Autumn 2010

The challenge

We were asked by the Department for Communities and Local Government to deliver leadership training as part of the Connecting Communities programme. This involved helping councillors and senior officers to understand community cohesion in their local area, and supporting them in providing leadership and in engaging effectively. It was particularly focused on understanding longstanding white working-class communities.

How we approached it

Working to an extremely tight timeline, we set out to work with 31 English councils over a three-month period, delivering Leadership Training projects in each. These were developed to suit local needs, but all involved an in-depth research phase followed by workshops.

The research phase used Values Modes system to recruit segmented focus groups in wards with lower levels of community cohesion. We also used staff focus groups and collected video interviews of local residents discussing their areas. We delivered feedback and used interactive voting sessions to give practical direction to the results.

What happened

The outcomes helped councils develop a solid basis for a range of councils to begin addressing cohesion. This came on the eve of a period of tight budgets, when frustrations and divisions within communities were beginning to take hold in many communities.

TCC undertook a challenging and far reaching research programme to help us understand the scale and complexity of falling cohesion in over 30 areas across England. Their pioneering insight not only gave us an accurate, high definition picture of how people felt, but crucially their analysis explained why they felt as they did. Their work helped shape practical interventions that gave local government their employees and others in positions of responsibility the confidence to tackle underlying issues, build rapport and rebuild trust.

Rt Hon John Denham MP former Minister for Communities and Local Government