A living archive for community resilience in the North West

About A living archive for community resilience in the North West

Our Vision

To establish an accessible, open access, creative commons archive of materials relating to creating sustainable and resilient communities based on the publicly funded and extensive work undertaken in the North West in community development and neighbourhood regeneration over the thirty years up to 2010, most of which is currently unavailable and is held by former practitioners in the region. To be widely and actively publicized for learning for hopeful futures.

Progress to date: A substantial archive now exists and is on offer and has been thoughtfully box listed.


From the early 1970s, until 2010, a series of government policies and programmes in England – from both sides of the political spectrum –  recognised the importance of community empowerment, engagement and resilience in a number of fields; employment, diversity, environment, learning, place management, arts & sport, cultural and geographical communities.  Focused at various scales – regional, local, neighbourhood, household and individuals – and  on various demographics and communities of interest, these initiatives were primarily funded by central and local government.  That funding almost entirely dried up.

The advent of the coalition Government in 2010 changed all that.  Funding was withdrawn, policy changed and existing websites shut down.  Within three years, almost all of this experience, evidence and expertise was lost and has yet to be rebuilt.  Arguably, the legacy has resulted in a breakdown in community, increased disaffection with Government and the establishment, a growing hostility to ‘the other’ and, coupled with falling incomes and diminished employment conditions, was a contributory factor in the Brexit vote.

The need for local support proven by these programmes is well evidenced in a wide number of Government evaluations and academic studies. 


The loss of this intellectual capital has had severe consequences.  In particular, closing down the websites which, by 2010 had become the primary means of publication and dissemination, has major consequences.

It is proposed to establish a regional interactive archive of good practice and to make it available to policy makers, researchers, practioners, professionals, educational institutions (primary, secondary, tertiary and adult), volunteers and community activists.

The core of the archive would initially consist of physically published reports, documents and materials collected by a small number of experienced community focused professions who worked in the region between 1970 and 2010.  These include: Helena Kettleborough and Phil Barton. Others will be asked to contribute their materials and experience. It will be an aspiration to create an archive which can link with other similar such archives digitally.

Progress to date

The material would suit Masters and PhD research in place, regeneration, community development, health, diversity, including gender equality, social justice, inclusion and business.

Key actions needed to achieve vision

Such an archive would require a suitable host organization and initial funding to catalogue and digitize the material, create as an interactive archive with creative commons licensing and with a small partner steering group. It would be necessary to establish how and when other collections could be added.

Progress to date

With the active support of Jeremy Parrett, Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections Archivisit, the archive has been boxed and sorted into broad categories. A number of exploratory conversations have been held within Manchester Metropolitan University and Kew National Archive Collection.  These and other contacts are now being actively explored.

Geographical location

Most of the material relates to the North West, an amount is national. Some of the archive documents will have corresponding material produced in other English regions. RENEW NW was part of nine Regional Centres of Excellence and North West Together We Can part of nine Regional Empowerment Networks.

Workshops to date

Archive Project Materal

Hulme Girls Project

Tameside Womens’ Unit

Middleton Pride

Stockport Social Inclusion Unit

North West Together We Can

North West Wardens Network

Groundwork North West

Community Technical Aid Centre

Mersey Basin Trust

National Centre for Business and Ecology

Groundwork UK


Keep Britain Tidy