Search Results for: "big society network"

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Community activist hub: right problem, wrong solution

I’m puzzled by the recommendation for a “central information hub for community activists” from the Government’s Champion for Active Safer Communities, Baroness Newlove. Her report on Our vision for safe and active communities: Government Progress Update, has an introduction from David Cameron, and this as its first priority:

Creating an online ‘home’ for community activism. Building on existing online services, these easy to find and simple to use ‘hubs’ will provide community activist ‘starter kits’, together with useful links, contact details, up-to-date funding information and the ability to recruit potential volunteers online.

I’m sure that Baroness Newlove has good evidence of a demand for information from her work in local communities in recent months – so, right problem. What’s puzzling in a Government announcement is that it was only last year that Mr Cameron launched Big Society Network and Your Square Mile as a solution. You can see the video here. read more »

All posts Big Society Our Society

Big Society in crisis? It’s just becoming big society

Opinion surveys and a report from ACEVO – which represents the chief executives of voluntary organisations – have led to a fresh round of stories about how Big Society is doomed, the government must try harder, no-one understands it, and more seriously that BS policies will increase inequality.

The Independent on Sunday headlines The Big Society in crisis: Are the wheels coming off the PM’s Big Idea?. The Guardian says Government urged to take a strong lead in Big Society, Third Sector magazine reports Banks missed ‘historic opportunity’ to support voluntary sector and i-volunteer blogs that Forty percent of people still don’t know what the big society means.

There’s clearly substance in all the stories, although some are more negative than the tone of the ACEVO report (Word doc) which “embraces the Big Society as an agenda” while calling on the Government to “fill in the blanks” on contributions from banks, support for deprived communities … and also improve communication and leadership.

However, I think that the way which we can best understand Big Society is changing. (Warning: mixed metaphors follow). read more »

All posts Big Society Our Society

Big Society in crisis? It's just becoming big society

Opinion surveys and a report from ACEVO – which represents the chief executives of voluntary organisations – have led to a fresh round of stories about how Big Society is doomed, the government must try harder, no-one understands it, and more seriously that BS policies will increase inequality.

The Independent on Sunday headlines The Big Society in crisis: Are the wheels coming off the PM’s Big Idea?. The Guardian says Government urged to take a strong lead in Big Society, Third Sector magazine reports Banks missed ‘historic opportunity’ to support voluntary sector and i-volunteer blogs that Forty percent of people still don’t know what the big society means.

There’s clearly substance in all the stories, although some are more negative than the tone of the ACEVO report (Word doc) which “embraces the Big Society as an agenda” while calling on the Government to “fill in the blanks” on contributions from banks, support for deprived communities … and also improve communication and leadership.

However, I think that the way which we can best understand Big Society is changing. (Warning: mixed metaphors follow). read more »

All posts Big Society Our Society

Join Our Society for the Big Society anniversary reality check event

Big Society is reaching it’s first birthday as a manifesto, a network, and set of ideas and principles that have shaped many Coalition government policies. On Thursday in London the far more modest, less contentious, non-partisan Our Society is holding a big society reality check. I hope you’ll join us online or in person.

A year ago this week David Cameron, then in opposition, led a seminar to launch Big Society as the Conservative manifesto, and then walked down the road to the Thames-side OXO building to launch the Big Society Network, developed by Paul Twivy and Nat Wei.

Paul was the chief executive of the network, which was to be a mass-membership organisation. One of the ideas was a project called Your Square mile, to support local social action.

I received invites courtesy of Steve Moore, who I had worked with in the past, and who was doing a lot of behind the scenes organising.

I don’t think any commentators at the time expected Big Society to be as politically significant as it has been – like it or not.

Today Steve is director of the network – which is focussing on events, social enterprise, participatory budgeting and innovative projects. It doesn’t recruit members. Paul Twivy is heading up Your Square Mile, with £830,000 of Big Lottery funding announced last week as part of People Powered Change, with an ambition to have 15 million members. Nat Wei is in the Lords, as Government adviser.

During that year Our Society was formed as network, growing out Big Society in the North, to provide people with a space to celebrate their achievements in local communities, share experience, and work out how to survive and make the best of the changes Big Society was bringing. I’m a founder member, with others you can see here. We are volunteers, and currently have over 460 members. I think it is fair to say it is currently the only substantial, open, independent forum dedicated to discussion of Our/Big/Good Society. read more »

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Big Lottery funds UK-wide Your Square Mile digital platform on SocialGo

As part of the announcement of a People Powered Change event this month, the Big Lottery Fund has confirmed that it will be funding the Your Square Mile initiative – currently part of Big Society Network – to build a UK-wide digital platform. It is part of a larger funding package that BIG will splash at the event in Salford on March 25.

The partners page says: “There are 93,000 square miles in the UK. Most of the 62 million UK citizens live in 7,500 to 8,000 of those square miles. These square miles contain identifiable communities – villages or small urban areas – comprising several thousand people each. “Your Square Mile” is about encouraging citizens to identify, claim and then lead change in those neighbourhoods. This is currently being piloted in 16 diverse, challenged communities in the UK.

“The Big Lottery Fund is enabling Your Square Mile to build a digital platform – on PC’s, mobiles and public access screens – that will enable the interchange of ideas, advice, support and benefits to citizens throughout the UK”. read more »

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Clearing the ground to claim Big Society for ourselves

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Big Society if you are sitting in Whitehall … but rather a good time if you believe that there are some useful principles and opportunities in the large bag originally promoted as central to the Conservative manifesto. They are just in the wrong ownership.

We need to unpack the bag, re-assemble the pieces, claim them for ourselves, and stick on some different labels. After all, Big Society is meant to be about shifting power from central to local, and enabling citizens to take control. These days social media means we don’t have to accept brands created in our name, or organising methods from another age.

The bad/good fortnight started with a front-page splash in the Times, prompting “end of the beginning” analysis and ended up with Liverpool council pulling out of the vanguard area programme. In between we had lots of “Big Society in crisis” blogging, including a “you couldn’t make it up” piece from the Wall Street Journal. In Liverpool Phil Redmond said he stuck by the principles, but “the marketing slogan is not the best” … and the BBC’s Nick Robinson said Big Society should be high on the agenda for the PM’s new messenger Craig Oliver.

The comments from Phil and Nick show what’s wrong with Big Society communications … as well, of course, as the problem of people thinking it is all about volunteering (that’s just part of it) and cuts undermining local support systems (they need changing, but not this fast, at this cost). read more »

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An amazing day with Chain Reaction: no moans, many assets, a community march. That’s big society – or Our Society

I spent yesterday on the 30th floor of a Canary Wharf tower, with 100 people at Chain Reaction 2011, a hugely creative discussion about the future of East London that we could see below. Our bodies were in the sky, but our heads and hearts were on the ground.

I spent this morning less productively tweeting about the story that Lord (Nat) Wei is cutting back his volunteer time on Big Society, and the follow-ups about How to save the big society and what this tells us about the labour market.

Nat responded that “#bigsociety is about much more than volunteering – it’s about helping people to take control over their lives, however much time they have” … but, without the stories I heard yesterday, that and other tweets seemed mostly abstractions.  Heads in the clouds. read more »

All posts Big Society

An amazing day with Chain Reaction: no moans, many assets, a community march. That's big society – or Our Society

I spent yesterday on the 30th floor of a Canary Wharf tower, with 100 people at Chain Reaction 2011, a hugely creative discussion about the future of East London that we could see below. Our bodies were in the sky, but our heads and hearts were on the ground.

I spent this morning less productively tweeting about the story that Lord (Nat) Wei is cutting back his volunteer time on Big Society, and the follow-ups about How to save the big society and what this tells us about the labour market.

Nat responded that “#bigsociety is about much more than volunteering – it’s about helping people to take control over their lives, however much time they have” … but, without the stories I heard yesterday, that and other tweets seemed mostly abstractions.  Heads in the clouds. read more »

All posts Big Society

Want to influence? Understand networks.

I was fascinated last year by the analysis of how climate sceptics networked more effectively than environmentalists to create Climategate, which was followed by practical advice on the role of social insurgents in the equivalent of online guerilla warfare.

The story of that research commissioned by Oxfam was broken by the blog Left Foot Forward, and they have now invited Stephen Fitzpatrick, from the socialbusinessgroup.com to report directly here on their latest piece of work on connections between informal networks of financial websites. Some of these are close to the source of the last financial crisis, and Stephen suggests that following them might help politicians see the next crisis coming.

The report Social Media: the New Influentials, from Mindful Money, shows how an increasing number of web and blog sites connect to each other, how they influence the debate and influence investors, providing, in the process, an alternative viewpoint to the established media. They list the top twenty. read more »

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Steve Moore leads new Big Society Innovation Platform

I’m delighted to see Steve Moore emerge from the confused world of internal Big Society politics as new director of the Big Society Network, with the aim of making it “the innovation platform for the UK’s Prime Minister’s big idea; to build the Big Society”.
Steve isn’t a man for the formal press release, and the news emerged via Steve’s bio posting to the Athens TEDx event tomorrow, where Steve is presenting.
Before continuing, I should declare an interest: I’ve worked with and for Steve on and off over the years, including a couple of months with the Network, and know he’s just the guy to make socio-technological innovation a big part of whatever the network becomes. That’s not because Steve is in any sense a geek – but over the past three years or so he’s been one of the best convenors and connector of people across different sectors and professions in the field. He knows everyone on this front … inside and outside No 10.
I’m guessing the current role may not be long term for Steve – but should help the network find a new direction as it re-organises. read more »