Community Action Toolkit and other resources from The Young Foundation

16th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Annisa Muchtar works on Communications at The Young Foundation (@the_young_fdn), and is an Analyst at  Market Sentinel. The Young Foundation’s work covers health, ageing, education, communities and housing, justice, youth leadership, creative uses of the web, and wellbeing. They address issues by carrying out research, launching collaboratives, creating new ventures, and advising national and local governments and other public agencies, in the UK and internationally. They collaborate with a wide range of organizations – from charities and businesses to governments and local authorities – using a comprehensive set of tools and approaches. You can also find the foundation on Facebook. Annisa’s notes:

The Young Foundation/Community action toolkit – There are already hundreds of places around the country where local authorities are working to empower and support communities, and where communities are taking the lead on local issues: running community buildings, setting up action groups, delivering local services and championing the need for better public services. However, there are as many places just starting to explore how to engage and empower local people.

This is challenging for many local authorities and public agencies. Devolution and empowerment create new risks for local authorities to manage and demand that agencies change the way they view and work with communities and service users.

Much is already known about how to successfully empower communities. This community action toolkit brings together knowledge, practical tools and stories about community empowerment for organisations who want to shift power and influence to local people and for communities that want to take up those opportunities. It is based on five years’ work the Young Foundation has undertaken with communities, local groups, councillors, local authorities, housing associations, public agencies and central government.

Learning Locally: What can three community initiatives teach us about promoting localism in Devon, by Carmel O’Sullivan, Catherine Russell, Vicki Sellick – This short report explores the lessons from three very different approaches to community engagement in Devon – a grass roots community forum, a parish council cluster and a community plan for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We explore the impact each structure has had on community engagement, scrutiny of local services and promoting resident responsibility.

Growing social ventures by Cynthia Shanmugalingam, Geoff Mulgan, Jack Graham, Simon Tucker – Britain’s history is full of examples of forward-thinking co-ops, charities, mutuals as well as profitable businesses that have pioneered innovative ways to tackle social needs. From the rich activity of socially oriented businesses and charities in the 19th century, to forerunners of the ethical business movement like the Body Shop, and an estimated £24bn social enterprise industry, the UK has a diverse ecology of entrepreneurial activity aimed at meeting social goals.

With strong government support and interest in the field, and growing interest from London’s financial services sector, the UK has come to be seen as a global leader in the emerging fields of social enterprise, social finance and social entrepreneurship. Over the past fifteen years, at least £350 million of public money has gone into funds for social entrepreneurship, charity capacity building and other support for social ventures, alongside significant philanthropic funding and some private investment – although accurate aggregate figures remain elusive. Tax incentives have also been introduced, as well as legal reforms to encourage investment.

A new industry is steadily taking shape. This industry has many names: social investment, social finance, and the social economy. It fuses together two relative strengths of the UK – skill in finance and skill in civic action, organisation and delivery.

This report, produced by the Young Foundation and published by NESTA, is the first comprehensive survey of the state of the institutions that support a dynamic and emerging sector of social ventures.

More on the Young Foundation’s work.

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