Sunday, 26 November 2006

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Living Spaces evaluation Living Spaces, a £30m grants programme for local places and spaces, was launched in May 2003, under the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the scheme evaluation has been published today. The programme exposed huge demand, much of which had to remain unmet - lending weight to the view that the neglect of the local public realm in this country in the last quarter of the last century was an avoidable disgrace. It is to this government's credit that they listened, recognised and to an extent responded. In total 1,087 projects were completed. Most addressed either inadequate facilities (30%); or neglected or derelict land (19%). The scheme claims to have involved 95,812 people in projects, and levered in nearly £46m additional funds for local projects. Most community groups were in existence before the announcement of the Living Spaces programme, but an impressive 28% were set up in response to it, so the scheme has contributed a significant stimulus in that respect. It would be fascinating to find out what happens now to the networks formed around these projects. The key evaluation findings reported are that Living Spaces has: • demonstrated that, given the right support and opportunities, people are willing and capable of taking responsibility for the quality of their local environments • given thousands of people of all ages the opportunity to get involved in improving their local environments • achieved its aim to be a user-friendly, easy access scheme that was popular with community groups • given local people new skills and confidence and encouraged them to volunteer again in the future and become more active citizens in their local area • created over 1000 new or improved public spaces and led to far wider-reaching benefits for the local community and for those directly involved in projects.

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