Published 3rd February 2020

A 2020 vision

They say that the start of a new year is a time of reflection so as we move further into 2020, what do we have to look forward to?

It is a year that is synonymous with clear vision (or that’s what the optician tells me!) so hopefully we will start to see a bold and ambitious vision for communities from our new Government. I think it is fair to say that this country over the last 3 years has been entrenched in deep division. Recent reports show that almost three quarters of people in the UK feel that we are divided as a nation. This deep division must be tackled, and now, by rebuilding the relationships and rekindling trust between all people and all parts of our communities.

We know that when local communities come together, they can be powerful, and change things for good. We know this because over the last 4 years we have heard 1000s of stories of local people and communities who have done just that.

But how is this rebuilding of relationships and rekindling of trust going to happen? We need an assertive and bold vision. A vision which can build on the strengths of our communities and that can put power (genuine power) in the hands of people in communities. In many conversations that I have had with people, practitioners and policy makers I regularly hear of the need to reach out to those ‘left behind communities’ and to ensure that people feel ‘listened to and heard’.

For those saying that, it’s all well and good identifying the problem, but what’s the solution? In June 2019, Community Organisers published its strategy and vision to expand the network of Social Action Hubs to 50 and support community organising over a 10 year period. This could mobilise tens of thousands of people from across the country. This vision puts forward one way which we, as a network, can start to build our collective power as a movement and ensure that people have genuine opportunities to be heard and to take action.

However, is this enough? The Prime Minister just after the election in December called his first new Cabinet ‘the people’s Government’. A people’s Government needs to embody the principles of community action, participatory democracy and above all a commitment to the principles of community organising (namely that of listening, power and action).

A people’s Government needs to be built from the ground up and from the inside out. And to do this requires resources. It needs a commitment to spending which ensures that communities can genuinely act together in their collective interest
Nick Gardham, CEO, Community Organisers

At Community Organisers, we believe that to achieve a people’s government’ requires:

  • resources for neighbourhood pooled budgets giving people power over how money is spent locally, and on what,
  • capacity in communities to galvanise and catalyse people to action, particularly in those areas where ordinarily this might not be the case
  • mechanisms where institutions, both local and national can shift and share power with communities so that they can be accountable for the decisions and actions that they take.

So, as we move into 2020 as a network let’s make our ambitious call for a significant national endowment to support community organising to deliver on the people’s Government and rebalance the relationships within and across our communities.

An endowment that would do two things;

  1. enable all people in our communities to be listened to and to be supported to act on the issues that they care about, and,
  2. build responsive institutions that can listen to the needs of communities, be accountable to them and that can start to share the power that they hold.

If you want to show your support for our call, as an individual or as an organisation, and put your name on this list please contact us at hello@corganisers.org.uk

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