Alnwick and the Big Society

A research project looking at the concept of the Big Society has revealed certain barriers within a north Northumberland community.

Postgraduate student Lina Shafrin used Alnwick as the focus for her study, which looked at the concept of the Big Society in the town, whether it existed and the advantages and disadvantages.

Her findings show that the Big Society concept has been alive and well in Alnwick for some time now, with a number of events involving volunteers and many groups set up due to concern for the community.

But she warns that it is dying out primarily due to the recession, which has put pressure on funding, and the apathy of youngsters in the town.

She says that while churches, charities and the public sector are doing as much as they can in the circumstances, politicians need to promote the town and the media can help projects get recognition and therefore funding.

Lina concluded with three linked recommmendations.

The first is that certain organisations, primarily volunteer-run, need professional help in technical areas such as complex funding applications or executing large projects.

Without this, there is a lack of sustainability due to a shortage of funds, so the suggestion is made to hire someone with skills to work part-time with the volunteering community.

The third issue is the lack of interest, particularly among the younger generation, but if they see that things are happening on the funding front, they may be more receptive.

Another suggestion made by Lina was that the youngsters should be given responsibility for organising an event under mentors, to help in motivating them, ‘forming a slow and steady path in influencing the community to come together’.

Now Lina wants to expand her research to survey the population of Alnwick as this first study was based on a number of face-to-face interviews and focus groups.

The survey is online now at searchproject