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‘We shouldn’t lose sight of how powerful people can be when they come together’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, or so the song tells us. From the London bombing to the Covid-19 community action groups, Britain has a rich history of people rolling up their sleeves and doing it for themselves.

Moments when people’s power has flexed their collective power are often overlooked, but a new online project is setting the record straight as it celebrates eight decades of community development.

“It is very easy to write the history of institutions, who was elected when and what was created when, but a lot of what is really important to us is not always the most important thing,” said Matt Leach, executive director of the organization. charity Local Trust. , which offers the Lottery-funded Big Local program, distributing £ 1 million to 150 communities in need. “It’s the small scale, the things that make your community feel like a better place to be.”

Local Trust commissioned historian David Boyle to create a free online timeline chronicling 80 years of community power, from the 1940s to the present day. Boyle’s curation of more than 300 events includes such notable moments as the black workers who faced job discrimination in the 1960s in Bristol, the first community-owned pub in 1983, and the thousands of self-help groups that were formed in 2020 in response to the pandemic.

“One of the good news stories coming out of Covid it was the way people connected in communities across the country, whether it was on Facebook or WhatsApp, or just hanging out with their neighbors, “Leach said.

“While for some it came out of nowhere, it actually has a very rich history. We must not lose sight of how powerful ordinary people can be when they come together and want to make a difference. “

From the timeline: moments of community inspiration

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