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).