TCC is very proud of the work it has done in the field of community cohesion. In the last three years it has worked with many local authorities to tackle the issue of poor communication and weak local engagement which leads to perceptions of unfairness and disaffection in some communities. It is clearly up to the politicians to respond to some of the symptoms of this disaffection, however a lot can be done to tackle the real underlying causes that lead to poor community cohesion in the first place.
The approach that we have developed is now very much in the mainstream. It involves deep insight, emotionally resonant communications and the recognition that staff and local residents have a key role to play in communicating authentic local messages to a wide range of people in their own community. Rather than repeat it in detail here, a succinct summary of the approach was recently set out by outgoing Barking and Dagenham Chief Executive Rob Whiteman in Municipal Journal.
Cohesion can be impacted by a number of factors, but at its core there is often a sense of unfairness combined with a lack of trust. In the coming years smaller budgets and the need for service transformation as a result of Total Place programmes will mean that community cohesion could be put under even more pressure. One of the key advantages of the programme described by Rob Whiteman is that it is not about vast revenue costs or bricks and mortar investment but about making better use of the important local resources to hand – namely hard-working local staff and the people networked up at all levels within the local community.
Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for the Campaign Company