Cultural Playing Field

England Volunteering Development Council meeting by Robin Simpson
November 25, 2011, 9:23 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Tuesday I was in London for a meeting of the England Volunteering Development Council at which we welcomed the new EVDC Chair, Baroness Scott of Needham Market. Jess Steele from Locality gave a presentation on the Government’s Community Organisers scheme – one of the main Big Society initiatives. Locality is recruiting and training 500 paid community organisers over 3 years who will then be charged with finding 4,500 more volunteer community organisers. Jess stressed that the organisers will be facilitators, not leaders. Their job is to listen to people and encourage dialogue: the Government does not intend the organisers to bring any particular message and is not seeking any specific outcomes from the scheme. Jess had just visited New York, Detroit and Chicago to learn from the experience of community organisers in the USA. She explained the plan to create a legacy company that will continue to support the scheme after the end of the Government funding in 2015. Toby Blume from Urban Forum then delivered an entertaining and challenging presentation titled ‘There’s No Going Back to Normal: Normal Was the Problem’. Toby looked at the reality of The Big Society, localism, public sector reform, open government and spending cuts. He suggested that there is still a lot of money in this country: the state’s spending levels are still the same as in 2004/5. He talked about new forms of delivery, new ways of working and creative collaboration and gave examples of Urban Forum members engaged on ‘co-production and community resilience’ and ‘community rights made real’. It was an inspiring presentation which left us with the message “the future is ours to shape”.

Robin Simpson.

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