I’m surprised that the NESTA Neighbourhood Challenge, to be launched on Tuesday, hasn’t attracted more attention – since it promises Big Society funding for local areas.
I don’t have more information than that in the invite (below), but it looks like a programme in which areas will be invited to compete for funding for Big Society initiatives. Shades of Michael Heseltine’s City Challenge programme of 1991? I would be very surprised if this initiative were not planned in No 10.
If so, it looks like a smart move on the part of the government, because not only will it benefit the ten areas who get the funds, but also do something for the Big Society “brand”.
Talking the other day to an academic with a long memory of government support for community engagement, we discussed how to get good publicity and positive word-of-mouth mentions when you don’t have big marketing budgets. His answer: hand out small amounts of money, and make it competitive so people have to be polite about the process if they are to benefit. Be nice about people who are already doing the sort of thing you want to see happen. Help people tell good stories.
I’m not being cynical here: it makes a lot of sense to pilot new approaches, and learn from those before releasing further funds.