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.


You may also want to watch:


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.

Most Read

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.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus