The second wave of research into both People’s Health Trust’s funded programmes in England, Scotland and Wales demonstrates that across funding programmes, when people get involved in their local community, they can effect positive change on how the area is run, and are more likely to have meaningful friendships in their neighbourhood than people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage.
The aim of the research is to understand the ways in which community-led projects can improve health and wellbeing, with an emphasis on the impact of participation in community projects.
We know from our own work and research that social connections and community power are building blocks which are vital to our health and wellbeing in themselves and also key to tackling other factors. Data from across the two programmes shows that surveyed participants had more positive perceptions of community power than people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage, across England, Scotland and Wales.
The latest survey found that the programmes are making a positive difference on people’s lives, which supports the findings from the first wave of research. Reinforcing evidence from the independent Local Conversations evaluation, 81% of those surveyed agreed that when people in their area get involved in their local community, they really can change the way that their area is run, compared to 51% of the people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage. 76% of participants agreed that they feel they belong to their neighbourhood, compared to 56% of the people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage.
The research involved project practitioners as well as project participants. 76% of the surveyed Local Conversations practitioners and 63% of Active Communities programme practitioners said that the projects have facilitated new partnerships between local projects or organisations with common goals or interest. Local Conversations practitioners who were surveyed and 30% of Active Communities practitioners reported that the projects have increased their influence over services in their neighbourhood.
Social Life said: “We would like to thank the project participants and practitioners who shared their knowledge, hopes and worries with us. We appreciate their expertise and the time they put into this work and hope the report will provide useful insight.”