Little Big Societies: micro-mapping of organisations operating Below the Radar

Working and Briefing Paper 71

TSRC’s micro-mapping study reveals a large and diverse number of community organisations operating  ‘below the radar’.

Our research mapped community activity within two very small geographical areas of England. We identified 58 community groups operating in and around just 11 streets. These are groups that do not appear on regulatory listings and tend not be included in statistical analyses of the third sector.

The groups identified deliver diverse services and activities geared towards specific interests and target communities, but also have much in common. Most are embedded into their local community and operate within a very specific socio-cultural context. They are unlikely to be suited to the delivery of wider public services, but they are already delivering services to their immediate local communities.

The study also reveals   

  • The innovative and flexible ways that small community groups generate resources, by ‘tapping in’ to their own users and ‘tapping out’ to others 
  • While groups often exist for their users, many also ‘give out’ to their wider community, locally or in other countries 
  • The importance of shared space, which enables groups to draw on the help and resources of others  

The study used tools adapted from the well-recognised work of LOVAS (Local Voluntary Activity Surveys) in the 1990s that aimed to look at the entirety of volunteering.

Research contact

Andri Soteri-Proctor