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HEA4 - Playing an active role in the community

HEA4 - Playing an active role in the community


The city is committed to making Plymouth a fairer city where everyone does their bit. This can only be achieved if communities feel supported and engaged.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka
Photo by Kelly Sikkema
Image Devonport Park


The city will enable engaged and supportive communities by:

  1. Providing joined up and effective support at the request of communities from the most appropriate organisations to:
    1. Improve access to the information, advice and evidence needed to support collaborative decision making and ensure communities and voluntary organisations are informed of their rights.
    2. Promote self-help and targeted volunteering through the Cities of Service programme to support locally led solutions, reduce the need for 'professional help' and support positive outcomes for all.
    3. Encourage intergenerational dialogue to create greater understanding and empathy between generations within communities.
    4. Encourage health and cultural opportunities that are community led or involve communities and increase the quality of life for residents.
  2. Supporting communities that wish to improve their local areas by:
    1. Providing guidance on the most effective tool to achieve their intended outcomes over the long term.
    2. Devolving budgets where possible to enable community aspirations to be delivered or facilitation of shared decision making, such as participatory budgeting.
    3. Providing guidance and support to those communities who want to protect local services, own assets or run services in the city.
    4. Recognising and supporting the benefits of temporary and meanwhile uses of empty shops and public spaces that can add value to local communities.
  3. Supporting children and young people's rights to play an active role in the civic life of the city and provide opportunities for the residents of Plymouth to recognise and celebrate the creative talents of the city’s younger generation.
  4. Ensuring that as a city we understand and recognise the social value and impact that the voluntary and community sector make and that there is a joined up approach to attracting investment.
  5. Sharing knowledge through open data and information which enables communities to have informed engagement, make suggestions for changes and initiate actions relating to their services and lifestyles.


The city is committed to making Plymouth a fairer city where everyone does their bit. This can only be achieved if communities feel supported and engaged.

The communities and social networks to which a person belongs can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. The link between a person and the community in which they live can help to build the social capital (community networks and resources) that makes communities strong, including for example reducing health inequalities, better educational attainment, better employment outcomes and increased community safety.

A more engaged city means that local people, including children and young people, feel well informed and able to influence change that takes place in their local communities. Consultation results should be published and open for others to use and share where possible. A more supportive and informed community means that people feel fully engaged and empowered and they are better able to support one another through targeted volunteering and initiatives that celebrate and encourage local talent and build relationships. This results in communities that are less reliant on professional assistance and intervention.

Both formal and informal volunteers play a fundamental role in delivering a Healthy City. In 2013, the Plymouth Guild brokered over 4,000 volunteering arrangements in the city and the Cities of Service initiative has developed five separate volunteering programmes since 2014 resulting in over 500 people contributing voluntarily to the city. The Mayflower Makers volunteering training programme will train over 400 people to be the ambassador for Mayflower in their community and will create a legacy of social action in the city. Plymouth aims to build on this volunteering goodwill to target areas of greatest need, for example to help tackle food poverty, and reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Other interventions, such as encouraging people to take up cultural activities within their community can also improve peoples' health and wellbeing. For example, for older adults it has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety in cardiac patients and shorten hospital stays for inpatients. Therefore supporting community led cultural activity that involves local people will significantly contribute to a healthier city. This is supported by the Mayflower Community Sparks funding programme that will encourage communities of geography, interest and identity to contribute to the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Communities and voluntary organisations have a number of tools to influence or control what happens in their local area or how services are delivered. For example, they can apply to run services or council buildings, list assets of community value to give extra time for them to prepare to purchase assets on the open market, get permission to build housing or other assets, and ask for public assets to be transferred into community ownership. By the end of 2018, eight community assets were successfully registered on the Council's asset list using community right to bid powers.

Community planning of local areas supports local solutions and local investment to develop sustainable places to live. This can be supported through processes such as neighbourhood planning and neighbourhood development orders as well as other community plans.

It is important that communities are supported to deliver their aspirations. This requires organisations to work together to meet and prioritise their needs and ensure that information informing communities of their rights and opportunities is clear and freely available. It is also important to have a better understanding of the voluntary and community sector, alongside implementing a more strategic partnership approach towards supporting the growth of the sector and the role they play in meeting future needs. This includes a joined up strategic approach to attracting funding and investment to support the sector.

Where possible and appropriate budgets should be devolved to a community level to enable this. In addition, communities have the opportunity to consider how to mitigate the impact of development through the use of Community Infrastructure Levy receipts, a proportion of which are allocated for spend in the neighbourhood where the development occurs.

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