The Community Organisers programme run by Locality improved the lives of local people as well as its participants, a report evaluating its success has found.
Locality, the national network of ambitious and enterprising community-led organisations, ran the four-year national training programme on behalf of the Cabinet Office from 2011-2015.
Community Organising involves building relationships in communities, mobilising people to take action and supporting projects which make a difference to people’s lives; it creates social and political change through collective action.
Supported 1,500 community projects
As part of the programme, trainee Community Organisers listened to what people want to see change in their communities and helped them to achieve their goals. Organisers supported nearly 1,500 community projects and knocked on hundreds-of-thousands of doors all over the country, listening to more than 125,000 people and helping people in more than 400 communities make the change they want to see in their own neighbourhoods.
Under Locality and its delivery partners, more than 540 Community Organisers completed their training year, recruited more than 5,000 volunteers and had a positive impact on neighbourhoods up and down the country, meeting targets set by the Cabinet Office, the independent evaluation by Ipsos Mori has found.
The final report, commissioned by the Cabinet Office, came out in December after an interim report was published last March.
Locality CEO Tony Armstrong said: “The programme has been a huge success and in every corner of the country our Community Organisers have listened to what people in the community want, need, fear or dream of and worked with them to improve their own lives and neighbourhoods, impacting on individuals, on neighbourhoods and on whole communities.”
The evaluation found that the greatest social impact was achieved when organisers were able to concentrate on a particular patch and concluded that a sustained focus and effort on one place over two or three years would return the best results for the community.
Highly-skilled Community Organisers working in neighbourhoods with the highest capacity brought about the most sustainable community impact, the research organisation discovered. But even in other areas there were still broad benefits for local people, including those who had no direct contact with the programme activities.
One-off activities like litter picks, concerts and children’s fun days, as well as ongoing campaigns to renegotiate local taxation rates, save public services or petition local authorities to provide new ones, all contributed to making neighbourhoods better places to live and work.
In Lincoln, Community Organiser Maaike mobilised more than 100 volunteers to develop a range of community projects, including an annual music festival run by young people which attracted more than 1,000 people.
The programme under Locality ended in summer last year and a legacy organisation, Community Organisers Ltd – or COLtd – has taken the reins of the Community Organising movement and ensure it flourishes. It offers training to the next generation of community organisers and assists current Community Organisers with finding work and funding to continue their work in communities.
Tony Armstrong added: “I’m very proud of what the Community Organisers programme had achieved so far and I look forward to seeing more success in the future as COLtd builds a lasting legacy.”