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Have your say about the future of communities

May 2017

Today [17/05/2017] Local Trust is launching Empowered Communities in the 2020s, a research and public engagement project inviting organisations, public services, community groups, organisers and individual citizens to share their visions of how communities can become more empowered and vibrant.

Local Trust is providing a range of ways to participate, in person, online and on social media at and hashtag #Empowered2020s.

 “We want to start a new conversation about what community development and empowerment means in a modern context,” says Matt Leach, chief executive of Local Trust. “We’ll look at current practice and approaches in the past that may provide insight for the future. We also need to build links with ideas about community economic development and connect to key sectors such as health, employment, housing and transport.”

The project, part funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and a legacy from the Community Development Foundation [1], asks “How can communities become more empowered in the next ten years?”. It will run until the end of 2017, with a final report expected in April 2018, and has two major components:

  • A series of action research dialogues led by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research, split into three themes - Issues, Nations and Places [2]
  • Public engagement via events, news updates, online opinion and comment, and social media conversations [3] 

Leila Baker, IVAR’s head of research, commented: “We’re delighted to bring IVAR’s tried and tested action research methodology to help open up a debate about what needs to happen for communities to become more empowered in the future. We’ll also be pooling our communications resources together with those of Local Trust to help maximise engagement in the research. One of the ways we’re doing that is by making our findings freely available and later this week we will be announcing the first set of findings from our ‘scoping stage’ which will give insight into the kinds of questions we’re asking people in communities across the UK.”

Take part by signing up to the Empowered Communities mailing list [4], so you can:

  • Tell the researchers about an empowered community
  • Share ideas and knowledge about how communities can be more vibrant
  • Suggest events where the researchers can connect to people who would like to respond to the research questions
  • Comment on the research findings when they emerge later in the year
  • Contribute and comment on blogs and opinion pieces
  • Join online conversations connected by the hashtag #Empowered2020s

Early answers to the question ‘How can communities become more empowered in the next ten years?’ include opinions gathered at events with residents from Big Local [5] areas, and members of the Empowered Communities steering group [6]:

“Put young people in the driving seat’ (Anonymous, London)

“We need people to feel a stake in what’s happening beyond their front doors.” Tony Armstrong, member of the Empowered Communities project steering group.

“Better understand power, how it is used and can be used” (Anonymous, Liverpool)

“It’s important for people to be proud of where they live and to feel like they have a future there.” Daniel Goodwin, member of the Empowered Communities project steering group.

“Are empowered individuals and communities those who create together as well as do things together?” Lorna Prescott, member of the Empowered Communities project steering group.

“By building their capacity to lobby, negotiate and challenge.” (Anonymous, Sheffield)

“People need to feel safe and respected in their community, and feel that they know where to get help and that other people will help them” said Dr Rachel Shanks, member of the Empowered Communities project steering group.


Further information: Jessica Wenban-Smith, head of communications, Local Trust 07751 836346, 0203 588 0577,



[1] Community development legacy project announcement:

[2] IVAR (Institute for Voluntary Action Research) is an independent research charity that works closely with organisations that are striving for social change. They work with all sizes of organisations across the voluntary, public and funding sectors — from the very small, who directly support the most vulnerable in their communities, to those that work nationally. 

[3] Website: 

[4] Join the mailing list for news about the Empowered Communities project at

[5] Big Local is an exciting opportunity for residents in 150 areas around England to use at least £1m each to make a massive and lasting positive difference to their communities. Big Local brings together all the local talent, ambitions, skills and energy from individuals, groups and organisations who want to make their area an even better place to live. It is a radically different investment of £220m from the Big Lottery Fund and is managed by Local Trust.

 [6] Details of the project steering group are available at


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