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People and Communities

We’re working with six communities across England and Wales to strengthen small community led organisations and find new ways of designing and resourcing services so that people facing complex issues get the support they need, when they need it and in ways that work best for them.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen funding and availability of local services decline. Services that are there to help people in crisis like refuges, shelters, and counselling, as well as support that helps people so they don’t end up in crisis. Small community-led organisations often deliver these services, many of which have seen their own income to deliver contracts decline. At a time when more and more people are turning to charities for help as public services continue to shut. The impact and consequence of these decisions on people and wider communities have worsened following the global pandemic and cost of living crisis.


About our long-term work to support change

We’ve been funding and supporting small organisations for a long time. We also work nationally to shape policy and practice to improve the operating environment for small charities and address root causes of complex issues.

In 2019 we started to look at how we could work locally to change how we collectively design, resource and deliver essential local services that can improve people’s lives. Recognising that it is often the small community-led organisations that provide vital services, our focus was to strengthen these organisations and change how local organisations design, resource, and deliver services.

We have committed to working with six communities across England and Wales over the longer term: Bolsover, Great Yarmouth, Halton, Merthyr Tydfil, Redcar & Cleveland, and Telford & Wrekin.

Through this work we’ve brought together:

  • People who deliver services such as small local charities and community-based organisations
  • People who fund services in the broadest sense including trusts and foundations and statutory funders
  • The local private sector
  • People who use those services and live locally

Using a range of approaches we’ve developed and strengthened relationships with people, organisations and sectors and engagement with this way of working. From this we’ve worked closely within the six communities to agree on shared ambitions for each of the six communities and collectively identify a focal issue for each.

The six communities we are working in

  1. Redcar and Cleveland  We are supporting ongoing work locally including the development of Local Access funding to support social investment and social enterprise, and also engaging with partners locally around developing services and using resources in innovative ways

  2. Halton – The focus of the work in Halton is on food inequality, which is an issue identified through a series of workshops with local stakeholders.  There has also been work delivered by the team together with local partners in linking businesses with VCSE organisations

3. Bolsover – The focus of the work in Bolsover is poverty and inequality and has focused in on aspiration as an area where we can collectively make an impact.  We are also piloting our Organisational Resilience programme to support local Voluntary, Social and Community Enterprise (VCSE) organisations 

4. Telford and Wrekin- We held a series of workshops during 2021 to identify a good starting point that would fit the local context in Telford and Wrekin, and this was identified as early intervention with a particular focus on aspiration and unlocking potential.  Alongside this our team have developed work locally linking businesses and VCSE organisations, and Telford and Wrekin was also one of the communities where our Organisational Resilience programme was piloted

5. Great Yarmouth – we are supporting the Great Yarmouth Homeless Alliance and have been since its inception in late 2020.  This work emerged as a result of conversations in the area during the first lockdown in 2020 where people were accommodated in hotels during the ‘Everyone in’ policy

6. Merthyr Tydfil – The focus in Merthyr Tydfil is on children and young people’s mental health, which emerged as a priority for stakeholders in the area through a series of facilitated sessions.  Organisations in Merthyr Tydfil were also part of our Organisational Resilience pilot, and have taken part in work to link businesses and charities.


Why these six communities?

We developed an initial long list based partly on size of the area, profile, statistical measures and insights from our regional managers who advised on places where there might be an appetite to work with us.  Based on this we developed a shortlist of places and started having some conversations to find out if our approach could support local areas.  The final six were arrived at based on response and engagement from a range of partners, across sectors, in the local areas which we felt was a strong base to start from. Click on the illustrations below that provides highlights of their journeys so far.

Six communities illustration Redcar and Cleveland

Redcar and Cleveland

Six communities illustration Bolsover

Telford and Wrekin

Six communities illustration Halton


Six communities illustration Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth

Six communities illustration Bolsover


Six communities illustration Merthyr

Merthyr Tydfil

At a glance: Our approach and evidence base

Informed by research, and by our work with small and local charities, we are working with six communities in England and Wales to come together to support the delivery of services to the people who need it most. This infographic explains the background and approach to our People and Communities work. Click each image to enlarge or download the infographic as a poster here.

We know that many communities around the UK are facing a similar set of challenges. Our approach is informed by what small charities tell us, as well as a wider evidence base about what issues are affecting our communities.

Some challenges won’t go away, but we can change the way we work together to face them. There is a strong evidence base around how all the local people and services in a place can work together to create change across the system.

If we work together in this way, we can get to a better place for all of us. Our collective efforts will mean everyone’s needs are met. We will learn together and share what we find out about what works, so others can use it

You can read the research here or request our bibliography from Harriet Ballance, our People and Communities Lead, by emailing