Where have we been? What have we heard? Our findings so far

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Where have we been? What have we heard? Our findings so far

Map of England

*** Update November 2018: read our final reports instead here ***

» Read our interim reports below
» Who have we heard from & how?
» Where have we been?

Civil society really matters – it is a valuable and essential part of our daily lives, bringing people together, building their confidence and capability, offering a helping hand to those in crisis, delivering services, challenging injustice.

But our generation is facing new challenges. More impersonal and more divided, we face the possibility of an ‘us and them’ future. Inequality… racial tensions… robots replacing humans…. ignored by government… many feel powerless, they have little control over the future – and are losing trust in big institutions, including charities.

And yet there is enormous possibility – civil society can and must respond.

Its big role in the coming years is to generate a radical and creative shift which puts power in the hands of people and communities, connecting us better and humanising the future.

Interim reports

Summary report

Download here

Longer research report

Research led by Natalie Fenton, Adam Dinham, Tom Greenwood – Goldsmiths University of London

Download here

26th April 2018


  1. Ruary Neill says:

    I heard Julia Unwin speak at a conference yesterday and wholeheartedly agree with her view that a key issue is the importance of localism. By this I mean the importance of the local community that we live in and having the pride in that community to go out and promote it and improve it. One of the ways in the past that helped promote localism through engendering a sense of belonging was the promotion of local mutually owned enterprises whether local building societies or other enterprises. This had the added advantage of adding to the economic wellbeing of the local community as money spent was kept in the community. Has the Independent Panel looked at ways in which local mutually owned enterprises might be encouraged and, if so, what do others think about this idea?

  2. There are important insights here –some of the comments in ‘How We Organise’ particularly resonate. Working with many small social enterprises I see that they can often be overshadowed by the few large organisations operating in the same sector. Small community businesses & social enterprises certainly hold one answer to the question of how we can re-energise civil society, but the challenge is around how we enable their growth while allowing them to maintain their independence and original vision and purpose. These organisations are often operating in challenging markets with higher costs than typical businesses -making social or environmental change can be expensive! Reading this report, it feels that now is the perfect time for us to re-think how we support and nurture community businesses. The School for Social Entrepreneurs have developed Match Trading – grant-funding that pound-for-pound matches an increase in income from trading. These grants incentivise social entrepreneurs to increase their income from trading, supporting them to improve their resilience, explore new markets and diversify income streams.

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