Social action has many different definitions. Perhaps the best and most topical is – social action is about people coming together to help improve their lives and solve the problems that are important in their communities. It involves people giving their time and other resources for the common good, in a range of forms – from volunteering and community-owned services to community organising or simple neighbourly acts.
Whilst many of these activities occur without the support of the public sector (in which case the role of public servants is to ensure that the right conditions are in place for social action to thrive), some require more specific support from the public sector.
The New Economics Foundation recently held an enabling Social Action Conference (in conjunction with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport) and with it their latest online resource centre on all matters relating to Social action: What it is, what conditions does it need to thrive, what are the barriers and challenges, and how can stakeholders commission services better within communities. These can all be seen at www.gov.uk/enabling-social-action-guidance
In addition, the Department of Culture, Media and Sports Community Organiser Programme (COP) is being expanded to include:
- Embedding community organising in 20 areas across England by setting up Social Action Hubs in each area to lead on the training, recruitment and development of Community Organising. Social Action Hubs will be locally rooted organisations and supported by an Experienced Community Organiser. Through training local leaders and volunteers at a neighbourhood level they will strengthen the networks of community organisers and be catalysts for resident led social action.
- Setting up the National Academy for Community Organising to be the home of the “Foundations of Community Organising” qualification. The academy will be made up of a network of local and regional organisations delivering accredited training in community organising. The Academy will also develop new online training courses and programmes.
- Building new partnerships and alliances to expand the community organising network. COLtd will work with a range of partners from the statutory and third sector to increase the reach of community organising. Partners will include the National Citizens Service, Step Up To Serve and Local Trust as well as Staffordshire County Council and other local authority bodies.
- Engaging a network of Member Support Organisers to strengthen the network of Community Organisers. 10 Member Support Organisers (MSOs) will be recruited across England to support the growth of the community organising network. MSOs will bring Community Organisers together from across neighbourhoods and will support them to take collective action around their aspirations for the future of their communities.
Grants are going to be made available, download the full briefing papers to find out more.
Support Cambridgeshire are looking at various forms of social action, and more particularly how the voluntary or community sector can better demonstrate its impact, a subject which is becoming ever more important as funding regimes reduce and competition increases. If any community organisations are interested in coming together as part of a network forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities then please contact Russell Rolph on 01480 420603 directly. If there is enough interest an initial meeting will be convened at a date and time that suits participants.