Big Local is administered by Local Trust using over £200m in funding from the Big Lottery Fund. It was launched in July 2010 to support 150 small urban and rural communities across England to each come together to make their areas even better places to live.
The outcomes of Big Local are that:
- 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 can continue to identify and respond to local 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.
In Southampton, £1 million over 10 years has been allocated to areas of Harefield, Midanbury and Townhill Park, and this project has been named SO18 Big Local. SO18 Big Local is driven by a group of people that all live, work or volunteer in the SO18 Big Local area (predominantly residents) termed the “Partnership Committee”. The Partnership Committee is supported by two Big Local Workers, and our two Local Trusted Organisations (LTOs) – TWICS (Training for Work In Communities) and SVS (Southampton Voluntary Services).
We also have employed a Youth Development Worker to focus on our Young People strand of work.
SO18 Big Local is here to enhance aspects of community life in Harefield, Midanbury and Townhill Park. We are seeking to encourage a greater degree of community interaction and participation within and between each of these distinct communities. Our aim is to promote a sense of community spirit through inspiring a generation of volunteers, sharing resources, and working together for mutual benefit, for example through facilitation of environmental improvements or provision of community facilities.
How we work
The Partnership Committee, supported by the workers, conducted research and spoke to residents are lots of events, to develop our Community Profile, detailing the good points about the area and some of the challenges faced. From this, we developed our plan for the first year that set out what we wanted to achieve in Year 1, and how much of the £1m we intended to use doing it. At the end of the year, we then reviewed progress, both as a committee but also with local people at “taking stock” sessions, to see if our long term vision was still valid, and to discuss what to do in the next year.
This process is repeated each year, and at the end of each year we produce a short Annual Report that says what we achieved that year, and how much was spent doing it, so residents can clearly see where we are in terms of progress and in terms of spending the £1m.
Year 1 for us started in April 2013 and we are proud of what we have achieved since then. Our work is split into themes that we want to tackle, and we approach these in 3 main ways:
- We procure services to cover area where we have identified a need for support, but we do not have the skills ourselves as a committee to provide a service, for example, buying in local debt or benefit advice.
- We run events and activities ourselves, for example, building a sense of community spirit by putting on events at Christmas or Halloween, or arranging the purchase of local IT facilities.
- Thirdly we run a Small Grants Fund, to support local groups (e.g. Scouts, pre-schools etc) by allowing them to apply to us for funding, as long as their projects fit with our aims, or to allow larger organisations to bring their services to this area. Local people felt that a small grants scheme that gave local groups a chance to apply for funding would be a way to support and encourage organisations currently operating in the area. Click here for more information.
In addition, we also network with, and signpost people to, other organisations working in the area.