Inspiring communities: customer insight research report

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Dept. for Communities and Local Government
Date of publication
1 June 2011
Community Development and Regeneration, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

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The Inspiring Communities programme, sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government, has been designed to raise the expectations and aspirations of young people, in order to help them to maximise their potential. The programme, which is aimed at 11 – 14 year olds, aims to mobilise community-wide action to support young people and to help them develop and succeed. The overall objective of the programme is to improve the educational attainment of young people within 15 deprived neighbourhoods, namely Barking and Dagenham, Barnsley, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Bradford, Bristol, Cumbria, Folkestone, Grimsby, Colne, Manchester, Thetford, Rotherham, South Shields and Stoke on Trent.

TNS-BMRB was commissioned to undertaken customer insight research to understand the barriers and motivators of young people towards education. The research assessed the attitudes of young people, their parents and those in the wider communities, in terms of their aspirations, and any barriers to achieving them. Further, young people’s perceptions of school and work were examined, including their views on the value of education and training.

The research design incorporated three key elements: an initial stage of four friendship based mini-groups of young people and two focus groups with parents; the second stage comprising an ethnographic research exercise with children and their key influencers; and a final stage of depth interviews with teachers, local business representatives, community workers, local authority representatives and third sector workers. Each of these elements was undertaken in all fifteen areas. A total of 685 respondents took part in the research.

The research shows that a real challenge for the Inspiring Communities projects is not only to find a way of helping young people to overcome the barriers to achievement, but also to help them break out of negative comfort zones which have become normalised in their minds, and in the minds of other key influencers in their lives. Stakeholders and key influencers need to work together to provide the necessary life skills young people need and to dispel the fatalistic attitudes which many young people had about their futures.

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