'Regeneration', 'mainstreaming', 'community involvement', 'evidence-based policy', 'public service reform' - all are terms central to the government's policy programme for tackling social deprivation. But what do they mean in practice for people living in areas of multiple deprivation?
This report describes how Community Links, a community organisation in Newham, East London, has worked over the past seven years to give these terms practical meaning through its Social Enterprise Zone project.
The report revisits the original proposal for Social Enterprise Zones made in 1996 and reflects on how the idea has adapted to the policy environment under New Labour. It describes the setting up of a pilot Zone, started in 1999, and presents case studies of the ideas generated, how they have been tested and what their impact has been. Finally, the report explores how the project relates to wider debates about the role of communities in developing evidence-based policy and the desire to make more effective use of mainstream budgets to tackle deprivation. A new model of policy making and service delivery is proposed.
Matthew Smerdon is Director of Community Work at Community Links and was Project Manager of the Social Enterprise Zone from 1999 to 2002. David Robinson founded Community Links and is now Senior Adviser.
The need for change; The tools for change; Realising change; Enduring change: lessons, challenges and next steps