Civil Society Futures Marks Gate workshop
Who? Active citizens of Marks Gate, Barking and Dagenham
What? Discussing the future of Marks Gate, and the forces shaping it
Where? St Marks Church, Barking.
When? 6:30pm, 27th June, 2017
Why? This was part of Goldsmith’s research
Insights: (what stood out for you?)
It was clear that people in the workshop had a range of shared concerns, particularly a lack of opportunities for young people. There was also concern for community safety, as some people saw knife crime as a barrier to engaging young people in civil society. While there was evidence of a strong civil society ecosystem, it was apparent that some key organisations and places had disappeared in recent years due to growing resource pressures.
What does this tell you about civil society in the future?
A key challenge identified was a lack of funding for civil society organisations, which means that a lot of activity in the area relies on volunteers who can easily get burnt out or overworked. As a result, some important civil society institutions have disappeared from the area in recent years. Looking ahead, civil society faces the challenge of trying to grow, adapt and expand in a difficult economic climate with limited public funds available.
What are the drivers (or barriers) of change in civil society that came out for you?
Drivers: There is a strong community spirit and a shared desire to create more opportunities for young people.
Barriers: High levels of deprivation and debt, violent crime, high housing costs, government spending cuts and rapid changes in the local housing market.
What are the new emerging models/forms of civil society?
North Meets South Big Local (NMSBL) is a partnership which works to strengthen and grow the local community. Each year the group receives £1m from the Local Trust to spend on what the local area needs. To prioritise spending, NMSBL holds an annual ‘Dragon’s Den’ event where members of the community submit ideas and vote on the projects they’d like to see start up in the area. The picture below shows what the community priorites were in last year’s Dragon’s Den.
What is the question you are now left with?
How can civil society grow and expand in places like Marks Gate which face a challenging socio-economic environment?