National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research

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NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health, Research & Care

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Health Protection

NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Gastrointestinal Infections

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Members of the public actively influencing the research that is carried out

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About the study

The study involves an evaluation of a Big Lottery funded initiative - Big Local - that aims to give residents of 150 areas across England greater control over decisions that affect their local areas.  Big Local is run by Local Trust and funded by the Big Lottery Fund with an investment of more than £200 million. Big Local has the potential to improve health by focusing on important determinants (e.g. environment, neighbourhood stigma and social cohesion) and by increasing the control that residents have over actions to improve their neighbourhoods.

Who is undertaking the research?

In Phase 1 and 2, the research was undertaken by a collaboration of researchers based at SPHR.  This included LiLaC, Sheffield and Exeter Universities, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and FUSE. The overall project is led by Professor Jennie Popay, LiLaC. The research also involves close collaboration with local residents and Local Trust.

Phase 1 and 2 of the research was funded under the SPHR health inequalities programme (2012/17).  The first phase began in January 2014 and ended in December 2015. During this period we conducted a process evaluation and the feasibility work required to conduct an evaluation of the health and social outcomes of Big Local. The second phase of the Communities in Control Study got underway in October 2015 and ran until March 2017. This phase investigated how action taken by residents to improve their neighbourhoods as places to live is having an impact upon health and wellbeing of residents directly involved.   Phase 3 of the study is funded by NIHR's Public Health Research programme and will commence in 2018.

Why has this research been developed?

The most important driver for this evaluation is the growing body of evidence that low control may be a fundamental cause of inequalities in health. However, there is little evidence about effective ways to support greater control and impacts on health. Given the growing body of research suggesting that enhanced collective control can make a significant contribution to improving health and reducing health inequalities, the lack of evidence on effective ways to support greater control for communities needs to be addressed.

Latest outputs 

Download the latest project briefings and updates using the link below

CiC - Phase 2 findings update

CiC briefing - How communities are tackling poor area reputation

You can read Local Trust's response to the findings at the link below

Big Local - findings about health - part one

You can find out more about our research into area reputation here:

Area reputation and Big Local

A new website for the project with related learning resources for communities and practitioners will be available in spring  2018