Social Life has grown out of the Young Foundation’s innovative work on communities, cities and social needs, developed through over 50 years of experience. This includes the groundbreaking research of social thinker and entrepreneur Michael Young, into the dynamics of community and family life; and the extensive work of Sir Peter Hall, one of the world’s most respected and widely published urban practitioners.
The Young Foundation was originally established in 1954 as the Institute for Community Studies by Michael Young, later Lord Young of Dartington. One of his motivations was frustration with the disconnect between social research and post-war urban planning, and this became a focus for the Institute’s early work.
In 2005, the Institute was re-launched as the Young Foundation. It re-focused its work on communities and housing with the launch of Transforming Neighbourhoods, a collaborative research and innovation programme on neighbourhood governance, community empowerment and local innovation. Social Life’s founders and directors, Nicola Bacon and Saffron Woodcraft, led this work, bringing together over 25 partners from central and local government and the third sector.
Since 2005, Nicola and Saffron have built up and run the Young Foundation’s work on communities, developing large-scale collaborative programmes on local wellbeing and neighbourhoods, leading research on local government innovation and community empowerment. Their work has contributed to national debates in the UK on localism and resulted in innovative pilot projects on new approaches to regeneration.
In 2009, Nicola and Saffron established Future Communities, which explored how the current generation of large-scale new housing developments could become thriving and sustainable communities, learning from experience in the UK, Europe, the US and Asia.
Social Life was founded by Nicola Bacon and Saffron Woodcraft in March 2012, to take forward this body of work and to develop Social Life as an international centre of excellence and innovation in social sustainability. We are delighted and really grateful to NESTA for providing us with office space.