Community Space Challenge

Community Space Challenge was a social action project designed to help people think differently about their communities.

Community Space Challenge (CSC) was a six-year, Big Lottery-funded programme working with young people and their communities in 70 locations across England to improve local public spaces while tackling anti-social behaviour and building trust.

Voted Best Lottery-funded environment programme in 2012, CSC supported young people to gain basic qualifications and employability skills through working together on projects that brought communities together – in schools, youth centres and community centres and on beaches and housing estates.

Since 2007:

  • over 1,500 spaces have been improved
  • over 142,00 young people aged 8 to 17-years-old have put in over 146,000 hours (or nearly 17 ’24/7′ years) of volunteering
  • 3,252 young people have gone from the project to education, training or employment, and 2,534 have secured an accredited award
  • 75% of those who had been in trouble with the police reported being in trouble less or not at all since they started taking part
  • 65% of young people reported feeling more a part of their community after being involved and 84% now feel that they can make a difference to improve it
  • 79% of those surveyed said that they want to do something like CSC again in the future – that’s nearly 8,000 young people across the programme.

In 2012, additional funding from the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund enabled 15 of the original 70 project to add ‘All Ages’ initiatives that actively worked with adults and the wider community to improve local spaces. 6,000 new All Ages volunteering opportunities were created and All Ages projects generated £150,000 in donations of tools, refreshments and other resources for community space initiatives.

In 2011, the University of York conducted research into the impact of the programme. Using standard Treasury Green Book methodology, their estimates of the financial impact suggest that benefits exceeded costs by around 14% (across the70 projects) – or a net gain of around £240,000 per year across the programme.

‘Young people say they’re not into gardening/green stuff, but you start talking and doing and you see the light come on in their eyes. It’s not about age; it’s for everyone. But they don’t like the rain!’
Vinni O Connell, Southwark CSC

Although central funding for the programme has now ended, 64% of our former delivery partners are still delivering CSC.

‘This piece of ground had a stack of problems, from vandalism to a place where people came to drink and take drugs. It has been transformed by local young people and residents who have worked together to reclaim the space and to turn it into a great community resource.’
Alistair Palmer, Vicar and Chair of the Knowle West Residents Planning Group for Regeneration.