The problem

The UK has some of the deepest and most persistent levels of geographic inequality in the developed world.  Successive regeneration programmes by governments have failed to shift the underlying causes of those disparities. 

Onward – the Centre Right Think Tank looking at the performance of previous regeneration initiatives concluded:

“Looking at previous regeneration initiatives in this country and abroad, and find that the most successful schemes focused on smaller geographic areas such as neighbourhoods, invested in community capacity over the long-term, and helped communities take ownership of local assets.”

Decades of de-investment in local resources and support for community groups and charities has stripped away the ability of local people to be agents of their own change. Many communities no longer believe in the possibility of a better future.  

There are no quick fixes for the complex and embedded barriers to change and every place has a set of unique circumstances.  This is patient work and where change needs to be designed with communities and be right for the complexities of the local context.  We need to embed a culture and practice of learning and responding to that learning as we design and deliver change.  We need to help local people be local leaders, shifting power and responsibility progressively and investing in building the social fabric and infrastructure that enables people to act. 

“We need to fundamentally change the way we work with communities. We need to work to their strengths while transforming the system to enable long term, sustained improvement. We need a change in both practice and mindset from those who enable and fund the work.”

Emily Sun
Place Matters

There are no quick fixes for the complex and embedded barriers to change and every place has a set of unique circumstances.

The solution

Supporting places across the UK to enact the changes they want to bring about. Enabling individuals and communities to work together on a collective approach.

Place Matters is a partnership of organisations committed to accelerating the impact of place-based change through learning. Incubated by another Big Changer, Right to Succeed,  the collective have come together with a shared commitment to use their experience and knowhow to accelerate the practice and impact of change led by and with communities.

Within the next two years, Place Matters’ ambition is to support practitioners and organisations looking to collaboratively bring about transformational change to their places, and create more favourable funding, commissioning, and policy environments for place-based working.

The team will do this by creating dynamic learning opportunities across places, providing a platform for the voice of place-based teams, as well as bringing funders, commissioners and policy makers into the conversation.

From funding roundtables and symposiums to place-based development events and workshops, Place Matters will build networks, share insight and learnings to drive place-based transformation across the UK. 

As they work with places and gather insights, they will build this into an evidence base for the sector to build influence and greater demand and funding for this work across the country.

Place Matters is a partnership of UK and international practitioners invested in building the capacity for change in the UK. The core partners and advisors are:

  • Tamarack Institute in Canada which builds capacity and empowers tens of thousands of community changemakers to achieve greater impact. They work with 400 communities and have a membership of 37,000 practitioners.
  • Right to Succeed – a UK backbone organisation delivering place based transformation in children and young people’s outcomes using the collective impact framework, across the UK.
  • Renaisi – a social enterprise specialising in place-based consultancy and research organisation, and experienced in the evaluation of place based work and in providing coaching and learning partner support to places.
  • Government Outcomes Lab – a practice-based research organisation based at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford, co-funded by the Office for Civil Society.
  • West London Zone – a charity supporting children and young people across the West London community to develop social, emotional and academic skills, and funded through a collective of social investment and local philanthropy sources.
  • Global Black Thrive a charity tackling the racial inequalities that negatively impact on mental health and wellbeing, originally in Lambeth and growing to other places in the UK 

The Big Changers

Jo Blundell – Place Matters. Jo has a background in UK public sector and in designing and delivering transformation through collaboration and through engagement with people with lived experience and citizens. She has an MA in Service Design from the Royal College of Art and is a Design Associate with the Design Council.  As a Fellow of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University she co-authored ‘Are we Rallying Together. Collaboration and public sector reform.’ Jo is co-founder and co-director of Place Matters. 

Emily Sun – Place Matters. Emily has a background in working with organisations in the social, health, and education sectors, that are interested in building cultures, leadership and teams where collaboration, learning and innovation can flourish.  She specialises in working with people and organisations that are focused on community centred, multi-stakeholder approaches to enabling places to regenerate and thrive. Emily is co-founder and co-director of Place Matters.