The Communities in Control study involves an evaluation of a major place based initiative rolled out in 150 areas.  In the video, NIHR SPHR’s Dame Professor Margaret Whitehead discusses the challenges of designing a public health evaluation for a national programme of this scale.

Phase 1 of the Communities in Control Study

The first phase started in January 2014 and ended in December 2015. During this period we carried out a process evaluation of Big Local. We also looked at if it was possible to conduct a longer term study of Big Local’s impacts  on healthDuring this phase we wrote up findings on the following topics:

  • How features of context (e.g. social relationships, people’s attachment to a place) influence the ways that communities come together to take action
  • Development of a framework to measure community empowerment/control
  • Types of spaces for community participation and decision making within a place based initiative
  • Factors influencing participation and inclusion of communities
  • How resident control over neighbourhood funding enables people to have a voice about local issues and the challenges of this


Phase 2:  Assessing early social and health outcomes of Big Local

The second phase of the Communities in Control Study started in October 2015 and ended in March 2017.   This phase  researched how residents work together to  influence improvements in neighbourhoods or to influence decisions taken by others.  During this stage the team carried out surveys to understand the early impacts on health and wellbeing for engaged residents. 

The project will also provide learning on how community led actions lead to change in:

  • built environment of neighbourhoods
  • social relationships between residents
  • area reputations, including media portrayals