Residents Across the North Come Together to Talk Pride in Place

From Benwell to Blackpool, Moss Side to Skipton, and Prescot in between, the last few weeks has seen the Northern Housing Consortium’s Member Engagement and Policy teams on a true northern tour. We’ve been joining our members Blackpool Coastal Housing, Karbon Homes, Livv Housing Group, MSV Housing Group, and Yorkshire Housing as part of Pride in Place, our research project placing residents at the heart of the discussion on what a rebalanced country should look like at the local level. Partnering with leading global insight and strategy consultancy Thinks, we’ve brought together around 50 residents, including social and private sector tenants, across five locations to hear what ‘pride in place’ means to them, and how we can all work together to make a positive impact in neighbourhoods across the North.

The work continues against a backdrop of current and prospective Governments fleshing out their approach to the intertwining issues of civic identity, inequality, and the social fabric. The Government’s Levelling Up agenda has in many instances been built around the idea that “the most powerful barometer of economic success” is the “positive change” people see and “the pride they feel in the places they call home”. The Secretary of State’s latest intervention on housing underlines the role of both people and place; democratic decision-making and working in partnership to enhance local character. Similarly, the Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy has been at work advancing Labour’s plan for regional rebalancing, rooted in the local and built around the core themes of economic resilience, labour market connectivity, environmental sustainability, and communal as well as personal wellbeing.

But notions like pride and belonging are loose terms that can mean many things to different people. The NHC’s recent Rebalancing Webinar Series displayed the full role NHC members play as vital anchor institutions cutting across, for example, physical improvements to the built and natural environment, skills and training support, and community initiatives that empower local residents. With many acknowledging the difficulties in defining, measuring, and evaluating local pride. The NHC initiated Pride in Place as part of our work, alongside our members and their residents, to highlight to all political parties the contribution of our members to making great places.

Devised by Thinks with guidance from the NHC and partner members, workshops were designed to learn more about how people in different neighbourhoods across the North felt about their areas and their views on what makes an area worth living in; what participants prioritised in their lives and the role of different groups in delivering on those priorities whether NHC members, the third sector, Government, and residents themselves. In a final task, participants worked together on a series of ‘desired outcomes’. If they oversaw a hypothetical centralised and fragmented funding pot, where would it be spent? Who would need to be involved? And what could the community take charge of right now if they were empowered to do so? This wasn’t necessarily about identifying individual projects, but thinking broadly about the future people would hope to see for areas like theirs across the North.

We’re incredibly excited to share more, but this is only the end of Stage 1. We’ll be soon joined again by participants from each Workshop location to share common themes and learning as well as work collaboratively with invited stakeholders to develop key pillars of pride. Findings from both these sessions will inform the development of recommendations to the sector in how we engage communities on our placemaking work, but also to Government, showcasing the full breadth of how NHC members contribute to regeneration in the broadest sense, tackling inequalities, and overall, improving community belonging. You’ll soon be seeing the NHC at Party Conferences in the Autumn and November’s Northern Housing Summit will see the launch of our final report.

Pride in Place forms part of the Northern Housing Consortium’s work to ensure housing sits at the heart of a rebalanced country. Further updates can be found on the NHC’s dedicated Rebalancing Webpage. If you have any further questions please contact Liam Gregson, Member Engagement Manager –