Big charities encouraged to learn from community sector
November 20, 2018
A Guardian article today makes the case for community organisations being well placed to increase people's health, wellbeing and connectedness.
It argues that larger voluntary organisations have become over-reliant on Government contracts and have lost their focus on what matters at a communtiy level. This is blamed for the disconnect between charities and citizens, and declining trust in the voluntary sector over time.
These charities can learn from the local focus that community organisations have, and the article shows this is starting ot happen already with some larger charities devolving power to regional hubs and employing community organisers.
What the article doesn't mention is that government has a vital role in growing and sustaining the community sector through legislation, funding programmes and targeted support. In Scotland, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act, Community Choices programme and Strengthening Communities programme come to mind.
Participatory budgeting and the Empowerment Act are now being evaluated with view to strengthening these areas across Scotland. The planning bill and Democracy Matters are in full swing and there is a growing interest in social prescribing by GPs and other front line health providers. So there are a lot of strands coming together in Scotland with a focus on people and places.
As the article says, the "energy, expertise and goodwill is already out there in the community." But it's also worth highlighting the role we all have in making sure all communities are supported to build on these assets.