A good, supportive social environment is important for people’s quality of life, and so we examine social and community outcomes in terms of interactions and trust, with both immediate neighbours and people in the local area more generally, social networks, social support, safety and trust in the local area, and people’s sense of community. These things can be changed for better or worse by public policy interventions which alter the social composition of the local area, or which change the opportunities for positive or negative social interactions locally.
Key findings to date relating to this outcome are summarised below.
Social integration of migrants
The degree to which migrants are socially integrated within the communities in which they live is affected by how long they have lived there, as well as by factors such as education, employment and English language competency: migrants with educational qualifications had better social relations than others; migrants in employment were more likely than others to feel parts of the community they lived in; and, migrants who could speak English without difficulty were more likely to have available practical social support. Indicators across the three domains of social integration – relating to trust and safety, social relations, and sense of community – improved with time, with time lived in the area having a stronger effect than total time spent in the UK.
Source: Briefing Paper 23
Perceptions of young people
Focus groups with adults found some evidence of intolerance of young people among adults but also an empathy with young people who they believed had few opportunities because they lived in deprived neighbourhoods. On the other hand, focus groups with young people found that they believed they were the object of conscious and unconscious stereotyping by adults and as a result felt they were 'damned if they do and damned if they don't'.
Despite their relocation, Outmovers from Regeneration Areas reported a higher sense of community than those people who remained living in Regeneration Areas over the period 2006-2008/9. This was true whether or not we controlled for length of residence in the analysis. Moving away from Regeneration Areas did not appear to have had a detrimental effect on feelings of belonging and inclusion.
Source: Moving Out Moving On? Chapter 6
Losing and gaining neighbours
Most Outmovers from Regeneration Areas who had 'lost' their previous nearby neighbours in the process of moving, were indifferent to this outcome, contrary to what is often reported where residential relocation processes occur. Indeed, Outmovers engaged in more neighbourly behaviours than those who remained living in Regeneration Areas, and this was true for those who retained and those who 'lost' their previous neighbours.
Source: Moving Out Moving On? Tables 6.4 and 6.5
Youth project benefits
In an evaluation of youth diversionary projects funded by GHA and LHO/RSL partners, several benefits to communities were identified by residents and stakeholders, including: reductions in reports of crime and antisocial behaviour; reductions in fire-setting; less gang activity; and increased accessibility of parks and open spaces for residents to use. In addition, participants (young people) reported a healthier lifestyle and reductions in drinking alcohol, though findings on their involvement in crime and antisocial behaviour were mixed. It was concluded that the projects needed to do more to target girls and slightly older young people around the age of 20.
Source: Briefing Paper 9
Teenagers and perceptions of antisocial behaviour
The most commonly perceived antisocial behaviour problem in our study areas in 2006 was 'teenagers hanging around on the street', identified by nearly one-in-four respondents as a 'serious problem' (Source: Briefing Paper 9). When we examined further who is most concerned about teenagers, we found, contrary to popular belief, that perceptions of teenagers as a problem decreased with age, and that it was younger adults (16-24) who were most likely to say this. Other characteristics that were more common in the concerned group were: lack of social support, neighbourly/neighbourhood contact at least weekly, more use of their GP, experience of financial difficulties, and living with young children themselves. These findings may indicate that greater exposure and greater vulnerability partly drive perceptions of problems.
Source: Briefing Paper 8
Perceived informal social control
In many of our study area types (excluding the Wider Surrounding Areas) levels of perceived informal social control - expecting someone to intervene in a neighbourhood confrontation - dropped over the period 2006-2008. Indeed, levels of perceived informal social control in GoWell areas were very low relative to national levels for England and Wales.
Source: Synthesis of Research Findings 2006-2009, Table 4
Sense of belonging
People's sense of belonging to the neighbourhood and feeling part of the community within GoWell study areas in 2008 compared favourably with similar findings for New Deal for Community regeneration areas in England. However, neighbourliness in the Transformational Regeneration Areas was relatively low.
Source: Synthesis of Research Findings 2006-2009, Tables 2 & 3
Levels of available social support (practical, emotional and financial) fell significantly over the period 2006-2008, especially in Regeneration Areas and Peripheral Estates. Notably more people in 2008 said they 'would not ask for help'.
Source: Progress for People and Places, pages 126-127
At baseline in 2006, levels of community cohesion, measured across several items (including safety, belonging, harmony, social control and honesty), were markedly lower in Regeneration Areas than elsewhere, and highest in the Wider Surrounding Areas.
Source: The Regeneration Challenge in Transformation Areas, Figure 10