This year has been challenging, inspiring and tiring in equal measure.
Although this is a challenging time for public services, Locality have helped to show that it can also be an opportunity for creative thinking at the community and street level.
- Shropshire Council

It remains a tough environment for our members with ever increasing demand for services, deteriorating conditions for many people, and stretched and struggling public services and budgets. The continual political upheaval, with the uncertainty that brings, as well as the toxic quality of national debate adds a particularly non-festive vibe this Christmas.

However, the Locality network is a deep source of optimism. Our members have been my source of inspiration. Amidst these challenges, they support 400,000 local people every week. They do whatever their community needs most, harnessing the power of community and driving forward regardless of the challenging external environment.

This year somebody from our network said something which has stuck with me:

It’s not that community organisations are reliant on the state for their survival, but that the state is reliant on community organisations and they don’t realise it.

Absolutely spot on, and our members are in the front line of supporting communities and individuals facing real challenges.

We know it’s tough out there, and that’s why Locality worked hard throughout 2018 supporting members with our expert support and advice services, peer to peer learning, and our influencing work.

Over the year Locality has:

  • Enabled over 150,000 local people to access resources and advice on the My Community website platform,
  • Provided almost 1000 local groups with grants worth £4.4 million to create a neighbourhood plan,
  • Supported over 100 community organisations with tailored advice and support,
  • Provided over 80 members at crisis point with support to stay afloat through the Lifeboat turnaround programme,
  • Enabled over 80 organisations to access funding and support through the Power to Change Bright Ideas Fund, for business ideas including cafes, financial inclusion, transport, tourism, housing, conservation and energy,
  • Provided over 25 local authorities and other organisations with advice and support.

Being part of a network of like-minded people and organisations builds resilience for leaders in member organisations as well as keeping up to date with new developments, testing out new ideas and finding motivation and strength. I’d like to extend a special welcome to the 151 members who’ve joined us during 2018. You’re among friends, and together we have a powerful voice for the communities we work to support.

Specialist advice and support

Our team of local experts based around the country support community organisations with everything from business planning to community engagement to ownership of buildings and spaces.

With our support, community organisations were able to:

  • Own, develop and manage local buildings and spaces like parks, swimming pools and sports clubs,
  • Develop new business models and income streams,
  • Reach more people in their local community,
  • Secure new funding.

We can help you to achieve more for your community by delivering the services local people need and bringing investment and jobs to your local area. See how we can help.

People Power

At the beginning of the year, we launched our People Power report – the findings of the Commission on the Future of Localism, chaired by Lord Kerslake. We thought about the way the 2011 Localism Act could be strengthened. But we concluded that more centrally driven solutions devised in Whitehall weren’t the answer.

Instead, we made the case for radical action to create a new ‘power partnership’ between local government and communities. With strong local governance, the transfer of real power and resources, and changes to relationships and behaviours to enable local initiatives to thrive.

Since then, we’ve begun working with community organisations and councils in four areas:

  • Cornwall,
  • Southwark,
  • Stevenage,
  • Wigan.

Our action research will be testing our findings from People Power and putting our recommendations into practice.

Keep it Local, for services that transform lives

Keep it Local is Locality’s campaign to turn the tide on large-scale outsourcing. The latest iteration of the campaign, in partnership with Lloyds Bank Foundation, was launched in May. The campaign is aiming to shift local authority commissioning practice, so that it truly harnesses the power of community.

The engagement we’ve done in 2018 has provided us with a sense that the tide is beginning to turn. There is a growing movement of local authorities – in the wake of the collapse of Carillion – who recognise the importance of doing things differently.

Through the Keep it Local Network, we’ve spoken to councillors, commissioners and community organisations about what exactly this approach should be and in the new year, we’ll be asking councils that want to Keep it Local to work with us to make it a reality.

The Great British Sell Off

Save our Spaces is Locality’s campaign to save our much-loved publicly owned buildings and spaces from being sold off for private use. These are our parks, libraries, swimming pools and town halls.

In June 2018 Locality published The Great British Sell Off, which showed the results of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to all councils in England. The results revealed that more than 4,000 buildings and spaces are being sold off every year.

As Locality members will know, community ownership puts buildings and spaces back at the heart of the community and protects them for local people for generations to come. The campaign generated lots of national media interest, and enabled Locality members to share their stories of the transformative effect community ownership can have on a place.

During 2019, we’ll be continuing to make the case for community ownership, especially for a Community Ownership Fund as the Comprehensive Spending Review approaches.

Civil Society Strategy

The consultation and publication of the government’s strategic vision for civil society meant lots of opportunities to showcase the inspiring work of Locality members and the power of community.

We feel that the Strategy published in August is a welcome statement of intent. It is right to recognise that government alone cannot tackle the huge and complex challenges we face as a society. Instead, it sets out the government’s ambition to unlock the “power of community”: the huge resources of innovation, ideas, creativity and commitment that exists in local places across the country.

However, the Civil Society Strategy is unlikely to have the impact it deserves without further resources being made available. As we know, community organisations are under huge strain, with demand for their services skyrocketing and budgets declining.

What the Civil Society Strategy does do, is enable us to point to a clear statement of government intent and commitment, as we make the case for Locality members. We’ll continue to do so in 2019

November 2018 – Locality Convention ‘18

Our annual convention is a time like no other for bringing people together to discuss national and local important issues. I thought 2018 was the best yet and showed off the amazing work across our network.

80% agreed or strongly agreed Locality Convention ’18 provided them with useful information that will help improve their work. It was great get member’s involvement in policy development part of this

We heard from lots of inspiring members about their innovative approaches to tackling some of our knottiest social issues.  And of course, we were delighted that the Secretary of State for Communities spoke and shared his thoughts on the agenda.

Members were showcased throughout the event, but we were delighted to launch our first Locality Awards. There were so many fantastic examples of life-changing work, our independent judging panel had a very difficult (but uplifting) time choosing the worthiest projects and people. Huge congratulations to the winners!

Check out all the highlights.

Learning from each other

With all the amazing knowledge, know-how and inspirational grit of our members, it would be an absolute waste not to make meaningful connections and learn from one another. Locality has always been committed to help members do just that.

Funds have been made available through our Knowledge and Skills Exchange programme to ensure members can visit and learn from each other. This year we have funded 24 members to connect with others in the network and we’re delighted to have attracted funds to make more exchanges available.

Colebridge Trust used Locality’s Knowledge and Skills Exchange to further their development setting up food projects based upon the social supermarket concept.

Over the two days of our visit, we swapped stories of our work, shared information, good practice ideas all of which will help with our future development and growth.

The Power of Community

This year we saw the launch of our new members-only Power of Community events across the nation. Over 150 member organisations came to connect, exchange ideas and attend workshops on a range of topics.

We also used this opportunity to ask our members to feed into our five year strategy. Your opinions, suggestions and ideas are informing us in shaping what we know will be important for us to focus on in the turbulent next few years. There will be another opportunity for members to contribute in a survey that we will sending out next year, it’s a great occasion to represent your organisation and have your voice heard.

I also would like to personally thank all our Power of Community hosts and guest speakers, we couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to seeing you at the next series of events in 2019!

Members’ impact reaching far and wide

Aside from these core pieces of work, there have been lots of other opportunities to showcase Locality members in public settings. Whether this was through our submission to the NHS England Long Term Plan consultation, or via appearances at the House of Lords discussing the role of community organisations in the rural economy, and the importance of community assets for intergenerational fairness.

Less visible but of no less importance is the day to day lobbying and campaigning we do on behalf of members, talking to politicians, civil servants and other decision makers to try and make the world a better place.

During 2018, there were many such meetings and events, consultations and seminars, arguments and policy papers, all of which highlighted the unique role of Locality members in our society and the impact they have.

2018 member’s roundup

The Locality membership network is made up of hundreds of local community organisations up and down the country. Here are a few stories to highlight their amazing and varied work.

January – FC United of Manchester, a community-owned football club, raised money using Social Investment Tax Relief to help build a new stadium. Read more via Good Finance.

February – Halifax Opportunities Trust launched a new series of HOT topic blogs. First up was all about Localism, from CEO Alison Haskins, who is one of the Commissioners on the Commission on the Future of Localism.

March – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were going to visit St Luke’s Community Centre to help prepare a #CommonwealthBigLunch for the local community.

AprilHeadingley Development Trust were raising money through a community shares offer to create the Headingley Investment Fund. This will give local people a powerful stake in place-making & extend their influence over how the community landscape is shaped.

MayShotton Partnership 2000 Ltd, by working in partnership with Shotton Parish Council for the benefit of the community were awarded £495K from  Big Lottery Fund for a new purpose-built community centre.

June – ‘If you take it out and replace it with housing, you destroy the community.’ Jax Lovelock from Dewsbury Park Mansion Community Hub on why public buildings need to be protected on Victoria Derbyshire BBC Two.

JulyHorton Chapel were awarded a grant of £1.44 million, which meant work could start on transforming the vacant historic building.

Also, a huge thank you to Time and Talents for inviting us to their Summer Rock-a-Hula party. It was wonderful to see the celebration of community with music, laughter and dancing!

AugustExchange CIC had a crowdfunding campaign to develop a community-owned arts and innovation hub in the former Trinity Methodist church, as they work together to transform their local area.

September – ‘New schemes are taking derelict homes and resurrecting them. Some even create apprenticeships for young people in the process’

Giroscope Hull, Community Campus ’87 LtdSt Ann’s Redevelopment Trust and other community-led housing projects were featured in an article by The Guardian.

October – Simon from House Development Trust shared his first ever blog (on the Global Social Economy Forum in Bilbao) – and what a blog it is!

Without question for me, the best part of our trip to Bilbao is the other Locality delegates along with its staff. Among these people I find myself refreshed and re-energised.

November – Friends of Stretford Public Hall were awarded the Power of Community Award by Locality.

We’re thrilled to receive this award as it recognises the fantastic community in Stretford. The progress we have made so far could not have been achieved without the tireless hard work and overall enthusiasm that hundreds of local residents have given to the project to date.

December – It was full steam ahead for the £2.2m Morpeth Station plans. Greater Morpeth Development Trust are ‘committed to giving people of the town a railway station fit for purpose for 21st Century rail travel in a historic building dating back to the Victorian days’.

A fresh new look

Not only have we done all the above, but the Locality brand had a makeover, too. We changed to reflect the needs of our members, and to make sure we were communicating clearly and effectively with our stakeholders.

Find out more about the changes we made.

Locality is finding more and more people are engaging on social media – looking to connect with like-minded people and find out what’s happening locally. In 2019, we will be expanding our support to help you to use your resources effectively, select the best platforms, give tips to improve your engagement and more.

2019 onwards

This is just a taster of Locality’s 2018. There are countless other examples of inspiring work with Locality members, all helping create a fairer society where every community thrives.

Long may it continue next year, and in the years to come.

Tony Armstrong
Chief Executive, Locality

Would you like to get involved in one of our major projects next year…?

If you’re thinking about, or already involved in a community project, you may have noticed that it’s pretty difficult to find the right advice, tools, and expert knowledge to help you answer your questions, or give you the confidence to go forward.

Locality is partnering with 10 community sector support organisations to try and solve this problem!

Be a part of the solution – can you answer a short survey?
To ensure we create a robust and well-rounded solution, we need to know what challenges and problems you face. Can you fill out a short 10-minute questionnaire about you and your work to help create the solution many people are looking for?

Answer our short questionnaire now