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Started: December 2014
Website: http://goldthorpeboltonbiglocal.org.uk
Location: South Yorkshire

Goldthorpe and Bolton­on­Dearne Big Local is part of the Big Local programme, run by Local Trust and funded through the Big Lottery Fund. The partnership is led by residents who can access £1 million over 10 years to positively change their community. By giving money directly to the community, it allows local people to find better solutions to local problems than top-down, one-size-fits-all national policymaking allows.

The small group who came together to form the partnership board in late 2014 knew an important community issue was the number of empty properties left to fall into disrepair by absent landlords.

The group decided to purchase several empty houses, train apprentices to refurbish them then let them via the local housing association. The aim was to provide jobs and accredited training for young people and to create quality affordable housing that will remain a community asset for years to come.

In May 2015, they found a landlord willing to sell four empty properties and began renovating them in January to let by July 2016. This is a real first for resident-led action and is having a positive effect on the whole community as they address the blight of homes lying empty. Working on projects in their own community has galvanised residents and local businesses, while the skills the apprentices gain are key to reviving job hopes for young people in the area.

The board of residents is already helping other similar communities by running study events and visits, responding to demand from other parts of the country looking to replicate their success.

“It’s about deciding what local people, not agencies, want. We saw the potential for doing bigger things.” Residents’ Board.