The Big Society Network

exists to support and develop talent, innovation and enterprise to deliver social impact.

By working with business, philanthropists, charities and social ventures we believe we can unleash the social energy that exists in the UK to help build a better, healthier society.


Nexter News: Town funds its own regeneration

News from Stephen Fry, Martha Lane Fox and Wales’ rugby heroes step up to transform community.

The ex-mining town of Glyncoch, South Wales, has become the unlikely pioneer of a “crowd-funding” movement that harnesses private funding for community building projects. After spending seven years chasing state cash for a much-needed £792,000 community centre, residents turned to, an award-winning new initiative and one of our Nexters, to reverse their fortunes.

With tens of thousands still to raise before their grants expired, the town appealed to local families, celebrities and businesses to fill the void.

Their success this week, after Tesco contributed the final £12,000, raised hopes that Spacehive’s model could help revive hundreds more community building projects hit by the economic downturn.

State spending on such projects, from sports facilities to parks and playgrounds, is estimated to have halved from a pre-recession average of £500m a year, according to the British Property Federation.

Glyncoch’s campaign was boosted by comedian Stephen Fry who asked his four million Twitter followers to each donate “the cost of a cucumber sandwich”, Martha Lane-Fox, the government’s “digital champion” and co-founder of, and Welsh comic Griff Rhys Jones.

Fresh from their Six Nations triumph, the Welsh rugby team also encouraged people to dig deep. Yesterday Captain Sam Warburton said: ”We think what Glyncoch has done is amazing and an inspiration to us all. We’re right behind the community.  The regeneration of this town – which has produced so much rugby talent over the years – is another victory for team Wales!”

Corporates including Deloitte, Asda, and Wales and West Utilities quickly added to the pot, alongside local businesses from the coach firm to the golf club. Henry Engelhardt, founder of Admiral Insurance gave £10,000 through the Moondance Foundation, and Tesco finished the campaign off with a £12,000 donation.

Residents themselves dug deep, raising thousands through street collections, bingo nights and even a sponsored silence by the town chatterbox. Pledges came as far afield as Newfoundland, where a Welsh descendant pledged £100.

As the community celebrated yesterday Deputy Mayor Doug Williams said: “We’re absolutely ecstatic that by summer we’ll see a state-of-the-art centre offering the types of training and education that will kick-start people’s ambitions.

“Glyncoch is a deprived area; people are used to being let down. Now people are thinking ‘we can get out of this rut.’”

“It’s not just the project, the whole process has brought people together. The attitude of the community has changed.”

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, from the Tesco Charity Trust, the retailer’s charitable arm, said: ”This unique project shows just how much communities can achieve when they work together. We’re delighted to help the people of Glyncoch reach their target.”

The Big Society Network, and the Nexters programme which supports some of the UKs best social entrepreneurs, helped the local community reach corporate and philanthropic backers. Steve Moore, CEO of the Big Society Network, said: “This is a great example of the Big Society in action. Look what can be achieved when local residents, local business, big business, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs work together for one common goal galvanized by the power of technology. It’s a great success”.

Spacehive aims to shake up neighbourhood planning by allowing anyone to pitch proposals for community building projects and anyone to pledge funding through  Funders are only charged if the project goes ahead.

The model, co-designed by Deloitte, means the cost of popular projects can be split between hundreds of individuals, businesses, and councils.

Projects in Spacehive’s pipeline range from new playgrounds to the transformation of a derelict East London dock into a creative hub and marina.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme founder Chris Gourlay said: “I think this success in Glyncoch, one of the UK’s most deprived towns, really shows the potential power of Spacehive’s model in helping communities to transform where they live”.



About the new centre:

· The new Glyncoch Community Centre will provide a clean, safe, versatile facility that benefits all ages.

· Create a ‘gateway to opportunities” by boosting access to skills and education by an estimated 33% (People & Work Unit). Businesses and community organisations will pump innovative training programs and skills workshops into the new centre in a bid to reverse unemployment rate, which is 4 times higher than the surrounding area.

· Workers Educational Association, University of Glamorgan, and the People and Work Unit will run training and employment-related workshops.

· Young to old will have access to modern IT facilities, a games room, cheer-leading classes, Taekwondo, bingo, luncheon clubs, and fitness sessions. The centre will also provide facilities for the community to play 5-a side football, badminton and netball for the first time.

About Glyncoch:

· Originally built as a housing project for miners, Glyncoch remains isolated from key services.

· 46% of people are unemployed, 29% live with a long-term illness and 16% have never worked.

· In an index of Welsh deprivation, Glyncoch is ranked 39th most deprived out of 1,896 areas – within the lowest 2%.

· Glyncoch is an active community with over 200 people registered as volunteers, generating on average 37,000 volunteering hours annually.

About Spacehive:

· Spacehive is a new online platform that allows communities to collectively fund capital public space projects. The service allows anyone to put forward a project proposal and anyone to fund it – from local businesses and families to councils and corporates.

· The aim is to inject new sources of funding and creativity into public spaces.

· Projects range from skate parks, gardens and community centres to high street makeovers.

· People who pledge money only pay if the project hits its funding goal. So it’s a risk-free way for people to support great schemes.

· Spacehive was co-designed by Deloitte under a pilot initiative to support social businesses. Deloitte provided pro-bono experts in planning and accounting to help develop Spacehive’s model.  The pilot has since evolved into a large-scale programme to support 50 social businesses per year: Deloitte Pioneers.

· To find out more visit;  Chris Gourlay, Founder.

About Nexters:

Nexters is a Big Society Network initiative designed to support and sponsor successful innovative technology enabled services that help communities share and engage with each other across a range of social activities.




Share this blog:

Share This Share on Facebook Share by Email

Leave a reply

7 + 5 =