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In the wake of the economic recession, many local communities are challenged by cuts to neighbourhood services, by the closure of local amenities and by the decline of the high street. In the face of these difficulties many local people are taking matters in their own hands; across England there are examples of communities coming together to set up businesses that improve their local areas: saving local shops from closure, setting up community centres to provide a place for people to meet, and developing community-led housing to help regenerate local areas.

Power to Change want to enable more people to take this approach and are providing practical support to encourage new community businesses to start and enable existing ones to grow and becoming more self-sustaining. At the heart of their vision and mission is the devolution of power to local communities.  

We agree that these organisations present a unique way of truly empowering local people and providing solutions to some of the most significant challenges faced by communities. This vision aligns with the RSA’s belief that all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment, we all have the Power to Create.

Over the next two years the RSA will be supporting the Power to Change vision of ‘better places through community business’ by exploring the unique leadership challenges faced by people within these organisations. Along with our delivery partners SUMS and RIO we will provide a leadership programme for community business leaders that combines leadership training and expertise with fast-track connections to experts and industries that may otherwise be inaccessible, and will provide a platform to showcase the work of these business and their leaders as they create the communities we want to live in and be part of.

This programme will touch on all three areas of change the RSA is focussed on and build on the work of previous RSA projects such as Connected Communities, and ‘People Shaped’ Localism which highlight the importance of the uniqueness of communities in devolution.