We believe that every community should be in control of its future and that people should be able to make choices and decisions about the facilities and services in their local area.
Strengthening social infrastructure
In every community there are deep reserves of pride and attachment to the local area and people with the passion and ideas to improve their circumstances and surroundings. We have seen how bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together in a place creates a pool of collective knowledge and skills that can be shared and deployed to achieve common goals and tackle key social and environmental challenges.
However, some communities experience more challenges when exercising choice and control over their futures than others. The most disadvantaged parts of the UK have faced deeper cuts to public spending than others over recent years, benefit from fewer local voluntary organisations, suffer greater environmental injustice and many people in them are balancing multiple jobs or coping with worklessness and insecure housing. This can weaken the social infrastructure in a place – the places, networks and activities that underpin community life.
Over the years, Groundwork has worked alongside communities to strengthen their social infrastructure, helping them to organise into recognised groups, providing training and skills to build capacity and supporting the delivery of practical projects to galvanise action and demonstrate that change is possible. This means committing to a place for the long term, including all sections of the community, valuing the skills and perspective of each individual, and working closely with people to identify shared priorities and solutions. It also means providing a bridge between residents, public bodies and businesses, enabling people to access the information and options they need to make informed choices and to contribute to the regeneration and sustainable development of their local area.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of strong local community networks when it comes to supporting people in times of crisis. While some have been more profoundly affected than others, people have been willing to work together to protect their neighbours and maintain vital services. However, many community groups are also feeling the strain from lack of resources and rising need. Sustaining strong community networks through a long period of disruption and the transition to a ‘new normal’ will hold challenges. Groundwork is committed to tackling inequality in all its forms and helping communities access the support and resources they need to be more resilient and to drive a green recovery from the pandemic.