New Report for Local Trust: ‘Building Community Leadership’

We’re delighted to share the publication of ‘Building Community Leadership’ the culmination of work with IVAR as evaluation and learning partners to Local Trust’s Community Leadership Academy (CLA).

Learning from the experience of participants and delivery partners over the last three years, the report sheds light on how the CLA supported individuals in communities to take action during the difficult years of Covid-19, and what will be needed in future to take forward this learning and sustain community leadership.

Learn more about our work with IVAR as learning evaluation partners for Local Trust’s CLA on our blog here

Blog for Local Trust: Time to Reflect and Recharge

In a blog for Local Trust, Director Richard Usher has written about Just Ideas’ role as delivery partner for the Local Trust ‘Reflect Recharge‘ support offer.

This facilitated support package gives Big Local partnerships the space to reflect on their achievements to date as well as inviting deeper thinking about what support is needed in the final phase of Big Local.

Reflect Recharge aims to build momentum and capacity, but crucially acknowledges the huge achievements of resident volunteers in Big Locals across the country:

“The sessions helped crystalise and firm up thinking about the future and the current context we’re in.”
Devonshire West Big Local

“It has been great focusing on what we want [to achieve] and thinking about solutions.”
Blackpool Revoe Big Local

Richard reflects: “There’s been a great response from the Big Locals we’ve worked with so far, who really appreciate having some time to consider bigger picture stuff and working with us responding to their immediate needs. Reflect Recharge gives that all too infrequent space to reflect on achievements in the community but also to look ahead and tackle any challenges in the final years of the Big Local programme.”

Read more in the Local Trust blog and in our 2022 Annual Review.

Film: Just Ideas’ Learning and Evaluation partnership with IVAR – Local Trust’s Community Leadership Academy

Just Ideas continue to work regularly with Local Trust Big Local communities. There are 150 English neighbourhoods that receive capacity building support and funding through the Big Local programme.

The @LocalTrust Community Leadership Academy (CLA) was formed in 2019 to help recognise and develop leadership skills which the nominated partnership members then bring back to their Big Local area to support community-led change.

As Learning and Evaluation partners for the CLA, Just Ideas and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) work to evaluate its successes and to identify how best to support the CLA programme in the future.

Collectively we work with Big Local communities to capture their experiences and many inspirational insights are shared.

We are delighted to share this film, made by Windmill Hill Big Local in partnership with IVAR, which highlights the achievements of the Big Local. Partnership members also share the difference the Community Leadership Academy has had on their nominated member and within their community.

You can watch the video here –

Final report published: Community responses to Covid 19

In our April blog. Director of Just Ideas – Richard Usher – reflected on how much was learnt and shared over two years working with the Third Sector Research Centre team and being alongside communities across England.

Local Trust have now published the final report in the series they commissioned, entitled “One pandemic, many responses: How community responses to COVID-19 developed and why they varied “.

The research followed 26 communities in England, observing their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis defines a ’model of resourcefulness’ through reflections on the factors that drove strong community responses; and on the interaction of multiple factors that shaped different responses. These include factors such as feelings of community cohesion and identity; past and present investments in communities; having a strong network of community leaders; and having strong relationships with local authorities

Richard reflected:

It was a privilege to work alongside Brookside Big Local on this research project – their responsiveness to the rapidly changing need of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that isolated people got the support they needed, be it help with food, prescriptions or just someone to talk to. This report explores findings from 26 communities across England and their varied responses to the COVID-19 crisis. It’s an inspiring read and it was great to be part of the wider research group with the Third Sector Research Centre, including our regular partners WSA Community Consultants.”

New report published: Big Local relationships with public agencies


We are delighted to announce the publishing of a new report – commissioned by Local Trust – which examines the  relationships between Big Local areas and the public agencies they connect with.

The report was written and researched by a team from Just Ideas – Directors Helen Garforth and Richard Usher with Leila Baker, Véronique Jochum, Graeme Fancourt, Amardeep Kainth, Lisa Meaney and Charlotte Pace. It sits within a wider context of growing policy emphasis on public involvement in local decision-making and draws on the experience and insights of Big Local community members. We thank them for their time and commitment to the research.

To access the report please visit the Local Trust website here.

Film: Community responses to Covid 19

A reflection by Richard Usher, Director of Just Ideas. 

So much was learnt and shared over two years working with the Third Sector Research Centre team and being alongside communities across England in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This short film brings to life some of the issues and key responses that people in communities made from the first lockdown in 2020. It explores how different communities fared during the pandemic and provides an insight into the impact of crisis on communities, and the factors shaping their resilience, response and recovery. There are reflections on the resourcefulness and rapidity of the initial response, that was mirrored across the country, and examples of the toll this also took in the move from emergency action to enduring the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

On a personal note, it is great to hear and see Tony Littley, Chair of Brookside Big Local – who Just Ideas have also worked with – contributing to the film.

Commissioned by Local Trust, the findings of this research provide an insight into the impact of crisis on communities, and the factors shaping their resilience, response and recovery. Please do check out the learning that was shared by the team as we went here 

Mental health matters in our communities

With COVID-19 continuing to take a toll on mental health in our communities, it has been inspiring to kick off new work with Local Trust to support mental health in Big Local areas.

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“Power in our Hands” – Looking back on eight years of Big Local

At Just Ideas we are honoured that Local Trust have drawn on our work in production of a recent paper on resident-led decision making.

Read more