Can we please have some grown up politics? part 2

Danny Kruger, who was giving evidence to the PASC alongside Lord Glasman, Polly Toynbee and Shaun Bailey, left a very interesting comment on my blog yesterday about the hearing. He suggests I have got the wrong end of the stick and provides some essential context to the comments that Maurice Glasman made about Locality.

I am certainly prepared to accept if I am wrong and have, as Danny says ‘got the wrong end of the stick’. I did reveal in my blog that I was not following the hearing, but rather picking up the reports on twitter from others who were. No one is disputing whether the comments I quoted were said, so the issue appears to be whether or not they were taken out of context. Or perhaps it simply highlights the importance of being aware of how social media is changing the way news travels and the way it is communicated.

Anyway, I wanted to respond to the points Danny makes and return to why I think the wider issues I raised are still valid….

There are four points of Danny’s that I want to address:

1) “The witnesses weren’t grandstanding, trying to hog headlines, or doing anything other than responding to questions – mostly pretty superficial – from MPs”

I wasn’t there and I’ve not watched the hearing, so I am prepared to accept I may have deduced too much from the comments I read coming out of the hearing. However, I would point out that my comments about grandstanding and point scoring were not confined to those giving evidence, but included the MPs on the committee too. You’ve acknowledged that the questions were superficial and that’s disappointing – though I do understand that the Inquiry was only just starting. My request was for some grown up politics and I don’t believe that, even if the witnesses weren’t trying to hog the headlines, there was anything to make me change my mind about this. Our political discourse (and to an extent the not for profit sector) is beset with polarised positioning and tribalism. I am not suggesting we should all move to a position of consensus, but I also think we do a disservice to our beneficiaries to act in such a self interested way. The same day as the PASC hearing, I was listening to Muhammad Yunus talk about opening up the ‘door to selflessness’. I sincerely hope our leaders heed his advice.


2) “Maurice Glasman’s remarks about Locality came at the end of a long and v interesting account of the history of community organising, in which he cast himself and London Citizens in the tradition of Alinsky against the Settlement Houses tradition…He sees Locaity in the Settlement House tradition.”

We obviously didn’t have the context of Maurice’s talk on twitter – though I have heard him use exactly that line before whilst speaking. I think his analysis of the origins of community organising in the US is extremely useful and insightful. However I think he was wrong to extend the criticism of the 1930s US settlement movement to Locality and its membership in 21st Century England. They are very very different – in context and practice. And if Maurice Glasman doesn’t know that, then in my view he should be very careful about making that sort of statement.

 

3) “Maurice spoke with gentleness throughout, and is surely allowed to complain about the Govt’s choice of provider if he wants to.”

Of course he is, and I would encourage debate and dissention in political discourse. However was he criticising the government for making, in his view, the wrong commissioning decision? Or was he criticising Locality? Lord Glasman of course has a vested interest in one of the unsuccessful bids. Sour grapes?

If you look on the PASC website, you see Lord Glasman listed as “Advisor to Ed Miliband and Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at London Metropolitan University”. I think that makes a difference as he is, in effect, speaking as an advisor to the Opposition (whether he wants to or not). I think it’s inappropriate. Maybe we disagree?

 

4) “The idea Maurice shouldn’t refer to ‘toffs’ when he’s a Lord (of about 5 minutes standing) – mocking his ermine – this is the son of Dame Hilary Blume talking, right? Doesn’t that make you an hon. or something? Since when did being honoured for services to the community mean you couldn’t attack elitism?”

Ooh, Danny, I know you said you were feeling bad about “having a bash” at me…was it for this one? Low blow! But I forgive you. đŸ™‚ 

Being a son of a DBE doesn’t afford me any title. Honourable is a title given to the son’s of hereditary peers – as an intelligent and well educated man such as you, surely knows.

I actually don’t have any problem with recognising services to the community – and the honours system (despite some problems) is a good way to do that. I am immensely proud of my mum’s honour for the work she has done for the charity sector. And, to be honest, I also recognise and admire the work that Maurice Glasman has done for the community over many many years.

However, for as long as we have an unelected House of Lords, still with around 100 hereditary peers, I consider it ‘fair game’. Come on, with respect to the many working peers (who have only been there since 1958!), it’s been the bastion of “toffishness” for centuries. And as for the ermine…to be honest I’m personally not a fan of fur. But I suspect that’s probably a minor point!

The main thrust of my blog yesterday was that there was too much pettiness and point scoring in politics and I would like to see more honesty and intelligent debate. I don’t lay the blame for that at Maurice Glasman or any individual, we must take responsibility as a society for this – we get the politicians we deserve. That sort of change may seem monumental and mean reforming Parliament, political parties, the media, education……But you have to start somewhere and in my experience, anywhere will do.

 

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Can we please have some grown up politics?

News filtered out on twitter yesterday that Maurice Glasman – the recently ennobled Labour peer and academic, closely involved with Citizens UK – had launched a no-holds barred attack on Locality, the organisation awarded the contract to deliver the government’s community organisers programme. Third Sector magazine journalist Kaye Wiggins reported as Glasman described Locality as  toffs”, “paternalistic” and “well intentioned busybodies”.

 

I was hugely surprised by Maurice Glasman’s comments. He knows better than that….or at least he should. Locality’s Jess Steele, who manages the Community Organisers programme, responded robustly in her blog, pointing out that Locality’s 600 members throughout the UK may take exception to Glasman’s crude caricature. It’s certainly a bit rich for an enobled peer in an unelected House of Lords – resplendent in his ermin robes…okay so maybe he wasn’t wearing them when giving evidence, but still… – to call anyone ‘toffs’!

 

It’s worth adding a bit of context (and I’ll admit I’m still trying to understand his rationale)… Lord Glasman was speaking at the Public Administration Select Committee, giving evidence to their Inquiry into Big Society. Alongside Lord Glasman, also giving evidence, were Shaun Bailey (former Conservative parliamentary candidate who runs a charity…and I guess, with Nat Wei’s resignation, is now the leading Big Society flag bearer for the government?), Polly Toynbee (who is certainly not a Big Society flag bearer!) and Danny Kruger (who has worked for several Conservative party leaders, including David Cameron…and now runs a charity working with offenders).

 

The reporting of their evidence session was full of soundbites, posturing and the occasional useful insight. I wonder whether there was a little bit of grandstanding and one-up-manship at play here too…egged on perhaps by their desire to grab the headlines? There was also a fair amount of party politics at play too – too much in my view. Of course Big Society is political – particularly as a ‘brand’ or badge – though it does divide opinion within as well as across parties. However one had hoped that the PASC (who after all are there to scrutinise government and hold them to account) would look beyond this to the important aims and objectives that underpin the label.

 

Sadly that seems not to be the case…with Shaun Bailey rather incredulously saying his priority was to ‘depoliticise Big Society’. And things appear to have quickly descended into a rather tired and unhelpful procession of political grandstanding. Danny Kruger (who I met when we appeared together on the Today Programme, and who I believe does ‘get it’) deserves an honourable mention for rising above the party politics to acknowledge that there “will be inequity” – something we have been saying throughout the emergence of the Big Society policy agenda.

 

Lord Glasman is a now a close advisor to Ed Miliband and the leading proponent of ‘Blue Labour’ – a response to Phillip Blond’s Red Tory idea and an attempt to reassert the Left’s ownership of key Big Society ideas like mutualism – makes his comments even more disturbing. If the Labour leadership’s idea of creating a ‘new politics’ is to attack national charities with a strong track record of supporting local community action and enterprise, then they are in an even bigger hole than the polls suggest. Ed Miliband would be well advised to distance himself from these comments and consider looking beyond the usual suspects for some progressive thinking.

 

Is it too much to wish for some adult politics rather than the incredibly boring point-scoring we see from our politicians?

Social media helps knee to knee

Cormac Russell of the renowned Asset Based Community Development Institute (and by his own admission ‘a social media newbie’) asked whether people were suggesting that online communication augments, replaces or substitutes “knee to knee connections”. [I have to admit, I do like ‘knee to knee’…will have to adopt that one!]

This followed a lively debate in the comments on my earlier blog on communication and the community organisers programme.

Cormac’s question is an important one and I thought it warranted a quick blog in response in it’s own right….so here goes. [Part two of my response to recent community organising debate will have to wait!]

Nothing replaces face to face (or from now on, knee to knee!) communication. It’s the basis of society and civilisation and has been since, well, since we invited language. Social media is not and cannot be a replacement to the benefits of meeting to chew over the fat with each other. However I strongly believe that social media does bring something new to the party…

1)      Social media allows us to communicate with people we cannot meet face to face with. It allows people to interact who otherwise would not be able to, or may not even know. The comments from Garry Garrilla are very interesting and add things to the debate I would otherwise not have known. I’ve never met Garry…I don’t even know who he is or where he lives. Clearly debating online has enhanced my experience by allowing me to connect with others with similar interests.

2)      Another thing I think that social media does to enhance debate and complement discussions in person, is the fact that (for the most part) it takes place ‘in the open’. Even if people wish not to post comments and directly participate in the debate, it allows them to follow what others are saying. This obviously gives a degree of transparency that would otherwise be impossible – a report of a meeting, event or discussion, is not the same as it is always produced through the eyes of the author. It offers more than transparency though, as it also provides a record of what people said that can (and should!) be used to hold them to account.

3)      Online may be a neat way to describe all the internet has to offer, but it’s not really a single thing….and that’s another thing I like about social media. The current debate about community organisers has taken place across numerous blogs, on twitter, via email (I speak for myself here), on Nings and no doubt countless other platforms. Some is instant and conducted in realtime – much like a conversation – others are more linear….one person posts something, and then later someone else responds. And others still, mix the two. As anyone with even a cursory interest in participation will know, people like to participate in different ways and through different methods. This is as true for online participation as it is for offline participation. So, the fact that social media adds numerous different platforms and styles of communication is great.

Of course social media cannot replace face to face contact, but it can, augment it and enhance it. When I meet someone who’s participated in this recent discussion, we will pick up where the online discussion left off. Then, afterwards we will no doubt return to online interaction – probably involving a range of other people.

We don’t yet know, as Clay Shirky has eloquently said in ‘Here Comes Everybody’, what the implications of all this technological development are on society. But I for one, am determined to give it a go and see how we can use it and have fun finding out!

 

Toby Blume
Chief Executive 

Urban Forum

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tobyblume/

Community Organisers – conflict, collaboration, communication and consensus

Tessy Britton sparked off discussion with a thought-provoking couple of pieces on community organising and the continuum between collaboration and conflict. She came down strongly in favour of a collaborative approach, drawing on the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. Tessy even offered a reworking of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

 

A flurry of follow-up pieces ensued adding, reflecting and responding to Tessy’s blog – Julian Dobson, Thomas Neumark of the RSA (and a Camden Councillor), Anthony Zacharzewski from the Democratic Society, Jess Steele who manages the CO programme at Locality and Cormac Russell from the ABCD Institute. I would encourage everyone with an interest in Community Organisers to read all of these!

 

Community organising has attracted plenty of criticism from all sides – Alinsky supporters have bemoaned a perceived watering down of his model, critics of Alinsky have attacked the adoption of his approach, other criticism appears to be based on a desire to resist change more generally. And there have also been criticism based on a lack of understanding of what the programme aims to do.

 

It’s important to distinguish between different sort of criticism and to respond to them accordingly. In fact, I’m going to heed my own advice and offer my own response to the debate in two parts…this piece will address the issues of communication and understanding about the programme. I’ll post a separate piece about the more detailed debate about the relative merits of different approaches.

 

Criticism borne out of misunderstanding or confusion about the programme is quite different to the sort of sophisticated and nuanced critique that Tessy offered. However both are of equal importance and should be addressed as a priority by Locality. I appreciate the effort that Jess is putting in to this through her blog, in an attempt to make the programme transparent – but it’s more than a one-person job to be honest!

 

There is, in my view, widespread confusion about what community organising is, how it differs from other approaches such as community development, and what it has in common. Even less well understood are the differences between different community organising approaches advocated by as Saul Alinsky, Paulo Friere and Brazilian sociologist Clodomir Santos De Morais. Locality’s approach is to combine these different strands in order to develop a new contemporary model of community organising appropriate to 21st Century life. One key difference with traditional models of community organising is the role of local VCS groups as ‘hosts’ to the organisers. How this plays out will be interesting to see – I can see both advantages and risks in this approach…but it is certainly too early to write it off in my view.

 

There is also misunderstanding about the way the programme will work, in no small part due to crude and ill-informed reporting in the press. Newsnight’s infantile coverage of Big Society in general and the community organisers programme in particular is unfathomable in my view, but Daily Mail headlines like this are just absurd.

 

Locality should be applauded for making their bid available for all to see and an open process for people to nominate themselves – either as hosts or to be organisers. However this transparency needs to be maintained in the future – covering the basis for decisions about selection and the content of the training provision. I don’t doubt that these will be made available once they have been developed – my intention is just a little nudge to make sure they are not forgotten! J

 

Stephen Kearney from RE:Generate, who are the lead delivery partner for the community organiser training within the Locality-led programme posted a long comment on Jess’ blog (worthy of a blog in its own right). Stephen set out to explain in some detail RE:Generate’s approach to community organising , as well as suggesting that blogging about the programme was something of a distraction from getting on and doing things. Whilst I am not defending talking instead of doing, I think Stephen (who is obviously rightly focussed on delivering the training) was misguided in dismissing the importance and value of communication about the programme and engaging with critics, sceptics and supporters alike.

 

Communication is crucial in order to manage expectations, engage constructively in challenge and debate, to share and receive learning and respond to misunderstanding and confusion. The programme cannot operate effectively without focussing on external perceptions, or it will make the task of the community organisers even harder at a local level.

 

David Wilcox sums up my own view very eloquently in his comment on Jess’ blog “blogging by those running the programme is important because it shows preparedness to engage, and the realities of doing a very challenging job. That’s what builds trust…Head down and just get on with the job would, in my view, miss a big opportunity, and risk a lot of push back from those who would like to be friends, if occasionally critical.”

 

Developing the skills to grow the big society

There are different aspects to Big Society which require different skills and resources to deliver them. Community groups will need to have the capability to take advantage of opportunities to become more involved in public service reform, to increase social action and hold the state to account through open government.

 

Many of the skills, expertise and resources that VCS groups need are the same as they have always been; setting up and running groups, effective governance, communications, fundraising, strategic planning, using ICT etc. But what’s new? If Big Society offers something new then there are skills and resources that are different which the voluntary and community sector needs?

 

Here are some thoughts on the sorts of skills and capacity we will need to develop within the not-for-profit sector to grow the Big Society….

 

Innovation

Developing creative solutions to the challenges we face is nothing new for the sector, but it will be increasingly important for these skills to come to the fore. Unlike the private sector and public sector, there is relatively little investment in community sector innovation and support to ensure the learning from new approaches is captured, distilled and disseminated. It is crucial that community sector innovation is more systematically supported and learning from it ploughed back in to supporting adoption and adaptation. We cannot afford to continue to let the learning, skills and enthusiasm to be lost. The neighbourhood renewal agenda pumped £bns into community-led regeneration and social innovation, but (as John Houghton and I have argued in our article on the lessons from the Community Empowerment Programme) much of this investment has gone to waste as the government lost interest in it.

There is so much innovative practice within the community sector that others can learn from, but until we recognise it and support it more consistently, we will fail to capitalise on the full potential it offers. I welcome the increased emphasis organisations like NESTA are placing on innovation in the public realm and I hope this continues as I believe it is crucial to our future prospects.

 

Creative collaboration

The acknowledgement that the political and economic climate requires us to change is stimulating all sorts of discussions and collaboration. New partnerships – often unlikely or unusual – are being formed and people appear to be far more prepared to consider radically different things as a result of the financial climate. Although the drivers for this collaboration may be negative, I regard the opportunities that it is stimulating as a positive development.

However this isn’t simply about working with different partners. It is also about transforming the way that we work. Clay Shirky’s seminal book ‘Here Comes Everybody’ talks about ‘organising without organisations’ and how technological developments are fundamentally changing the way we (can) work together in groups for productive purpose. We don’t know yet what the full implications of social tools like Flickr, Twitter and Ushahidi will be on society, but they will clearly make a great difference to how we self organise and collaborate and therefore have huge significance for the future of social action.

Although I think many of us in the VCS have been relatively slow to explore the implications and potential of social technology, the most obvious benefit I can see is the chance to drastically enhance the way we interact with and involve our beneficiaries. The process of creative collaboration and using these new tools will require a new set of skills and a preparedness to change.

 

Community organising

The government’s national programme to support the training of 5,000 community organisers has already generated a lot of attention (and I have written before about my take on the programme’s origins and potential). The process of community organising, whilst not new, is far less widely practiced than related approaches like community development, and will require new skills and expertise, if we are take full advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Of course the government’s programme is only part of the story as many areas are already using community organising or planning to do so.  Whether or not we develop community organising skills through the Locality-led programme or not is something of an irrelevance. The more substantial point is the potential to add community organising to the range of tools and skill-set we have at our disposal to reform public services, hold the state to account and increase social action.

 

Open data

The government’s commitment to make data available to the public is perhaps Big Society’s forgotten theme. The potential for VCS groups to use this information more effectively is significant, but to do so requires new tools and new skills. There is currently too little emphasis on creating open data tools designed with citizens and the VCS in mind. Without these tools we cannot hope to use it effectively and it will actually make it harder, not easier, for us to hold the state to account and to use data to improve and design more responsive public services.

 

Resilience and asset mapping

Something we are increasingly interested in at Urban Forum is how we can develop the skills and methodologies to better identify and mobilise resources within our communities. Only if we understand what we have can we hope to harness these assets and resources to achieve our aims. People, land, buildings, skills, interests and expertise reside in all our communities and I’m certain that they could be better directed and organised to improve and strengthen resilience and increase community action. The work that Tessy Britton has been doing, through her Travelling Pantry, and our own work with CLES on community resilience, offer a way forward, but we have a long way to go.

 

Equalities and inclusion

One of the greatest risks to Big Society is that the opportunities it might create are not taken up equally by different groups and areas. If we fail to recognise the unequal capacity of particular groups to use new opportunities like Community Rights, we will exacerbate inequality and jeopardise any prospect of positive change. The VCS has a long and proud history of fighting for the weak and vulnerable in our society, but recent years have seen a growing inequality within the sector. The wealth and power concentrated in the hands of the largest not-for-profit organisations poses a risk to more marginalised groups playing a fuller role in civil and civic life. We must acknowledge this inequality and find ways to support partnership working – on an equal footing –between larger and smaller groups.

The success of those who shout the loudest for their cause comes at a price – often the further marginalisation of those who already lack power and influence. Parochialism and vested interest will lead to an increasing gulf between the sector’s haves and have-nots and we must honestly appraise its impact. There is so much potential for the sector as a whole to deploy its resources more equitably and efficiently in order to achieve our broad ambitions to tackle inequality and exclusion.

 

Beginning to grow our skills and capacity

These are some of the skills that I believe we will need to develop in order to capitalise on the emerging opportunities to affect positive social change through Big Society. It is not intended to be comprehensive and there are many other things we will need in order to be successful. Nor am I suggesting that everything that the government is doing is consistent with their big Big Society rhetoric. However, my hope is that we are able to grasp the opportunities that might emerge and use them to their maximum effect. We must start thinking about the skills and knowledge we might need to do this and from there begin developing strategies and plans to build our own capacity in the future.

 

 

Toby Blume
Chief Executive
 
Urban Forum
 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tobyblume/
Facebook
: http://tiny.cc/UFonFB

We must take a risk on Community Organisers

The Cabinet Office announced on Saturday that the contract to deliver the Community Organisers programme was being awarded to a consortium led by Locality (the organisation created by the merger of bassac and DTA).  Putting to one side the fact they chose to do this on a Saturday, the announcement was met with a mixed response in the media. The Daily Mail took an apparently unique line in referring to community organisers as a ‘platoon of paid bureaucrats’. Some responses were quizzical – looking at the programme as some curiosity in a freak-show, other reports were welcoming and positive.

 

Citizens UK, one of the leading practitioners of Alinsky-style community organising, and the organisation many had expected to win the contract, were quick to issue a statement expressing their surprise at not having won the bid. To be fully transparent, I should point out that Urban Forum are a partner in the Locality consortium, but we were also supporters of the Citizens UK-led partnership too.  I am less surprised than Citizens UK by the outcome of the commissioning process – though the decision is not quite as ‘done and dusted’ as is being suggested. If you read the small-print in the Cabinet Office press release you will see this is ‘a provisional announcement pending the completion of the procurement processes. Nonetheless I expect this is merely a formality to be concluded.

 

The Community Organisers programme is an inherently risky thing for government to commission. I have written previously that it represents a deliberate attempt to inject ‘creative disruptors’ into communities to shake things up and to challenge the status quo. My assessment is that without this disruption the government’s ambition for public service transformation and the Big Society agenda will be thwarted by vested interest, much as New Labour’s neighbourhood renewal goals to ‘narrow the gap’ were impeded. The government are commissioning this ‘neighbourhood army’ without too much idea of what the impact will be and without control over what they do. This is to be applauded. However, such a degree of inherent risk is not typical for public sector procurement officers (or Ministers). It is entirely rational therefore, for the commissioners of the programme to seek to minimise all other risks (that they can manage or mitigate against) in awarding the contract. So I believe that the Cabinet Office would have looked more favourably on a bid from an organisation with a track record of delivering major government programmes to time and on budget. In this respect, Citizens UK’s tradition of not accepting government money would have counted against them, and Locality’s experience would have been seen as a definite advantage. This is not a judgement on the relative quality of either bid, simply an observation of government’s procurement processes.

 

However I think that there are other factors at play here. Since the Conservatives first published their Big Society policy paper before the election, where they first mentioned community organising, I believe there has been a something of a shift in their thinking. Their initial plans referred explicitly to Saul Alinsky’s model of community organising. It is unclear to me whether, at the time, they were aware of other models of community organising, such as the equally effective approach based on the work of Paulo Friere. I also think, that in searching for new ideas whilst in opposition, they hadn’t thought particularly about what to do with ‘the old ideas’, in particular the role of community development (which I have described as being a ‘close relative’ of community organising) and participatory appraisal.

 

Once in government, Ministers and civil servants began to unpick the manifesto commitment and to begin to turn it into a deliverable programme (a challenge that political strategist Stan Greenberg has said often sees new governments becoming unstuck). I was not alone in emphasising to Ministers and officials that any successful community organising programme needed to accommodate different approaches. Different circumstances require different approaches and Alinsky, Friere, participatory appraisal and community development all have their part to play. I think that the Cabinet Office have taken this on board and have latterly taken a broader view of community organising. Indeed this was reflected in the programme tender specification where Friere and Alinsky were mentioned. I think this is a welcome development as we need more than one tool in our toolbox to support community action and deliver positive social change.

 

There remain however a number of risks facing the programme.

 

The first is the intense scrutiny on the programme from sceptics and supporters alike (and from across the political spectrum). On one side, supporters of the programme have incredibly high expectations, and there is a risk that community organisers will be seen as a panacea for all social ills. Not only is this (clearly) unrealistic, I believe it is also indicative of civil society’s growing unease with the Big Society agenda in the face of cuts that damage the foundations on which Big Society might be built. On the other hand, the sceptics are watching closely, no doubt in the hope that the programme spectacularly implodes.


Developing and delivering a programme under such intense scrutiny poses a major challenge to Locality, and they will need all their experience and political nous to deliver on the programme’s considerable potential. But I wholeheartedly believe that they will pull it off and I have complete confidence, both in Locality and in Regenerate, who will provide the training for the community organisers. We have worked closely with Regenerate for a number of years (indeed they are long-standing Urban Forum members and partners) and the feedback from local groups in areas where they’ve worked has been consistently positive.

 

The other challenge that needs to be addressed is engaging local government and in particular local councillors with the programme. It will be far harder to be successful without local government being on board, and at present there is relatively little knowledge of what the programme is and how local government should respond to it. Thankfully SOLACE has begun to address this and to develop a local government-led response to Big Society (including my own piece on community organisers). But there is still much work to do in raising awareness of the programme and responding to the fears and concerns of elected members. Community organisers will need the support of local councillors (or at the very least, their task will be far harder without them!), to unlock doors, to overcome barriers, to direct resources and to ground community action in our democratic institutions and processes.

 

The Community Organisers programme represents the best shot we’ve had for many years to bring about change in deprived communities and to tackle deep-rooted problems in a bottom-up way. Yes, there will be challenges and no doubt some areas will embrace the programme more effectively than others. We will need to ensure that the programme engages and supports the less powerful to gain power and influence. The programme cannot simply reinforce or exacerbate the current inequalities that are currently so damaging to society. Without becoming overly dogmatic and purist about what community organising means, we must also protect it from being bastardised and stolen from us. Indeed there are already signs that the opportunists are appropriating the language of community organisers to give themselves a new veneer of community-led social change. And we need to move quickly and urgently…..from the announcement on Saturday the clock started ticking and have only a short space of time to deliver real, substantive, transformative change.

 

Despite these challenges we must embrace the potential that community organisers bring, allow the programme to develop and to give local communities the opportunity to positively disrupt!

 

 

Toby Blume

Chief Executive 

Urban Forum 

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tobyblume/ 

Facebook: http://tiny.cc/UFonFB

Community Organisers – the big society’s creative disruptors

Here’s a short video clip of a talk I did in December for OPM at their Big Society and Equalities seminar. It’s my take on community organisers and why the Conservative Party (and now the Coalition government) are so keen on them.

 

 

the talk builds on the theme of my piece in the recent SOLACE pamphlet: ‘Big Society: Next Practice and Public Service Futures’