Building stronger communities

Strong communities provide us with a support network and make our lives more fulfilling and connected. They help give people a sense of purpose, belonging and agency.

Strong communities are vital for all of us. But they don’t just ‘happen’. They rely on investment in the critical infrastructure that underpins them. This investment leads to economic and social prosperity, improved wellbeing, and individual and collective security.

Charities and voluntary organisations play a vital role in building strong communities. They provide help, relief and communal services. They help deliver the public services people need to live well.

They also facilitate voluntary groups and connect people with each other. They encourage and support volunteering to help people to make a difference on the issues they care about.

Invest in volunteering

Volunteers are essential. They carry out a wide range of activities which strengthen and support our communities and wider society.

16.3m people volunteered through a group, club or organisation in 2020/21. But this type of formal volunteering is in decline.

Many organisations experience challenges with recruiting and retaining volunteers. Many people also face barriers to volunteering, which means they aren’t able to give their time to causes they care about.

We want the next government to:

  • ensure organisations that involve volunteers and voluntary infrastructure are well funded across the country
  • build on evidence from the Volunteering Futures Fund to target additional funding and reduce barriers to volunteering
  • commit to funding the next phase of the Vision for Volunteering. Government should work in partnership with the sector to build and maintain a movement for change over the next 10 years.

Enable local and community decision-making

People should be empowered to make decisions about their own communities.

We want the next government to:

  • continue to devolve decision-making to combined and local authorities where appropriate
  • explore models of community and neighbourhood decision-making. This will give people more control of their local area
  • Bring forward the Community Power Act. This would:
    • create three new community rights over spaces, services and spending
    • introduce community covenants
    • establish a Community Power Commissioner
  • make sure there’s follow-up with communities and different societal groups as community projects progress.

Increase resilience and capacity

Strong communities are safe communities. They’re resilient to shocks that may occur, such as pandemics, crises, or security threats.

Charities and volunteers often play a crucial role in responding to events and supporting communities to recover from crises. The covid-19 pandemic showed just how vital charities are to community resilience.

The government has recognised the importance of charities in the UK Resilience Framework.

We want the next government to:

  • fund charities so they can continue to provide services that build community resilience and help respond to crisis
  • ensure emergency response services are inclusive and reflective of our communities
  • recognise and facilitate the role volunteers play in responding to crises. Often volunteers step in to provide the extra help government needs. But it takes resource and coordination to manage this good will
  • continue to support the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership
  • ensure the UK Resilience Framework is accompanied by clear, long-term planning and investment.

Encourage giving and philanthropy

Donations are falling and people are giving less and less to charity. At the same time, demand for charities’ services and operating costs are rising.

We want the next government to:

Share your feedback

Thank you if you took the time to share your thoughts. Your responses will help shape the final manifesto which will be shared with MPs and parliamentarians.

Sign up for email updates for news on the next stages of the manifesto.

You may also be interested in our new political campaigning guidance for charities.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 October 2023