Discussion: What Will Make the (Big) Society Work?

“How can we make the Big Society work?” and “What contributions can faith communities make to the Big Society?” were the questions to be explored first during the discussions on the Big Society government’s policy hosted by UPF in 43 Lancester Gate. The young activists gathered juxtaposed pro’s and con’s of the idea and practice of the policy.

Everybody agreed, that they want to live in a society where individuals and families take responsibility for the wellbeing and happiness of their neighbors and wider society. But is this only utopian thinking?

“We need a society were individuals are striving to do good and not just to do well“,

pointed one participant out that the Big Society is a question of mindset. A shift towards responsibility is necessary. “Also the banking crisis was showing this.”

A second point explored was the necessity for people to know each other, if they should take responsibility for each other’s welling. Especially in bigger cities we face the challenge, that people don’t know each other. Another young participant brought up, that according to Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point”  one man/woman can only know 150 people “well”. This brought the discussion towards the necessary revival of  local high streets in order to create in big cities an environment where people see each other and  feel free to get to know each other.

Maybe we should start a clever little social movement of talking to strangers on the bus-stop. Just today I managed to have a nice conversation after missing the bus”, a pastor added. Two concerned citizens shared about their involvement in their local residents association and encouraged all participants to join their respective association.

The discussion moved to discuss the role/importance of information in motivating citizens to become responsible citizens, confirming the point of Publish government data (open/transparent government) in the government policy. Another voice added, that just information is not enough. It needs to be communicated in a personal way. Established social units as clubs/organizations/churches need to be facilitated to communicate information relevant to the community in an effective way.”Among those, religious communities are the most intact”, one student stated.

“These traditional institutions lose relevance in today’s society. I recently learned, that businesses are influencing society most. How is it possible to work through them for social change?”, was one response, which finally lead to a discussion and sharing about successful social businesses and social business ideas.

3 students left the meeting with the resolve to join their local residents association. The discussion will continue early march in LG 43.


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