The Big Society - what’s that all about?
Well, that's a very good question. It's a good soundbite, that's for sure, a good headline statement from the government, but I'm not convinced that David Cameron really understands his own words – the dots need to be joined.
It was back in July when the newly elected prime minister made his announcement, his plan for the Big Society.
My feeling is that he could have sold it to us so much better. It sounded more like rhetoric than a vision for the future and invited snide comments from the opposition who clearly didn't get it at all.
So what is this Big Society? Well, like so many things in life, it can mean whatever you want it to mean, so here's what it means to me.
It's about us taking responsibility for our communities; it's about recognising a need and doing something about it rather than taking the easy way out and declaring that the government should do something about this.
When there was money available, perhaps the government would have funded many worthwhile projects but there is no money and the interest on the current national debt is �100m per day, so things need to be done differently and we can all play a part in this.
The shift in thinking has already begun and we now see more and more social enterprises appearing.
- 1 ‘Porn addict’ Norfolk doctor who secretly filmed women struck off
- 2 Rare insect spotted in Norfolk for first time in nearly 100 years
- 3 5 famous faces who were born in King's Lynn
- 4 Norwich street named one of the most beautiful in the world
- 5 Norfolk fish and chip shop named one of the 10 best in the UK
- 6 Mystery of container ships at anchor off Suffolk coast solved
- 7 Woman’s death prompts ‘significant dangers’ warning over A11 cycle races
- 8 Seven people arrested after 50 vehicles stopped by police at Thickthorn
- 9 Norfolk start-up taking on retail giant Amazon
- 10 Vandals smash charity dinosaur trail T.rex and leave kebab in its mouth
What defines a social enterprise?
Well, it's actually about the ethos of the business rather than the legal status.
When a business is set up in recognition of a need within a community and finds a way of serving this need by generating an income, where funds are reinvested in the community, this is social enterprise.
Many businesses are social enterprises without knowing it.
There are some very special people who see what can be done and have the vision, the will and the capability to do extraordinary things.
They are usually driven by passion and quickly gain support from the power and good will of others and things happen.
A perfect example of this is a business called Third Hand, a builders' recycling centre in Norfolk set up by a gentleman named Malcolm Porter.
When I first met Malcolm he said he wanted to set up a recycling centre for builders' waste instead of it going straight to landfill.
He also wanted to provide opportunities for young people, remembering how he had been given a chance many years go and how much he valued that.
Malcolm is at an age when he could be sitting back enjoying retirement, but he chooses to add value to life on a daily basis and I take my hat off to him.
Malcolm is not alone: there are many people doing similar things, not looking for financial gain or government funding.
This, to me, is what the Big Society is about. Forget the politics, it's up to us to show what we can do.
Kate Wilde is managing director of Engage with Business.