Community Hubs in Lancashire and South Cumbria: Emergence, Development and Next Steps Research Project: Final Report

Rutherford, Benedict, Zerbian, Tanya, Dooris, Mark T orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5986-1660 and Froggett, Lynn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8406-6231 (2023) Community Hubs in Lancashire and South Cumbria: Emergence, Development and Next Steps Research Project: Final Report. Project Report. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Background, Rationale and Community Hub Characterisation

This report summarises research into the emergence and development of community hubs within Lancashire and South Cumbria (L&SC). The project has been funded by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and was developed following discussions with the Partnerships Manager at Community Futures – the Community Council of Lancashire.
The phrase ‘community hub’ has existed for a number of years and usually relates to a range of community initiatives, including community centres, community spaces, and many other projects that provide services to a community [1, 2]. Most of these initiatives have originated in the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector. However, since the proliferation of community hubs during the COVID-19 pandemic, hubs operated by district-level local authorities have emerged in greater number. These are perceived to have been a successful response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, and to have reduced barriers to communication between organisations and led to an increase in partnership working [3]. In L&SC there are a couple of large programmes being developed by public bodies such as Lancashire County Council and the local NHS foundation trust that build on the theme of community hubs.

The range of initiatives that the phrase ‘community hub’ can refer to has created some confusion amongst members of the VCFSE sector who are unsure how these programmes will affect them and what role, if any, they may be expected to fulfil within them. At times there is little agreement (and some tautology) over what constitutes either a ‘community’ or a ‘hub’ – ‘community’ indicating the constituents served by a hub, and ‘hub’ referring to the nature of the community initiative in question.
This report begins by outlining the geographical parameters of the study in the context of the L&SC Integrated Care System (ICS) before considering definitional issues, drawing on insights from the literature and our research interviews. It then sets out the study’s aim and objectives, summarises the study design and methods, and acknowledges some limitations. It goes on to introduce the ‘landscape’ of community hubs, before presenting findings from the qualitative data collection – examining the development of community hubs; motivations and drivers; challenges; facilitators; and public-civil society tensions.

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