Communities Driving Change: Our Journey to Systemic Change

The Tower Hamlets Communities Driving Change (CDC) programme is a new way of supporting communities to thrive, in a borough where health inequalities are rife. It’s a new type of relationship between institutions and residents, and a change to who has control over local health and wellbeing priorities. It’s about working in an open way and moving away from traditional programme delivery models. Through CDC, we want to genuinely change the way people work – in every part of the ‘system’. This report explores our journey as a programme taking a ‘systems thinking’ approach, including our ‘big picture’ view, working to build strong relationships, equalising power, and continuously reflecting and learning. It covers CDC to date pre-Covid and highlights the importance of working with all players of the system – individuals, groups, charities, service providers, local authorities and more – to support communities to drive change.

You can download the report here. The report was co-authored by Thomas Wastling at FutureGov.

We invite you to consider how your community functions as a ‘system’ – which people, organisations and services exist and in what ways are they connected or unconnected? What might be blocking things from happening, or could enable changes to be made? What root causes are at play and how might they be interconnected? Feel free to use the tools shared in this work to map your ideas and start the conversation. We call on all players – from community activists, to businesses, local authorities and more – to think about their role in creating change, to reach out to one another, and embrace the approaches and recommendations outlined in these reports. Now more than ever, we need to be working collaboratively and in new ways which promote continuous learning and adapting. We call on power-holders to listen to the experiences and insight of the local people they serve, and to be responsive in times of great challenge and change. It is only together than we can move towards recovery.

This is one of several projects The Young Foundation has been working on alongside communities, pre- and during the Covid pandemic, looking ahead to the future.

If you would like to find out more about the Communities Driving Change project, or how you can get involved. please contact Senior Programme Manager Isabel Young on