In July of this year, Conservative party leader and now prime minister of Great Britain, David Cameron announced his ambition to create a Big Society. As part of Cameron’s vision, the UK would move away from what he termed the Big Government introduced by Labour and start building on the strengths found in local communities.
Since its launch, Big Society has gained a reputation for being a slightly amorphous topic; owing in part to the fact that Cameron has avoided giving any definition to what a Big Society is and what it might look like.
This week an article published in the Guardian’s society section commented on a report recently published by the RSA on Connected Communities. The RSA’s report, which focuses on the potential of social capital, looks at “how networks might offer a fresh view of working in neighbourhoods”. For its study, the RSA interviewed 280 residents of New Cross Gate in south east London. Out of these 280 residents one quarter could not identify anyone in their social group who they thought they could approach in order to contact someone with more power.
However, what the report found was that certain key players within the community such as Phil Nice, a local resident who runs a popular Monday evening pub quiz and has also been responsible for organizing local community events.
So the debate over Big Society has become much less a what than a how? How do we identify and link up the champions of our communities?