better future.

The report was authored by Dr Sinéad Fitzsimons, a Research Officer in Education and Development at Cambridge Assessment, part of the University of Cambridge.
She said:

“This project has highlighted that funding alone will not lead to long-lasting community development. Increasing funding will make a difference, but more importantly, that funding needs to be used effectively. Both the private and public sector must work together to ensure that community-focused and community-driven approaches are at the core of any development initiative.
‘The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted additional challenges for communities. Although we could not have foreseen what would happen when we started this work, in many ways it is the ideal time to share the recommendations that have emerged, since the way many people think about community life is already changing.
‘A new social contract is needed that promotes greater equality, increased opportunities and wider collective action to create a more secure and sustainable future for all communities across the UK, including community members that have previously been forgotten or disenfranchised.”

Helen Goulden, Chief Executive Officer of The Young Foundation, added:

‘This report makes strong and clear recommendations for supporting stronger communities as we emerge into a long period of uncertainty and recovery. Like never before, we are seeing the potential of a society and economy with community and well-being at its heart. At the Young Foundation, we understand that it is the twin power of imagination and implementation – of both thinking and doing – that creates positive social change. This report presents another clarion call for action to which we should all be paying attention.”


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