Opportunities for residents to take part in collective activities

A growing body of research supports the suggestion that community and neighbourhood empowerment - giving residents the opportunity to take part in collective activities that influence the areas they live in - contribute to the wellbeing of residents and communities.

Participatory BudgetingGlossary: when residents are directly involved in making decisions about how sections of local budgets are allocated and invested in Manton, Nottingham

Participatory BudgetingGlossary: when residents are directly involved in making decisions about how sections of local budgets are allocated and invested in Manton aimed to develop community leadership and enhance the role of local democracy in decision-making. The Pathfinder gave £50,000 from its budget.

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Harvard Professor Robert Putnam has written extensively about the atomisation of American society, and the decline of group activities. Bowling Alone, published in 2000, argued that joining and participating in one ‘group' cuts in half your odds of dying next year, with a group being defined as any sort of collective activity shared with others.

The positive effects of high social capitalGlossary: the networks and trust between people that help a community work together towards shared objectives, which Putnam defined as ‘networks, norms and trust that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives', can include low crime rates, less grime, better educational achievement, and better health. Social capital: a review of the literature, ONS 2001.

The importance of community empowerment was identified in the Young Foundation's Local Wellbeing Project, whcih was set up in 2006 to test out practical ways of increasing individual and community wellbeing in three very different areas of the UK.

Find out about the Local Wellbeing Project

The new economics foundation (Nef) has written about the ‘core economy', one made up of

"...all the resources embedded in people's everyday lives and in the relationships between them. Human resources are ‘core' because they are essential to society and to the market economy: for raising children, caring for people, feeding families, maintaining households, and building and sustaining intimacies, friendships, social networks and civil society. These are largely uncommodified functions, routinely ignored and often exploited. They can flourish and expand, or weaken and decline, depending on the conditions they operate in. They can grow if they are recognised, valued, nurtured and supported. The core economy is crucially about time and unpaid labour."

The Millenium Community in Greenwich Millennium Village, London

Greenwich Millennium Village was the first Millennium Community to be identified. Greenwich Peninsula is one of the largest development sites in London and one of Europe's biggest regeneration projects.

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Participatory design-and-build at Cowley St Laurence School, West London

A number of architects have developed ways to involve the community in the design and construction of new community buildings.

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Nef argue that ‘co-production' - or resident involvement in the delivery of services is key to this, because this can:

  • provide mutual support systems that can identify and tackle problems before they become acute, encourage behaviour that will prevent them happening in the first place, and advise people who find themselves in difficulties
  • build social networks that will prevent crime, support enterprise and education, keep people healthy and make things happen locally
  • provide supportive relationships that can help people or families continue to survive and thrive when they no longer qualify for all-round acute professional support