2.2(c) Mapping power


To build up a picture of who has power to make things happen in the community.

You need

As in 2.2(a) Mapping Places and at least an hour.

What to do

Cartoon illustrating topic

You should now have a mass of information on the places and people that go to make up your local community. But how are decisions made which affect the community? Who decides what money is spent where? Using the same methods as before, visual, verbal and written, find out what you can about where the power and influence is and add to your community map. Here are some ideas about what you might want to find out.


  • Follow the money! It will tell you a lot. How much does the local authority spend on the area? Does anyone actually know? What is money spent on and who decides? How much does the school cost to run? What about the local youth club or playground if there are any?
  • Are there any programmes, schemes or grants for the area? If so, how much, for how long and with what priorities?


  • Do people know how decisions are made? Do they feel included or left out?
  • Is there a local, parish or community forum? Can young people attend? Do young people go? Who gets to vote?
  • Is there a community plan? If so, who and how was it put together? Who was consulted and what are the key priorities it identifies? Who is responsible for taking these issues forward?
  • Are children and young people involved in any way in decision-making, including about money and grants?
  • Sometimes local authorities have area-based offices or one-stop-shops. Are there any in your area and what services do they offer? When are they open?
  • Who runs the buses? Are there a number of providers? Do they consult locally about how the service is received and could be improved?

People with power

  • Are there particular community leaders? Who are they and what do they see as the priorities for the area?
  • Who are the local or parish councillors? How can you contact them? Do they have regular times people can meet them? Where and when? Add their pictures and contact details to your community map. What are their particular interests and responsibilities? Is there a member of the council who is the youth champion? There are various websites to help you track down this information. Try www.oultwood.com/localgov/england.
  • Who is the local MP – Member of Parliament? Find out by going to www.parliament.uk. You can write to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA. When are their local surgeries? Are they known for taking an interest in community affairs?
  • Are there Members of the UK Youth Parliament representing your area? Check out www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk.
  • Are there local youth forums? Do you know them? How can they be contacted? How do they get their views across? How can you influence what they say or do?

What next?

Before you move on, you may want to map one last P: production and consumption. This may be particularly important to show dependencies between the local area and further afield: food, water, energy, transport and land use for example. Hopefully, your community plan is looking just a bit chaotic. Loads of information, with links across, contact details, issues. You probably have more information about the local community than is held anywhere else. Seriously. Keep it. Photograph it. Add to it. Come back to it when considering concerns you are planning to take action on. Reflect on what you have done. What have you enjoyed about the process? What has been tiresome? How have people responded to you? How have you worked together?

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