Written by
Dr Sinéad Fitzsimons

The Cumberland Lodge Report, Resilient Communities, examines opportunities for fostering social cohesion, in ways that help communities to be more resilient to disruptive events and developments and to reconfigure more effectively in their wake.

It summarises key themes and best-practice recommendations that emerged from our independent research, and a roundtable conference at Cumberland Lodge in February 2020, in partnership with The Young Foundation. These ideas were reviewed and refined at an expert consultation we convened, virtually, in May 2020, during the UK’s lockdown, with conference representatives and further specialists.


The report marks the culmination of many months of research and dialogue, drawing on the wisdom and experience of an interdisciplinary representation of academics, policymakers, business leaders, NGOs, frontline community practitioners, activists, and young people, from across the UK.

This project was launched before we knew the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, and nobody could have foreseen quite how timely the discussions would prove to be. We believe that the ideas explored in this report are particularly relevant for helping to inform the short- and long-term response to the pandemic, and we hope that our recommendations, in particular, will be useful as we face this crisis together and seek to build a better future.

The report's author is our freelance Research Associate, Dr Sinéad Fitzsimons, Education and Development Research Officer at Cambridge Assessment.

Report launch

Resilient Communities was launched virtually, via Zoom, with a panel discussion, featuring guest panellists Ali Amla (Trustee, Solutions Not Sides), Dr Sinéad Fitzsimons (author of the report), Helen Goulden (Chief Executive, The Young Foundation), and Neil McInroy (Chief Executive, Centre for Local Economic Strategies). An audio-only version of the report launch is available at the bottom of this webpage, and on podcast platforms.


A digital copy of the full report can be downloaded in pdf format from this webpage.


  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should lead and publish a clear mapping of the current decision-making processes related to local infrastructure (transport, services, education, housing, urban/rural planning, etc.).
  • Small-scale charities and social-purpose organisations must be supported in order to survive and transition during the period of financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Leadership training should be made freely available in every locality.
  • The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should mandate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contributions and an evaluation of Social Return on Investment (SROI), especially for large companies and businesses.
  • The Government should introduce mandatory community stakeholder engagement and participatory processes for all infrastructure and policy changes occurring in its locality.
  • Proactive measures should be put in place to raise the status of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic voices within UK communities.
  • Public institutions and publicly funded third sector organisations should be required to undergo an 'anti-racism inspection' of their daily practices, work structures, services, policies, hiring and promotions.
  • To overcome primary digital exclusion, the government must ensure that all individuals who wish to have digital access are provided with it.
  • To overcome secondary digital exclusion, digital training and support should be made available to all community members.
  • Local authorities should be stripped of the ability to sell or repurpose community assets - such as public and communal spaces.
  • A public space threshold should be introduced, to ensure that public space is available to community members in all boroughs, districts and counties in the UK.
  • The Government should commit to ensuring active business growth hubs in England (across all 39 business growth areas), Scotland (working with Business Gateway Scotland), Wales (working with Business Wales) and Northern Ireland (working with Invest Northern Ireland), and support the growth of communities and social businesses.
  • The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should offer greater support for local business, to support community resilience.
  • The Government should commit to introducing a minimum threshold of voluntary community and social enterprises (VCSEs) on each high street.
  • Central and local government should introduce a 'right to operate' model.
  • Local authorities and those in the economic development sector should read, learn from and implement the Rescue, Recover, Reform framework from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies.
  • Public funding and monitoring bodies should implement participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) processes.
  • Local community members should be involved in the monitoring and evaluation of community projects in their local area.
  • Funding and monitoring bodies should work with project teams when devising evaluation processes, to ensure that the processes accurately assess impact.
  • Public monitoring and evaluation methods should be published and subject to a regular review cycle.
  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government should fund the development of a community project database of community projects and initiatives that receive public funding.
  • Public funding schemes should use streamlined funding applications and a central database for funding opportunities, and have access to a sample of completed applications with a streamlined structure.
  • Research and policy analysis groups in the public sector should conduct further research into the impact of local community development initiatives.
  • Tax reductions or other incentives should be offered to research groups, think tanks and higher education institutions, to encourage pro bono research.
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Published Date
30 July, 2020