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Neighbourhood Challenge: One year on

We go back one year on to find out what happened to the projects after the intensive programme ended.

  • We found that in two thirds of the areas there are signs that the projects are sustaining their activities in some way, some are going beyond this to grow and scale up their impact both on in their own areas and within other communities too.
  • Funders can play an important role in stimulating local innovation by shifting their relationships with communities to be an ‘enabling’ one that helps communities achieve their own goals rather than pre-defining those goals.
  • They types of activities that create new networks and help reveal and draw together new skills and connections tend to show signs of sustaining and strengthening the community once initial funding has been drawn down.

Neighbourhood Challenge was a year long Nesta and Big Lottery Fund programme. Launched in October 2010 with an open call to community organisatations across England, it was based on the assumption that communities everywhere have untapped potential, and that given support and finance they can become active sources of inspiration and activity, rather than passive beneficiaries.

Seventeen diverse organisations across England, all working in areas of low social capital, were selected to explore how this could work on the ground for an intensive funding period over one year; followed by further mentoring support as requested.

The programme learning strategy was developed with learning lead Icarus; and the coaching and support offer with mentoring lead NCVO. Throughout the project we brought groups together to share what they learned, and asked them to keep open learning diaries through a series of blogs. We also carried out some informal interviewing and surveying to reach further into their communities.


Alice Casey, Nicola Stenberg

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Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Head of New Operating Models

Alice leads on a portfolio of work looking at how technology is transforming communities and civic life.

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