Big Local

Big Local is the most innovative and exciting community development programme I have been involved in to date. It was launched in 2010, and 150 communities across England were selected in three waves by the National Lottery to receive a minimum of £1 million over a ten year period. The areas were identified in consultation with local Councils and key partner organisations as having been overlooked for funding in the past (particularly by the Big Lottery Fund). Each Big Local programme is managed by a Partnership of local residents and organisations with a requirement that in decision making, local residents must be in the majority. The Partnerships are required to connect with their local communities to identify and respond to local needs to make a lasting difference. Big Local is pursuing four national outcomes:

  • Communities will be better able to identify local needs and take action in response to them.
  • People will have increased skills and confidence, so that they continue to identify and respond to needs in the future.
  • The community will make a difference to the needs it prioritises.
  • People will feel that their area is an even better place to live.

I have been involved as a freelance representative for four Big Local partnerships in the Yorkshire and Humber sub region since the programme’s inception. The Big Local areas are:

  • Greatfield (Hull)
  • North Cleethorpes (North East Lincolnshire)
  • Winterton (North Lincolnshire)
  • Withernsea (East Riding of Yorkshire)

My initial role was to bring together residents and local organisations to form resident led partnerships to manage the £1 million Big Lottery Award and latterly I have continued representing the interests of the managing body Local Trust and providing ‘light touch’ mentoring and support for each partnership.

Big Local is a ten year programme that acknowledges how much time is needed to build capacity, connect with the local community and ensure funding decisions reflect local priorities. Rather than merely giving lip service to community empowerment, Big Local is genuinely resident led and part of my role as a Rep is to ensure that residents remain in control and the agenda isn’t hijacked by external bodies. Each Big Local Partnership strives to engage with local people to create ownership for a Vision for the area and articulate its priorities through a Big Local Plan. The management body, Local Trust, provides a broad range of support and learning opportunities to residents in an effort to build capacity, create sustainability and pursue investment opportunities that will leave a legacy beyond the life of the programme.

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