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Heart of the community

What next for our local assets?

Onward’s Social Fabric research has demonstrated the important role that keystone civic assets, from pubs to sports grounds, play in fostering a sense of community and belonging. These assets provide a place where local people interact with one another, creating the small-scale acts of neighbourliness that bind communities together. And yet one of these crucial community spaces is under particularly acute pressure: the local Post Office.

The number of Post Offices has declined rapidly,  making it harder for many older and less digitally-savvy people to take out cash, receive their pensions or benefits, or make postal orders. Worst of all, the decline has been sharpest in rural areas where local people rely more heavily on Post Offices for access to cash and where the types of physical infrastructure that underpin strong communities, as detailed by Onward’s Social Fabric Index, are weakest.

So what more can be done to support community hubs, from pubs to Post Offices, to stay open? How can ministers harness the power of such hubs as part of their plans to revitalise our high streets and restore pride of place? And how can we use community spaces to support local people to deal with challenges facing the country, such as the cost of living crisis?

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October 3, 2022


Library of Birmingham, Room 102

This event is kindly supported by Post Office


  • Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland, Secretary of State for Wales
  • Miriam Cates MP, Member of Parliament for Penistone and Stockbridge
  • Peter Foster, Public Policy Editor, Financial Times
  • Imogen Sinclair, Director, New Social Covenant
  • Richard Taylor, Group Corporate Affairs and Communications Director, Post Office
  • Richard Fleetwood, Postmaster
  • Will Tanner, Director, Onward (Chair)