The findings are released by the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) after the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of pride in place in his foreword to this week’s King’s Speech, writing: “A better future also means reinforcing people’s pride in the places they call home… We must do away with the idea that it’s inevitable some communities and some places can never and will never get better. They can – and they will”.
Fostering pride and belonging in local areas can play a key role in reducing local and regional inequality across the UK as part of Levelling Up. This pride could relate to all aspects of local life, ranging from the built environment to natural landscapes, as well as local history, culture and identity.
43 northern residents took part in the research, they were clear that they felt pride in their neighbourhoods, despite challenges. They came up with three specific factors which contribute to feelings of pride in their local area: access to basic services, sense of community and decision-making and the state of the local environment.
The research took place across five locations in the north: Blackpool (Lancashire), Moss Side (Manchester), Prescot in Knowsley (Merseyside), Benwell (Newcastle upon Tyne), and Skipton (North Yorkshire).
Tracy Harrison, chief executive, NHC said: “At the heart of this Pride in Place report are the voices of residents. They have given us a compelling evidence base that gets to the core of what makes a great place to live. Our members do far more than put a roof over people’s heads – they are community anchors and provide a community presence that is often the gateway for other important local services – helping to create places people can call home.”
The research highlights that residents took pride in their neighbourhoods:
“This area is loud, scenic and beautiful – I’m very lucky to live here. I live near a lot of older and disabled people and they’re beautiful souls. If my child is crying at stupid o’clock in the morning someone will knock and ask if I need anything. It’s lovely.” Said a Prescot resident.
Yet also highlights scepticism at the levelling-up agenda, driven by a lack of evidence of delivery on the ground:
“That’s the problem I have with ‘levelling Up’, I don’t know what ways the levelling up is being done, who’s doing the levelling up and who’s been levelled up. What would levelling up look like here?” A Berwell resident said.
The research highlights key challenges such as: the fragmentation of services, a lack of capacity across public services and a lack of visibility of housing and other service providers to residents. As well as outlining a range of specific actions that could be taken by housing providers, local councils and national government, the research highlights three solutions that should be undertaken to address these challenges –encouraging devolution of power to regional, local, and ultimately community level; rebuilding capacity in local services and supporting innovative engagement; and creating community hubs where residents want to see them.
This new research will play a key role in the NHC’s influencing activities over the next 12 months providing a robust evidence-base for the NHC to present to Government and opposition parties. Housing and other local service providers will find this a useful insight for their work within the communities they serve.
The Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) partnered with Thinks Insight and Strategy, an independent market research company to conduct this research. The work was supported by NHC member Housing Providers: Blackpool Coastal Housing, Karbon Homes, Livv Housing Group, MSV Housing Group and Yorkshire Housing.
You can read Pride in Place: views from Northern communities on the NHC’s website, www.northern-consortium.org.uk