has developed from discussions organised by the
Society in the North
group, in the light of wider developments
in the Big Society arena.
The initial core group behind Our Society
are (top row, L-R)
(writer and trainer);
(facilitator and social
media surgeon); (middle row, L-R) Sophie
(both working for community development
) and Tanwir Rauf
(formerly of CDX, now freelance);
(bottom row, L-R) Paul
(formerly working for NAVCA
and David Wilcox
(social reporter). We are
happy to work with all who are passionate about community action
and social change.
aims to provide a set of connections and tools
that can be part of a genuine process of moving power into
communities, helping local people and organisations to find ways of
achieving social, economic and environmental benefit where they
live and among their communities of interest.
We see value in many of the ideas advocated under the Big Society
label but believe they need to fit within a wider context of social
action. We also see the need for a space to share experiences and
concerns outside government, because the nature of social action is
often to challenge government.
aims to provide a space where people can:
- share their stories and struggles honestly
- make connections with others who are engaged in related
- learn from others’ experiences
We will also, as and when we are able, host events or contribute to
events run by others to promote the idea of Our Society
gather experience and information.
Why us, and why now?
There are a lot of networks, toolkits and people who want to help.
Most of them have very specific objectives or advocate a particular
means of achieving community benefit. What Our Society
do is begin to network the networks, signposting people to a wide
range of tools and options without selling one rather than another.
We will maintain constructive relationships with all who are
seeking to promote social action and real benefits for
Joining up the dots
Change starts with people who want to make a difference. They might
be individual citizens, members of sports clubs or faith groups,
local business people or parents whose children attend the same
school. The presenting issues that make them active vary widely,
from affordable housing to rural broadband to public transport to
the lack of activities for young people.
Many people never move beyond these single issues. But they are
inevitably connected with other topics of concern. Our
will help to link people into the bigger picture,
helping them to understand what can be achieved and helping them to
think through how best to use their time and energy.
The issues that suck power away from citizens are economic (lack of
capital, lack of jobs, poverty); social (being ignored, lack of
information, lack of influence, isolation), environmental (lack of
control over the built environment, global economic and
environmental changes, destruction of habitat and neglect of green
Many of these overlap and we can begin to enable people to explore
these connections and make links with others with shared
What can we do?
- 1. Inform - by sharing experiences of community action
we can help those who are thinking about what they can do where
- 2. Inspire - provide online and face to face
encouragement and help wherever we can.
- 3. Facilitate - not everybody has the skills or
confidence to tell their own stories. Our Society can offer
training in social media and writing skills, and help to present
and share what citizens are doing to take control of their lives
and improve their communities.