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Briefing & Practical Workbook

A spatial approach to working with marginalised communities

Involving marginalised older people in group activities is key to achieving equality.


Our new briefing and practical workbook detail a spatial approach to working with marginalised communities. The model considers the size and geographical distribution of different communities as a way of engaging them in group activities.


It was developed by our Equalities Board team based at the LGBT Foundation following a review of the Ambition for Ageing programme from an equalities perspective.


There are two documents;


  • A four-page briefing which provides an outline of the model of working with different types of marginalised communities to engage them in group activities. We hope this briefing will be useful for all people interested in how to ensure community development practice remains inclusive.


  • A practical workbook which provides a step-by-step guide on using this model at a neighbourhood level to identify and support older marginalised communities. The workbook will complement asset-mapping and community development at a neighbourhood-level. There are two key audiences for this workbook:
  • Recipients of funding pots looking to improve their local neighbourhood.
  • Council officers, voluntary or community sector workers or members of local communities working to develop work in place.

The workbook may also be useful for:

  • Funders and local authority commissioners designing place-based programmers or interventions
  • Equalities organisations looking to influence decision makers



Key findings from the report include:


  • The spatial distribution of a marginalised community in a locality will influence the most effective approach to involving community members in group activities. Small dispersed communities of identity are at greatest risk of exclusion.


  • Individual access needs should be accommodated whenever feasible, but universal design (the design of buildings, products or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors) should come as standard.


  • Using both asset mapping and the spatial model when planning community development will provide a fuller picture of the communities in a locality and the resources available.


While this model was developed before COVID-19, targeting and inclusion approaches can also be considered when developing distanced services - for example a helpline, Zoom meeting, emergency food aid distribution service, or socially distanced walk or activity in a park.


The briefing and workbook are available to download from the bottom of this page.



Printed copies of the documents will be available to order, free of charge, from Ambition for Ageing. Please contact us to put in an order.    


  1. For policy makers, practitioners, researchers, funders and other professionals. 4 page A4 Briefing. “A spatial approach to working with marginalised communities
  2. For Recipients of funding pots looking to improve their local neighbourhood or council officers, voluntary or community sector workers or members of local communities working to develop work in place. 24 page A4 Workbook “Mapping and working with marginalised communities: A workbook to guide you in identifying and supporting seldom heard communities in your neighbourhood”.



Demographic Data links referenced within the document:

  • Various : Many local authorities will include maps, dashboards and tables about the local population on their websites. All areas will have published a Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNA) and some may host their own demographic information, such as Manchester City Council's Intelligence Hub.
  • Nomis Nomis is provided by the Office for National Statistics, ONS, to enable access to the UK labour market statistics from official sources. Area reports are a good way to find demographic information at ward level, and you can create a data download from a range of data sets.
  • Fingertips Local Health provides evidence of inequalities within local areas. It includes indicators related to: Population and demographic factors; Wider determinants of health and Health outcomes.
  • Indices of Deprivation Although these don’t provide demographic data, Indices of deprivation are particularly useful for comparing areas, and they are often used when targeting funding and services.
  • ONS population Estimates ONS population estimates to small areas (circa 1,500 people/600 households) by single year of age and gender. No ethnicity included however, so can’t identify marginalised groups.
  • DWP Stat-XploreThis data set can help identify to small areas on the basis of gender and living alone status. It is largely used for benefits data so will be a subset and not include those of No Recourse to Public Funds, such as refugees.
  • ONS Population explorer Set up by the ONS in response to vulnerabilities around COVID-19, this tool allows you to explore populations by age, levels of health, and those providing unpaid care to others.
  • British Red Cross A tool to help identify vulnerability within particular areas
  • Marmot Review of health inequalities This document is report based rather than accessible data but contains lots of good information on populations as a summary document. The Greater Manchester specific document is available on the Institute of Health Equity website