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New seeds beneath the snow?

By Julian Dobson

February 2018

"There is a long history and philosophy of self-help and mutual aid that Big Local draws on, even if its not explicit and scarcely gets a mention", Julian Dobson

This essay reports on the aspirations and achievements of Big Local areas in Merseyside, Lincoln and Telford, and places them in the context of previous experiences of community development, decline and revitalisation. Providing comparison, he also reflects on the work of three other projects: the Peckham Health Centre, established more than 90 years ago, the Deighton and Brackenhall Initiative in Huddersfield, and Manor and Castle Development Trust in Sheffield.

About the author

Julian Dobson is a writer, researcher and commentator on place, society and social policy. He is the author of How to Save Our Town Centres (Policy Press, 2015) and was co-founder and editorial director of New Start, the magazine for UK regeneration practitioners. He previously edited Inside Housing, the national magazine for housing professionals, and has recently completed a PhD at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University.

Read the essay

Other essays in the series

'The grammar of change: Big Local neighbourhoods in action' - David Boyle

'Skittled out? The collapse and revival of England's social infrastructure' - Dan Gregory

'Community Spirits' - Stephen Bates

'Designs on the past' - Carey Newson

Local Trust podcast - Big Local context

The first podcast from Local Trust examines where the Big Local programme sits in a wider historical context of community development, decline and revitalisation. Narrated by Julian Dobson, author of the essay 'New seeds beneath the snow?' with roundtable contributions from policy makers, strategists and thinkers from across the country, this podcast discusses the long term impact mutual aid and self help can have on communities that have felt systematically 'left behind' by both national legislation and public services.

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