What?

The Hopeful Towns Project is a new programme building resilience to division in towns across England and Wales, where feelings of loss and decline are giving hatred a foothold in some of Britain's strongest and proudest communities. Starting with three flagship towns, we're developing on-the-ground, people-led frameworks that will drive real, material change in our partner communities and lead the formation of national policies to challenge hate through hope.

Working with community leaders, grassroots groups and local and national government, we will:

  • Identify effective local approaches to hope and resilience, and learn how to replicate and develop these in communities across England and Wales.
    • Establish clear policies and interventions that can be applied to different sizes and types of town.
    • Create mechanisms for sharing ideas and best practice across towns through a Towns Leadership Network.
    • Develop a national position on community wellbeing and cohesion in towns, influencing governmental policy through:
    • Creating a set of recommendations on fostering resilience and inclusivity in towns, and taking a holistic approach that brings in everything from local industry to housing to identity.
    • Build momentum behind these recommendations through a national working group that champions the importance and relevance of town communities.

Why?

Our Fear, Hope and Loss report explored the drivers of hate, racism and xenophobia in Britain. What we found was that in communities which have lost out most to globalisation – particularly isolated coastal towns and post-industrial communities facing the decline of staple industries - a sense of hopelessness is making people vulnerable to hateful, far-right rhetoric.

There is no need to pander to prejudice in addressing the strong tide of anti-migrant sentiment. Given that the areas with the most hostile attitudes are those with some of the lowest levels of immigration in this country, reducing numbers of immigrants alone will have little impact on the rising tensions in many British communities. Instead, we need to pair a strong anti-racist, pro-immigrant message with material, sustainable change that challenges the growing, justified sense of loss and decline in communities across Britain.

It will be challenging, lengthy work, but we believe that Hopeful Towns offers a real opportunity.

Where?

Hopeful Towns is based in three flagship communities. We're bringing together local leaders in government, charity and business - responsible for everything from health, social care and housing to town planning and industrial strategy - to create holistic, sustainable approaches to resilience.

When?

Now!

We're spending 18 months building community networks and local committees, working with them to develop long-term frameworks for material change. The next step is to support our networks as they transition into self-sustaining, permanent presences in their communities, advocating for national policy change and disseminating what we've learned in communities across Britain.

Hopeful Towns is a community-led, evolving project that will only become more important as Britain continues to grapple with both political and economic uncertainty - as such, there's no better time to get involved than right now.

Who?

Hopeful Towns is run by HOPE not hate Charitable Trust and the Centre for Towns, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Our team consists of a Rosie Carter, Chris Clarke and Chris Fairley– if you'd like to get involved drop us a line at [email protected].