Community hubs for local services

A community hub is a multipurpose centre, such as a community centre, medical centre or school, that provides a range of high quality and cost effective services to the local community, with the potential to develop new services in response to changing community needs.

Community hubs can provide a means for alternative approaches to service delivery – underpinned by the principles of community involvement and partnership.

Community hubs are…

Community-led

  • Local people are involved in decision making about how services are run, how buildings are managed
  • Also support the delivery through volunteering
  • Typically managed by a community-led organisation, but alternatively they can be owned or managed by a public agency such as a housing association or local authority with substantial input from the community.

Multi-purpose

  • Community hubs are multi-purpose, providing and hosting a range of activities and services that are used by lots of different people
  • The range of services reflect local need and may be delivered by local people, other organisations or public agencies – for example:
    • Parent and toddler groups
    • Health and wellbeing activities – exercise classes
    • Employment support
    • Childcare
    • Library services
    • Advice and information.

Making use of local assets

  • Community hubs utilise local buildings and land to provide a base for these activities
  • These can be assets acquired through Community Asset Transfer (for example: an old school, sporting ground or town hall)
  • Other hubs are created as a result of new development through community-led building projects.

Enterprising and resilient

  • Community hubs need an income to be sustainable
  • A range of income sources are usually required to cover the costs of running the building, maintenance, such as:
    • grants
    • donations
    • hiring out space
    • delivering contracts
  • Effective community hubs make use of good ideas and resources within the community and can adapt to changing circumstances.

Benefits of community hubs

Community hubs can benefit the community in many more ways that only providing services. They can:

  • Help build more cohesive and resilient communities
  • Build better and more integrated services
  • Transform existing, unused buildings
  • Provide a focus for community-led regeneration

How do you set up a community hub?

There are eight steps to setting up a community hub:

  1. Understand local needs and demands
  2. Establish a clear vision and mission with your community
  3. Develop partnerships and relationships
  4. Develop your strategic objectives
  5. Develop a business model for your hub
  6. Secure support and resources to make it happen
  7. Acquire any assets required
  8. Establish an appropriate governance structure.

Sustaining a community hub

  • Check your governance
  • Diversify your income to develop resilience
  • Keep an eye out for grants
  • Service contracts
  • Asset based income
  • Adapt to the changing needs and environment
  • Maintaining quality services and assets
  • Demonstrate your impact and social value
  • Maintain relationships

Examples of community hubs:

Getting help

Locality can assist with one-to-one business support for groups interested in setting up a community hub. Find out more here.

View our slideshow on community hubs