Voice4Change England’s roadshow highlights cynicism around Big Society

Voice4Change England’s roadshow highlights cynicism around Big Society

On 8 November 2011, Voice4Change England hosted its Big Society roadshow in Brighton. Held in partnership with Friends, Families and Travellers, the event was attended by a mix of BME and other specialist VCOs, generic VCOs and public sector organisations.

The roadshow gave participants an opportunity to learn more about Big Society policies and programmes; share experiences and concerns; and identify how the Big Society could address inequalities.

We were joined at the event by three speakers:

  • David Tyler, Chief Executive at Community Matters who gave an overview of the Big Society and its programmes and policies;
  • Arjumand Kazmi, Head of Policy at Voice4Change England who spoke about the role of equalities within the Big society;
  • Daniel Ibekwe, Former Chair of Brighton & Hove Racial Harassment Forumwho gave a local perspective on the Big Society.

Participants were also given the opportunity to take part in workshops focussing on the three pillars which underpin the Big Society: Localism and Community Empowerment, Social Action, and Opening Up Public Services.

Emerging themes

Here are some of the key emerging issues from the day:

  • There is a risk that only those with the strongest voice will be able to take part in the Big Society, further marginalising disadvantaged communities.
  • Big Society policies and programmes need to take continuing inequalities into account in their design and delivery, to ensure that they are informed by the needs of and accessible to diverse and disadvantaged communities.
  • Depleted resources and funding are closing the routes to specialist VCOs being engaged and actively involved.
  • Collaborative approaches between BME VCOs and other BME VCOs, as well as BME VCOS and generic VCOs should be taken to access opportunities and provide a stronger voice.

The findings from this event will be used to inform  Voice4Change England’s programme of work with the Women’s Resource Centre, commissioned by the Office for Civil Society, to provide advice to Government on the challenges that inequalities present to the Big Society agenda and how to address them; and the opportunities for tackling inequalities that the Big Society agenda offers.

Read more about the project and how you can get involved.