What is the issue?
The Institute for Community Studies will seek to overcome three key challenges:
- The absence of community voice in determining ‘What Matters?’ to support strong communities. Research repeatedly surfaces the frustrations of communities who not only a lack of ‘voice’ but also a lack agency and control or over the decisions which affect their lives and the places they live.
- Policy makers, funders, intermediaries and increasingly businesses, are continually seeking to better understand how to work much more effectively with – and to understand better what is working well – in different communities. But our collective knowledge and learning about ‘what’s working’ is not accessible or widely shared.
- While there is general acceptance of the value of ‘lived experience’ and the rich forms of its expression, people’s stories and experiences are still devalued against other kinds of evidence in decision and policy making processes
What will the project try to achieve?
The Institute for Community Studies will support collaboration and act as a cross-sector co-ordinating body that:
Promotes rigour and understanding about ‘what’s working?’ to support communities, through the curation of existing knowledge, evidence and insight
Prioritises community perspectives on ‘what matters?’ when it comes to commissioning policy and research questions;
Identifies key gaps in our collective understanding and cross-sector networks of organisations who care about taking action;
Gives greater legitimacy to qualitative data, community expertise, stories and perspectives as a form of evidence;
Directs academic research activities to areas where there is demonstrable, expressed community need and social value; and
Disseminates findings effectively and widely as an impetus for evidence-based action.
Who might be interested in this project?
- Policy makers across central and local government
- Businesses and corporate organisations seeking to improve and innovate their community engagement practices
- Trust, foundations, philanthropists and investors wishing to grow initiatives that build civic capacity, connections, social and economic resilience in communities across the UK