History is powerful because we live with its residues, its remnants, its remainders and reminders. Moreover, by studying societies unlike our own, we counteract the chronocentrism that blinkers contemporary vision. That's why we cannot abandon intellectual rigor or devalue accuracy. History has an irreducible positivistic element, for its subject is real, even if that reality is evanescent and dependent upon texts. Historical writing creates objects for our thoughts, making audible what had become inaudible, extracting latent information from the objects that men and women have constructed. This materiality of historical evidence does restrain us. Imagine a willful forgetting of the Holocaust had the Nazis won World War II. Eventually, someone would have picked up the trail of clues or stumbled over the contradictions in the documents created by the victors. Texts would then replace texts, but the impetus for the change would have come from the past itself, just as scholars reconstructing the succession of post-Columbian demographic disasters had lots of evidence to go on, once their curiosity had turned in that direction. The concreteness of history is what gives it the power to compel attention, to stretch imaginations, and to change minds. Joan Appleby

The life course perspective, refers to a multidisciplinary paradigm for the study of people's lives, structural contexts, and social change, which is played out in neighbourhoods. This approach encompasses ideas and observations from an array of disciplines, notably history, sociology, demography, developmental psychology, biology, and economics. In particular, it directs attention to the powerful connection between individual lives and the historical and socioeconomic context in which these lives unfold. It centres on the following questions:-

  • What do the groups understand by ‘shared history’?

  • Do they believe there is a shared history between local communities?

  • What is their area best known for?

  • Is that something that everyone can relate to?

  • If not, what would be the focus of history if they were writing it?

People live in communities and community means different things to different people at different times. It can mean a group of friends or family, a local neighbourhood, a virtual network, a school group, a place of worship, a community association, or a cultural network that is spread across the world.

Understanding how communities and neighbourhoods can be defined is a crucial first step in thinking about organising local action or engaging with a particular place or group of people.

There are many interpretations of ‘neighbourhood’ which can lead to a healthy debate on what boundaries are most useful in bottom-up neighbourhood planning efforts. Every agency has a different logic for their definition. Neighbourhood associations and community groups offer their interpretations. A neighbourhood can also be defined by a political ward or precinct. The concept of neighbourhood includes both geographic (place-oriented) and social (people-oriented) components.City Planning departments often designate neighbourhood boundaries along census tract boundaries. And, in fact, community residents quite frequently have a very different mental map of their neighbourhood than the officially designated neighbourhood areas used by planners and policymakers. All definitions are important and meaningful. The question is how one begins to create agreement over the definitions so that the debate focuses not on boundary definitions but on how to make positive changes in the neighbourhoods defined by the streets where you go about the day to day activities of living. Defining the boundaries of a neighbourhood can be challenging and needs to reflect and bring together different, sometimes conflicting views.

However, there is no doubt that ideas about what constitutes a neighbourhood are personal. For example, neighbourhood can be used to refer to the small group of houses in the immediate vicinity of one's house or to a larger area with similar housing types and market values. At a functional level, neighbourhoods are shaped by the local services such as shops, schools, post office, pub, library, church or a local institution patronised by residents. A descriptive focus may be a geographical landmark, transport connections, work patterns, social interests and relationships with friends and family.

The communities of the South Wales coastlands grew out of small human settlements on the banks of relatively small muddy creeks and river estuaries. Those chosen to exemplify the interactions of people with climate change include: Newport, Cardiff, and Llanelli.

Communities First

Communities First is the Welsh Government's flagship programme to improve the living conditions and prospects for people in the most disadvantaged communities across Wales

How does Communities First work?

A Communities First partnership is formed for each local area. Partnership members include local councillors and staff from statutory agencies such as the local authority, Fire Service or Police; local businesses, groups and voluntary organisations such as the County Voluntary Council; and most importantly, local residents.

The partnership directs the work of a staff team who consult with the community to find out the local issues and priorities. These are written into a local action plan which sets out the main aims of the partnership and the work needed to improve the community. Area contacts for each of the Partnerships in Carmarthenshire is below on the bottom of the page.

What does Communities First do?

The Communities First programme works to address the issues needed to improve the quality of life in the local area, as identified by the local community. Although each community is different, these issues are broadly grouped into six common themes:

  • Child Poverty
  • Community Safety
  • Education, Training and Skills
  • Environment
  • Health and Well Being
  • Jobs, Business and Income Generation

The partnership and local team then work with partners to bring about changes in the local area, involving community members as much as possible in the process.

Examples of Action Plans

Neath Port Talbot

Logic for community change

A logic model is a story or picture of how an effort or initiative is supposed to work. The process of developing the model brings together stakeholders to articulate the goals of the program and the values that support it, and to identify strategies and desired outcomes of the initiative.

As a means to communicate a program visually, within a coalition or work group and to present it to external audiences, a logic model provides a common language and reference point for everyone involved in the initiative. A logic model is useful for planning, implementing and evaluating an initiative. It helps stakeholders agree on short-term as well as long-term objectives during the planning process, outline activities and actors, and establish clear criteria for evaluation during the effort. When the initiative ends, it provides a framework for assessing overall effectiveness of the initiative, as well as the activities, resources, and external factors that played a role in the outcome.