Cumberland Lodge publishes cross-sector report on Resilient Communities

Our report calls for ‘a new social contract’ supported by public and private sector collaboration and targeted funding

Photo of people of all ages embracing in a circle, with a blue ribbon connecting them

Cumberland Lodge publishes its cross-sector report on Resilient Communities today, in partnership with The Young Foundation.

It outlines 24 practical, policy-focused recommendations that respond to recent events and developments in the UK, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Grenfell Tower fire, the Windrush scandal, and the global climate and refugee crises.

Resilient Communities draws on the collective experience of policymakers, business representatives, academics and research students from a range of disciplines, young people, faith leaders, activists and civil society practitioners, to examine ways of helping communities in the UK to become more resilient. 

It provides a series of research-backed ideas for helping communities to respond to, and reconfigure in the aftermath of, disruptive events and developments.

‘A new social contract’

The report’s author is Dr Sinéad Fitzsimons, who we commissioned as a freelance Research Associate. Sinéad is Research Officer in Education and Development at Cambridge Assessment, a department of the University of Cambridge.

Sinéad said: ‘This project has highlighted that funding alone will not lead to long-lasting community development. Increasing funding will make a difference, but more importantly, that funding needs to be used effectively. Both the private and public sector must work together to ensure that community-focused and community-driven approaches are at the core of any development initiative.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted additional challenges for communities. Although we could not have foreseen what would happen when we started this work, in many ways it is the ideal time to share the recommendations that have emerged, since the way many people think about community life is already changing.

‘A new social contract is needed that promotes greater equality, increased opportunities and wider collective action to create a more secure and sustainable future for all communities across the UK, including community members that have previously been forgotten or disenfranchised.’

Digital resources

The report’s key themes and recommendations are informed by interdisciplinary research into community resilience, and intergenerational discussions convened by Cumberland Lodge in February 2020 and May 2020.

What’s in the report?

Resilient Communities is published in two parts. Part I reviews the existing research and examples of best practice, highlighting challenges to community cohesion and resilience in the UK and approaches to strengthening it through collaborative and active citizenship, faith-based communities, the arts and culture, sports and community leisure, business and entrepreneurship, and education. 

Part II of the Cumberland Lodge Report presents 24 specific recommendations for UK policymakers and practitioners, to support greater community resilience. These are grouped around five key ideas that emerged from the cross-sector conversations and research carried out earlier this year:

  1. Fostering stronger community leadership and decision-making
  2. ‘Widening the circle’, to hear more voices
  3. Developing and increasing community spaces and community ownership
  4. Focusing the monitoring and evaluation of community resilience on meaningful impact
  5. Building on shared wisdom, to help create a better future.

The Executive Summary opens with the following introduction: ‘Over the past five years, the resilience of the UK’s communities has been tested in extraordinary ways. Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Grenfell Tower fire, the Windrush scandal, and the escalation of the climate crisis and the refugee crisis have all affected UK communities. In some cases, these events have brought communities closer together and illustrated solidarity and camaraderie. However, in other cases, these events have emphasised and intensified inequalities, community tension and systemic injustices.’

‘A timely analysis’

In his foreword to Resilient Communities, Canon Dr Edmund Newell, Chief Executive of Cumberland Lodge, writes: ‘Resilient Communities provides a timely analysis of how social cohesion can be fostered in ways that support community resilience. We hope that it proves useful for guiding and informing policy and practice, both now and in the future.’

Helen Goulden, Chief Executive Officer of the Young Foundation, said: ‘This report makes strong and clear recommendations for supporting stronger communities as we emerge into a long period of uncertainty and recovery. Like never before, we are seeing the potential of a society and economy with community and well-being at its heart.

‘At the Young Foundation, we understand that it is the twin power of imagination and implementation – of both thinking and doing – that creates positive social change. This report presents another clarion call for action to which we should all be paying attention.’

Resilient Communities is launched at 3pm on Thursday 30 July 2020, with a panel discussion and open question-and-answer session online, followed by virtual networking with guest panellists and contributors for those who have registered in advance to take part in Zoom.

Report launch

Guest panellists for the report launch include:

  • Ali Amla – Trustee of Solutions Not Sides
  • Sinéad Fitzsimons – Author of the report
  • Helen Goulden – CEO, The Young Foundation
  • Neil McInroy – Chief Executive of CLES, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies