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'2019 will show the power of people and communities'

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Right now, it feels like we’re living in an uncertain, divided world.

But looking forward I believe we’ll see more and more people and communities stepping forward to meet local challenges, through inspiring local schemes and projects, in harmony with local authorities and organisations.

Increasingly, I’m hearing about people creating their own economies, feeding their own, and bringing about change.

Some issues happening on your own doorstep are just too important – like social and economic deprivation, hunger, homelessness and loneliness. Local people can see local assets that can make dramatic changes to people’s fortunes.

There are some great examples in my home town, Liverpool, from Homebaked, a bakery co-owned by locals whose profits go towards employment and training, with leftover food given to food banks and homeless centres, to Kitty’s Launderette, a social business and community hub set up by residents, providing affordable laundry facilities.

Both have had fantastic support from local politicians, authorities and businesses, but the communities are leading it, and getting a great public response.

A sense of place and of purpose is leading to empowered people sorting things out themselves. What has started, sometimes from necessity, has now become a whole new approach.

The rise of the cultural economy, creating wealth from the bottom up, and the success of places like the Baltic Triangle, redeveloped for creative industries in Liverpool, are breeding a new, local entrepreneurial spirit.

The number of community interest companies is also rocketing across the UK, ranging from recycling schemes, nurseries, vocational training and cafes to village shops and mental health support groups. Things are changing, and everyone must adapt.

Policymakers have responded with the likes of the civil society strategy, the Community Wealth Building Unit and the strengthening of the Social Value Act. Large corporates are redefining their purpose to support communities, while councils support with a host of initiatives – just look at Preston, or the Wigan deal.

Up north we have Northern Power Women, Northern Power Futures, and the People’s Powerhouse which are all about coming together for common cause, creating movements for change, empowering people to find their voice and challenging the status quo.

For me, 2019 is all about the further rise of community and the creation of a new forms of collaboration, new rules, new expectations, new powers.

Alex Cousins, business development director, Capita

Column sponsored and supplied by Capita

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