Organising for the Big Society

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These slides are uploaded with permission from OPM, the Office for Public Management. Ewan King of OPM used them to introduce a seminar at NESTA in London on January 11 2011 on Community Organising in Big Society. The seminar launched a report which can be downloaded here.
http://www.opm.co.uk/resources/33560/download


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Organising for the Big Society

  1. 1. Community organisingfor the Big Society11 January 2011 www.opm.co.uk
  2. 2. Community organising – the Government’s vision• To create a “Neighbourhood army” of 5,000 full-time, professional community organisers• The role will be to: o Identify gaps or failings in services provided by the state o Mobilise community support to tackle these gaps or failings locally o Help people to start groups and charities o Enhance social capital and strengthen interactions between all parts of the community o Liaise with civil society organisations, the state and the community o Help to secure funding for local activities and their own work• National partner is being recruited to train and support organisers
  3. 3. Broad concepts• The concept of community organising is not new! It draws upon the thinking of radicals from well over 50 years ago (Alinsky and Friere)• While distinct, there are overlaps between community organising and other other approaches and interventions (community development, community empowerment, action research, community building, community activism)• Defining features:- Collective action to influence decision making- Empowering those who don’t have a voice- Provision of independent voice- Change may require conflict
  4. 4. Organising in disadvantaged communities• Lower levels of volunteering in some communities• Low levels of social capital• Lack of social cohesion – fragmented and polarised communities• Local voluntary and community sector may struggle to support organising• Some people face multiple disadvantages in becoming organisers: confidence, language, disabilities, financial support, literacy, age etc
  5. 5. Ways forward• Mapping and understanding communities• Recruitment needs to be multi channel and sophisticated, with outreach• Training needs to reflect the variety of starting points that people will have• Building a respective, open and engaging leadership culture, e.g. elected members• Sustained and intensive support is essential• Monitoring and evaluating impact
  6. 6. Challenges facing organising• What are they going to organise – big society is a hugely fragmented and complex picture• Managing accountabilities, e.g. elected members, organisers and existing neighbourhood structures• Managing conflict – community organising has a long history of protest• How can equalities be assured?• How do we ensure that organisers are credible at the local level?• Local fundraising - avoiding conflicts of interest
  7. 7. Community organising• Hashtag: #communityorg• Our blog: http://opmblog.co.uk

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