The report, Together for Communities – experiences from partnerships, transforming neighbourhoods was launched by HACT on Thursday 24 November at the Commonwealth Club.
The launch brought together many of the community anchor and housing association partners from the Together for Communities project, as well as other project delivery partners, housing associations and policy makers, to demonstrate the value and impact of a partnership approach with an emphasis on the role that housing providers can play as part of this agenda.
Speaking at the launch, Tom Walker, Deputy Director of Decentralisation at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) highlighted how key reforms within the Localism Act will impact on neighbourhood-based approaches, and the importance of opportunities for greater collaboration between housing providers to achieve this.
Walker referenced Cameron’s vision for the Big Society, which is to make it easier for people to come together in local communities to solve problems, much in the way some of the partners did in Together for Communities. Walker said:
“The story Housing Associations can tell about what they do is way ahead of many others of those in the [local] space” and that many of the Together for Communities partnerships exemplify that.
Steve Wyler, Chief Executive of Locality, taking part in the panel discussion which also included Caroline Forster of the Adventure Capital Fund and Mike McClusker of Fresh Horizons, said this has been an important issue talked about for a long time, and the importance now is to put it into action through housing associations and community drivers for change. However, this takes leadership, determination and a common shared vision, with all partners “in it for the long term”. A key component for success will be capitalising community action at a local level.
A lively question and answer session followed the panel discussion, and considered various issues in more depth, including unpicking the drivers for change within housing associations, the levers for influence to develop partnerships between housing associations and community groups and the potential of housing associations to develop local communities, through capacity building support, making property available and faciliating leadership development.