Monthly Archives: December 2012


by Bruce Comer

East Carolina University’s Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building Program will continue to aid in the development of local communities with low income and limited resources. The program was developed to join ECU’s connections to state funding with the university’s resources and…

East Carolina University: where Capacity Building remains part of the lexicon of social change and community development, and doesn’t get airbrushed out of policy.

Bruce Comer | Tumblr: East Carolina University Is Committed to Supporting Community Development


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December 24, 2012 · 4:40 pm


Social Enterprise as Strategy for Community Development

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December 24, 2012 · 4:21 pm

The impact of manufacturing closures on WIMD and Communities First

Last year I blogged in a work capacity on the publication of the 2011 Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (available here or yma).

My main thesis was that areas in Wales appearing at the top, i.e., most deprived, end of the new Index do so because of the credit crunch and resultant recession and the way that it impacted on manufacturing, in particular, in 2008, the first half of  which was when the underlying data comprising the Employment and Income indices were collated (though other years’ data comprises other indices, these are weighted less). In essence the WIMD was a snapshot of an aberrational year, though no doubt the effects of the recession linger on and will continue to do so.

Lots of ‘new’ areas appeared at the top of WIMD, but they overwhelmingly concentrate in the two manufacturing heartlands of Wales: north east Wales and the M4 corridor.

M4 corridor:

Pyle/Pil, Blackwood/Coed-Duon, Church Village, Treorchy/Treorci, Llandaff North/Ystum Taf, Cadoxton/Tregatwg, Shaftesbury (in Newport/Casnewydd)

NE Wales:

Connah’s Quay/Cei Connah, Sealand/Gwlad y Mor, Denbigh/Dinbych, Oakenholt, Gwersyllt and Penycae (both in Wrexham/Wrecsam), Prestatyn, Cefn Mawr, Ruabon/Rhiwabon

Consider that there is already significant deprivation in NE Wales, i.e., areas in the Communities First programme (e.g., Flint Castle/Castell Y Fflint, Holywell/Treffynnon, Shotton and parts of Wrexham/Wrecsam and its surrounding villages) and along the M4 corridor in the principal cities and north into the valleys, then the direct impact of manufacturing closures and their indirect impact (ancillary services, supply chains, reduced neighbourhood spend etc.) appears to have been particularly pernicious.

Even a cursory online search of manufacturing closures from 2008 cites examples such as Fenmarc, Kimball, Flexsys, Paramount Foods, Bosch, Burberry and AB Electronics.

Ever since Communities First status was awarded automatically to the 100 most deprived electoral divisions identified in the original 2000 publication, there has been a close association between the programme and WIMD. This has not changed. Many of these new LSOAs will be eligible for Communities First status from April 2013, if not before. However it will be interesting to see whether the next WIMD data sees these areas fall back down to a more ‘real’ rank in the WIMD as the impact of job loss programmes such as ReAct, the benefits system, enterprise zones and support from employers themselves ameliorates the effect of these job losses. They certainly ought to have an impact by helping to cushion the blow of redundancy and help them into other employment (though whether this offers work of equal or worse pay and conditions is another question). So that these areas need help is without question, but is it the sort of help that an anti-poverty programme like Communities First offers, inclined as it is towards areas with deeply-rooted, multi-generational poverty rather than areas experiencing a relatively ephemeral shock?

This is not to downplay the impact of these manufacturing closures. Indeed, one might argue that an inability to recover from such employment shocks with replacement industries and/or employers helps poverty take root. It was interesting to recently read about the proposed joint work between a pair of new Communities First clusters in a borough and an Enterprise Zone which is largely coterminous with one of them.

The next WIMD will make interesting reading, and we are already approaching the half way point in the usual cycle of publication of a new index.

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‘Salon’: Not (necessarily) that sort of salon, this is a new entry to the lexicon of community development for me even though the article on which the blog is based is over 20 years old. Nonetheless it demonstrates how valuable and effective simple, well-organised and well-facilitated meeting and chatting space can be.

An aspect of community development…the salon

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December 3, 2012 · 10:00 am

If something is intuitively a good thing to do…then it probably is?

You must have heard the report earlier this week about how New York City reported no violent crime in a 24 hour period for the first time in living memory. This article in The Economist postulates why the broader trend of declining violent crime in US cities has happened.

It refers to ”Operation Ceasefire” a project initiated to cut gang violence in Boston, Massachusetts. One of its core tenets was that:

the most violent gang at any given time would be relentlessly targeted by police until it was effectively neutralised, followed by whichever gang then rose to the top of the list. This creates competition among gangs to refrain from lethal violence

The conditions are nurtured so that gangs compete to not be violent. Wow. It is disarmingly simple. A politician must love it! It is almost a magic bullet: getting tough on a visible target and generating a virtuous cycle for the better at the same time.

Interestingly the article also takes umbrage at the culture of cost benefit analysis. Here the social impact of initiatives such as Operation Ceasefire are expressed in financial terms as well as social (or environmental). This is interesting on this side of the Atlantic because in Wales the Communities First programme is adopting the Results Based Accountability framework as a way of evidencing its impact on a range of social indicators in the most disadvantaged communities in Wales.

The Economist concedes that though the impact of what it calls “betterment programmes” can be difficult to evidence, there should be scepticism about demands for “scientifically valid evidence”. In essence, it argues, if something is intuitively a good thing to do then it probably is.

Might this be something we in Wales would do well to remember? It should also serve to galvanise the community development sector which in the face of public sector cuts is under unprecedented pressure to demonstrate its value for money.

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