Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

March 8, 2017

Filling the capacity deficit

When debating whether it’s fair or reasonable to expect communities to step up to the plate and take on evermore responsibilities, the issue of resources and specifically the call for more investment into capacity building is never far away. Although previously claimed as a core function of CLD teams within local authorities, budget cuts have finally knocked that one on the head. A few years ago, significant investment south of the border went into something called community organising. A massive expansion of that programme has just been announced. There may be some lessons here for Scotland.


Community Organisers Ltd (COLtd) is pleased to announce that it has secured a major £4.2m contract from the Office of Civil Society, part of the Department of Culture Media and Sport, to expand the movement of Community Organisers from 6,500 to 10,000 by 2020.

COLtd is the independent body that grew out of the original 2011 – 2015 Community Organisers Programme, which mobilised communities to take action on issues they care about.

The ambitious expansion programme announced today will increase the number of community organisers across England and enable residents to take greater control of their lives and create strong and resilient communities that work for everyone.

Community organising is the work of building relationships and networks in communities to activate people and create social and political change through collective action.

Community Organisers listen individually to residents, identify and inspire local leaders and bring people together to take action on the issues they all care about. In areas where community organisers work, people have a stronger sense of belonging to their neighbourhood, feel more valued and are motivated to work together to improve lives and transform where they live.

COLtd will launch a £1.3 million grant fund to embed community organising at a neighbourhood level, empowering Community Organisers and local leaders across England to work with local and national partners to strengthen networks and drive social action.

The programme will embed community organising as part of the fabric of our neighbourhoods and equip local people with the skills to transform their communities for good. It will expand the community organising movement to include young people from the National Citizen Service (NCS) and ambassadors for the #iwill social action campaign for 10 to 20-year-olds. The programme will also establish the National Academy for Community Organising to sustain the ongoing training of Community Organisers.

The programme enables people to be part of the Government’s commitment to create a shared society by supporting people to come together to improve their own lives and social action to become established as routine in our public services and communities.

COLtd will work with local authorities, such as Staffordshire County Council, helping them to train their staff to strengthen their ambition as an authority committed to enabling social action.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, said:

“From improving cancer services in Sunderland to creating mother and toddler groups in Southampton, Community Organisers are facilitating local neighbourhoods to help people transform their communities, creating a sense of pride and belonging in where they live.

“It’s fantastic that Community Organisers Ltd. are expanding the programme even further, helping to build a shared society that works for everyone.”

Nick Gardham, CEO Community Organisers Ltd, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build on the foundation from the previous programme. This expansion will strengthen the existing network of Community Organisers and increase the numbers of people taking action at a local level to transform their communities for good.”