Today we launch our Community Savers/CLASS 2023 Impact Evaluation!

Community Savers and CLASS are a cross-class alliance between a majority women-led poverty action network and a tailored professional support agency. We follow a learning-by-doing methodology (inspired by, where regular reflection and evaluation is critical. We conduct an annual impact evaluation between January and March each year; and this report captures our outcomes and learning during January to December 2023.

Here, we share some highlights.




The building blocks of the Community Savers movement are majority women-led and community-based savings clubs. Weekly savings collections create a space for our members to save small amounts while also accessing a range of other activities and information and discussing the issues facing their local community.

Here’s a snapshot of progress in 2023.


Leadership development and community-building is at the heart of the Community Savers methodology starting with the financial resilience and wellbeing of our individual members, moving up to confidence and skills development among group committees leading to stronger community associations, and networking community associations together for a stronger collective voice on the issues affecting their neighbourhood and beyond. We are proud of the solidarity and collective purpose and voice that emerged at local levels and across the whole network in 2023!

Women of Wythenshawe = WoW!

Women of Wythenshawe brought together 37 local women leaders from ten different community and service user groups across in 2023. The women are representing a broad range of interests and identities including Carers; SEND parents; women with autism and learning disabilities; women seeking asylum or recently granted leave to remain;survivors of domestic abuse; and women from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Over the first 18 months, leaders have invested significant time in building trust and confidence and skills development, including through bi-lateral exchange visits between the groups, extensive storytelling and listening work, and the development of shared values. Women have coalesced around four priority areas for community action on gendered poverty in Wythenshawe (and Manchester more widely). These are:

  1. improving the way that public sector workers identify and respond to domestic abuse;
  2. achieving a higher ratio of ecologically sustainable social homes;
  3. building the capacity of Wythenshawe schools to provide good quality SEND support; and
  4. supporting the development of women-led social enterprise

“CLASS’s inclusive approach to convening the WoW network has been commendable. By actively involving women leaders from diverse backgrounds and communities, CLASS has created a platform where all voices are heard and valued.” WoW Support Worker

Miles Platting Community & Age-friendly Network (MPCAN)

MPCAN first formed in 2019 with support from CLASS following discussions with community groups about how residents did not fully understand the local developments taking place under a PFI initiative and how they were anxious about the future.

“MPCAN at the beginning had a formal purpose to facilitate and promote community action. The meshing of older and newer populations, lack of facilities, swimming pool and library- there was a sense that this was a bit bleak, so we needed to cooperate.” MPCAN Leader

MPCAN currently has three action groups and we share some of their brilliant achievements in 2023 below.

Climate Action: Members organised “Our Green and Pleasant Land” Climate Resilience Pageant in July and were delighted to then be one of the grantees for the Greater Manchester Green Spaces Fund. Funding was awarded to develop a wildlife corridor in Miles Platting with support from Dr Jenna Ashton, University of Manchester. Plans for the wildlife corridor are well underway. Project lead Suzanne Walton from Groundwork is carrying out ongoing consultations with residents around the four key sites to determine what kinds of additions they would like to see, from trees to wildflowers to hedging.

St. Cuthberts Communities Together: MPCAN have developed a partnership with the Parochial Church Council of St Cuthberts to re-imagine the church site working with Locality and Participate! as project managers. A community consultation has been carried out and initial concept designs developed, the Bishop of Manchester has put his support behind the project, and MPCAN and PCC have now applied to register a new charity to manage the project called St Cuthberts Communities Together. The vision includes a worship space, NHS joint services centre and a multipurpose social centre with a small amount of social housing. These were some of the infrastructure and services that were supposed to be delivered under the original PFI neighbourhood plan.

“The enthusiasm, the skill set that is being brought to meetings, the funding that has been attracted to the wildlife project and now for St Cuthbert’s. We have built up now into being a serious project that people are willing to fund.” MPCAN Leader

Social Homes for Miles Platting: MPCAN launched this new campaign in October, with a focus on claiming plots of public land that were earmarked for facilities and services for community benefit under the PFI. The current focus is a plot of land that was supposed to host a joint services centre and community hub. Over 200 people attended their consultation day which was followed by a march to the site and a demonstration on 28 October 2023. The Executive Member for Housing will meet residents to discuss the plot in June 2024.

“We look out for each other – if someone is poorly or down, we make sure they are ok. I like to have a sense of achievement – but that we’ve achieved together. It feels good when we get these small wins, and now we are going for much bigger ones! Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have dared, we just fought for people to get their repairs done. Now, we are aiming high. And it’s good and it feels good. And to be honest, sometimes it goes over my head, but if I don’t understand stuff I say so, and I can also look on the internet now.” MPCAN Leader

Community design & build

A tenant-led community space in Hulme: Following two years of advocacy and partnership working driven by tenant leaders with Aquarius Community Savers, One Manchester Ltd have agreed to renovate a ground floor three-bedroom apartment into a community space. The space aims to combat social isolation and mental health challenges experienced by older and vulnerable people at Hopton Court tower block in Hulme, Manchester. The renovation is set to commence in summer 2024. Cornbrook Medical Practice evidenced during our research in 2021 that one third of Hopton Court’s tenants were suffering from anxiety and depression and the neighbourhood has some of the worst health inequality statistics for Older People living in Deprivation in England.

Beyond the St Cuthberts redevelopment, Community Savers & CLASS have continued to support two further community design and build projects in 2023. Leaders across the network have learned a lot from these processes including a large dose of patience as each initiative has experienced significant delays!

A women-led community space in Wythenshawe: Participatory design work to renovate a derelict Caretakers flat into a women-led social space began in 2019. Progress was slow due to COVID and long delays within the internal processes
of acquiring a lease from the Methodist Church. After agreeing the Head Terms for the lease in July 2022, Mums Mart and CLASS have learned a great deal from two years of further negotiation! We are delighted to have recently signed the lease and work is due to commence in June 2024.

The completed project will create a free to use community space for women’s groups across the Wythenshawe area for at least ten years. Our thanks go to the National Lottery Community Fund without whose support and patience this project would not have made it to the finish line! We would also like to
thank the Smallwood Trust and the Women of Wythenshawe assessment panel who
approved a small uplift grant to cover recent cost inflations.


According to data collated by Shelter, there were 15,268 households on the waiting list for social housing, 3,926 children in temporary accommodation, and 7,773 people recorded as homeless in the City of Manchester in 2023. Yet, between 2012 and 2022 only 506 out of 23,364 new build homes were for social rent. Together with partners, we have formed a coalition of ten VCSE and activist/residents’ groups called Social Homes for Manchester which is making the following six requests of Manchester City Council as they prepare the new Local Plan for the city:

  1. At least 30% social homes included in all new developments of over 10 units to be enacted in local policy and enforced through the setting and enforcement of section 106 obligations.
  2. Stronger public accountability and scrutiny for the setting and enforcement of developer obligations to build new social housing.
  3. Establish a Commission on Social Housing for the City of Manchester.
  4. Develop a practical strategy for the promotion of Community Led Housing.
  5. Develop a practical strategy for the renovation/transfer of empty homes into homes for social rent.
  6. Ensure all new developments are climate and nature friendly.


Bishop of Manchester David Walker has agreed to chair the new Manchester Social Housing Commission. Our asks and the Commission itself are supported by the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing at Manchester City Council; and we are in the process of recruiting Commissioners. The Commission will remain rooted in local campaigns and the process itself is aimed at mobilising resident/community coalitions across the city to hold local, regional and central government administrations to account for the recommendations that are developed. The other members of the coalition include: GM Community Led Homes Hub; GM Tenants Union, Greater Together Manchester, Shelter GM, Mustard Tree, and Steady State Manchester. We are excited to have also recently joined the national Homes 4 Us alliance.


In the main report you can also read reflections from the Community Savers leadership and our partners on progress, co-governance, and what we have learned about community action, as well as our plans for the year ahead, so don’t forget to:


Excerpts from ‘What have we learned?’

“Community action is easier with the support of a whole network.”

“Community action brings people together, it can result in real change that is actually needed. Its powerful as it comes from within our communities as we are the experts we know what will work and what is needed. It feels really good when change happens from within our communities – it can bring pride and improve wellbeing and confidence. Community action can also be really uplifting and fun.”

“I’ve learned about the way the council operates… both the politicians and the officers.”

“The importance of bringing the groups together so we have a bigger, louder, voice. The more of us, the more voice we have, the more the decision makers have to listen.”

“I have also learnt a lot from some mistakes we have made e.g. don’t go to planning meetings and trust that the council is going to work with us with the openness that
we offer them.”

“Bringing together a knowledge of who to go to: that kind of intelligence is important… we’re getting a checklist of where is useful to go to.”

Excerpts from ‘Reflections on co-governance’

“I think it’s really good the way we co-govern and share the decision making. We feel like we
are listened to and more involved. We get to make them choices… We get all the reports and everything we need. If we can’t attend a meeting, we get all the updates.”

“It’s working well: everyone is happy with the decisions because it is equal – we have lots of
opportunity to talk about what’s going on and if we agree. Everyone’s voice is heard.”

“I have really loved representing Savers at the trustee meetings. I have learnt a lot about all the groups that CLASS supports and how the charity is developing. The leadership team is a great way of making shared decisions.”

“We work well with CLASS…You’ve taken time to get to know us all individually and you give us the support we need. Like me, people telling me I lack confidence. But I can do it. I’m good at what I do. I say it as it is and not everyone can cope with that, but CLASS has never had a problem with this. They take a personal approach they make sure you are ok that is all part of it as well. It’s like we are a big family.”