Posted by Steve Botham
July 27th, 2010 | No Comments »
Much has been said and written about the Big Society – some of it sceptical, some seeing the positive benefits, but most adopting a “when we see it we will take it seriously” approach. It is alive and well and living amongst us! The big society can be seen in many neighbourhoods up and down the country where citizens provide support to each other.
Demos have just launched a national report “Civic Streets – the Big Society in Action”. It looks at what the ‘Big Society’ means for struggling communities in need of regeneration and learns lessons from places and communities that have come together and have trail-blazed this approach. It chooses two neighbourhoods in Birmingham – Castle Vale and Balsall Heath – places we in Caret know very well and work closely with.
As a leadership consultancy we are interested in types of leaders that help create not just any old transformation, but transformation that is long term, generous, and inclusive.
It is clear there are four key leadership building blocks:
A leader with a clear sense of purpose – community change is generally long term -successful leaders need to have the drive and determination that enables them to stick at their vision despite the barriers they face.
A facilitative leader – someone who engages others, encourages broad participation in their street, block or wider neighbourhood. Generally these leaders are able to put the good of the community to the forefront and leave their egos and status behind.
A collaborative leader who forges effective partnerships, with Police, the local authority, housing providers, health, community groups etc.
An innovative leader who can help find new and more effective ways of understanding and addressing the community’s needs
The jury is out on whether the Big Society will work, or whether its success remains limited to a few exceptional neighbourhoods. But the potential of a Big Society approach - to reduce the number of people with mental health problems, address health inequalities, raise access for isolated people to key services and support, generate new community focused employment and to enable public services to raise their impact - is very high. What is more Balsall Heath and Castle Vale are thriving, supportive and energetic places to live.
If the Big Society is to succeed it will require big hearted, determined and generous leaders – can volunteers for the role raise their hands?