Creating Stronger and more Inclusive Communities

A paper setting out some lessons for positive action in the context of austerity drawn from five agencies across the UK.

Authors: Alex Fox, John Gillespie, Karyn Kirkpatrick, Sian Lockwood, Julia Slay, David Towell and Duncan Tree

Long before the rhetoric of ‘Big Society’ corrupted the language of community development, third sector agencies like Community Service Volunteers, Community Catalysts, Key Ring, NAAPS UK and the New Economics Foundation were working to strengthen local communities in ways which viewed everyone as potential contributors, including those who themselves need care and support.

Faced with the new austerity, leaders of these agencies came together with facilitation by CfWR Fellow David Towell to reflect on this many years of experience and draw lessons for inclusive community building.

In this pamphlet they distil seven principles and set out succinct examples of what these might mean in practice in current circumstances. 

The seven principles are:

  1. Community development needs to start from how people themselves define their situation, the challenges they face and their aspirations and assets.
  2. Communities are stronger where people who use services are helped to find good ways of making a valued local contribution, not just seen as in need of care.
  3. Most support is delivered by families and social networks: it is critical that services support and work in partnership with people who make unpaid contributions.
  4. The personalisation of public services marks a genuine change when it represents a change in culture, aspirations and the availability of a wider choice of support providers, not just a change in funding mechanisms.
  5. To live fully, we all need to be able to make informed choices, to take risks and to experience the consequences of our choices.
  6. Public sector contributions are most cost-effective when they look across the pattern of local assets and needs, not just at those assessed as ‘most needy’.
  7. Micro-scale enterprises and interventions can be a powerful vehicle for mobilising new contributions and enabling people to co-design and share ownership in services which are personalised to their needs.

The publisher is Shared Lives Plus.

Creating Stronger and more Inclusive Communities © Alex Fox, John Gillespie, Karyn Kirkpatrick, Sian Lockwood, Julia Slay, David Towell and Duncan Tree 2011.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.


Paper | 18.12.11

community, England, Paper

David Towell


Director of the Centre for Inclusive Futures

John Gillespie


Director of New Gestalt Voices

Also see