People talk about a desire to break down the barriers they see springing up between them and their neighbours. But often, they don’t know how. For English civil society to flourish in our fast changing world, we must begin to answer that question.
Our website and helpline work well, reaching over 1.5 million people, and we have dipped our toe in with a couple of regional admin offices. But we know that if we really want to enhance our face-to-face support and work more closely with older people we need to be embedded in their communities.
We are now twelve months into our inquiry into the future of civil society in England, engaging over 1,500 people in deep discussion — what have we heard?
Civil society, like the society it serves, is ever changing. If we are to harness the transformative energy of young people and communities, structures and funding will need to change to keep pace. People are eager to work together for the common good, we just need the government and funders to loosen the chains and let it happen.
What exactly are the characteristics which make a good organisation in the aftermath of the Oxfam and Save the Children scandal? I think we know such bodies when we come across them, and they are often grassroots initiatives with a strong sense of place and locale, and of mission and founding leadership.
Will the future be stronger for voluntary sector providers of adult social care if disabled people are truly at the heart of our decision-making? Why do professionals talk on behalf of their beneficiaries when people themselves and their families are capable of and willing to speak up?
A few years ago, YHLCOSA, a charity working to prevent sexual harm, made radical changes to the way it operates. It was a change which saw the charity develop much stronger relationships with its local business community, in order to support its work across Yorkshire, the Humber and Lincolnshire.
Sexual abuse, exploitation and assault, and resulting cover-ups at Oxfam, Save the Children and others have dominated headlines. What does it mean for the future? Have your say.
Bolivia has a deep history of resistance. After over 500 years of colonisation, it continues to be home to the largest and most diverse indigenous population in the continent, with 36 different indigenous peoples officially recorded. At the turn of the millennium movements successfully took on both a multinational corporation and a President – paving the way for the election of the incumbent Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS) and the country's first indigenous President in 2005.
So many organisations are seeking to make a difference to people’s lives today. But how can we involve the communities we work with in shaping the policies and systems that will change their tomorrows too?