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What Works?

Throughout 2021 we're hosting a series of WHAT WORKS? webinars, talking to practitioners, politicians and policy experts about building material hope. By learning from people with first-hand experience freezing out the far right, creating local identities or changing narratives, we'll be exploring what works and what doesn't in fostering resilience.

On this page you'll find our webinar recordings, learning documents and presentations. If you want to catch our future presentations, sign up to our Towns Leadership Network here.

The unwanted attentions of the far right can pose a big challenge to community resilience in a town. They threaten the happiness and safety of residents, potentially damaging an area’s reputation and sense of pride. But how do you drive out those sowing hatred and division? And how do you rebuild trust and recreate a positive sense of identity?

With the populist radical right often honing in on areas that are experiencing change for the first time, it’s easy for decision-makers and local leaders to be caught unawares. At this event we hear some of the lessons learned by authorities that have been targeted by the far right in the past. We talk through the warning signs to look out for, the pitfalls to avoid and the strategies that worked. And we discuss how a place can change the narrative afterwards.

Read more about Webinar 1 and watch the full recording.

A positive sense of place is intertwined with how confident, welcoming and optimistic a town is. This often feeds directly into cohesion and community resilience, and into residents’ attitudes to change and difference. Our previous research has found this. Places with fewer heritage assets or a less clear historical identity are more likely to be hostile towards migration and multiculturalism.

At this event we hear about this question from practitioners and experts. How do you create clear narratives for where a town has come from and where it is going? And how do you take this beyond branding and image, so that place identity carries genuine meaning and is robust in the face those promoting division.

Read more about Webinar 2 and watch the full recording.

The state of the public realm is inextricably linked with resilience. Everyday problems around living environment can fuel pessimism and increase hostility to change. Often, this gives a foothold to the far right. This applies whether we’re talking about boarded up houses, empty shops or closing pubs.

At this event we will hear about this question from practitioners and experts. What works when it comes to stimulating pride in the public realm? And how do you do this if you’re operating against a backdrop of economic decline or low social capital? How can specific approaches – be they grass roots arts projects or strategic initiatives by the local authority – make a difference?

Read more about Webinar 3 and watch the full recording.

Hostility to migration and multiculturalism can be exacerbated by local economic pressures. This applies to job opportunities, housing availability and access to services like health and education. The more these things are stretched, the easier it is for hostility towards immigration and multiculturalism to take hold. This is especially true in areas with recent migrant populations - with the far right able to point the finger at newcomers or claim that certain groups are going to the front of the queue.

At this event we hear from practitioners about steps to address narratives of scarcity. We discuss measures to reduce service pressures and create economic opportunities - as well as ideas for contesting negative narratives.

Read more about Webinar 4 and watch the full recording.

Misinformation in local areas often acts as a catalyst to tensions. This takes various forms – ranging from hearsay about minorities being favoured by the council to misunderstandings around the cultural practices of new groups. Rumours tap into grievances and undermine trust in decision-makers. There is a clear offline element to this as well as an online one, but the online element has become more pronounced thanks to COVID-19.


At this event we heard from practitioners about the challenges these issues pose and the steps they have taken to try and counter local-level conspiracies. It is the fifth in our Hopeful Towns ‘What Works’ series.

Read more about Webinar 5 and watch an abridged recording of the event.

Discussions about diversity, immigration, culture and race can be the most difficult conversations you have at the community level. Often, they relate to demographic changes in the area or to tensions and flash-points that have arisen. Conversations that were supposed to be about one thing can rapidly end up being about something else, with surface-level issues acting as a lightning rod for deeper anxieties.


At this session we adapted our difficult conversations training for local authorities and community practitioners. The session offers practices that can help ‘difficult conversations’ to be productive and positive.

Read more about Webinar 6 and watch recording of the event.

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