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2019 will be the year of people and communities

Right now it feels like we’re living in a world full of uncertainty and divisions. But, looking to the future, I believe we’ll see more and more people and communities stepping forward to meet local challenges, through inspiring local schemes and projects, in harmony with local authorities and local organisations.

My predictions for 2019:

More power to the people

Increasingly, I’m hearing about people creating their own economies, feeding their own, and bringing about change. And there’ll be more of this. Some issues happening on your own doorstep are just too important – issues like social and economic deprivation, hunger, homelessness and loneliness.  Local people can see local assets that can make dramatic changes to people’s fortunes.  

There are some great examples in my hometown, Liverpool. From Homebakeda bakery co-owned by locals whose profits go towards employment and training, and leftover food is given to food banks and homeless centres – to Kitty’s Launderette, a social business and community hub set up by residents, providing affordable laundry facilities.

Both projects have had fantastic support from local politicians, local authorities, and businesses, but the difference is, the communities are in the driving seat and have had great public response.  

More wealth creation

A sense of Place and of Purpose is leading to empowered people sorting things out themselves – and what has started, sometimes from necessity, has now become a whole new approach. The rise of the cultural economy, creating wealth from the bottom up and the success of places like the Baltic triangle – redeveloped for the creative industries in Liverpool – is breeding a new and local entrepreneurial spirit,  tapping into those with a millennial mindset.

And the number of community interest companies (CICs) is rocketing across the UK – ranging from recycling schemes, nurseries, vocational training and cafes, to villages shops and mental health support groups.

Everyone will need to redefine their role

Things are changing, and everyone needs to adapt. Policy makers have responded with the likes of the Civil Society Strategy, the Community Wealth Unit and the strengthening of the Social Value Act. Large corporate businesses are redefining their purpose and their roles to support the communities. And councils are on board with a host of new initiatives –  just take a look at Preston, or the Wigan Deal.

More new communities of interest

Up north we have Northern Power Women, Northern Power Futures, People’s Powerhouse –  which are all about coming together around a common cause, creating movements for change, empowering people to find their voice and challenging the status quo and those in power.

So, for me, 2019 is all about the further rise of community and people and the creation of a new forms of collaboration, new rules, new expectations, new powers.

A version of this article has also been published in Local Government Chronicles

Photo of Alex Cousins

Alex Cousins

Business development director, Capita

Alex is a passionate public servant who has worked across the public and private sector for over 30 years. She has been involved and led transformation programmes that have led to public sector reform. She leads on Capita’s Northern Powerhouse strategy, and has created Capita’s Place Framework which enables good growth and public sector reform for people and place and for the organisations within the system.

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