Community activism manual


I read a lot of reports in my role. Reports from HMIC, reports from various thinktanks, and reports from interest groups, individuals, consultants, government departments…the list goes on.

Papers - image credit Horia Varlan on Flick'r

Some are awful – sloppy methods, poorly written or plain wrong. Most are good in parts – they have some points which you may or may not agree with, but are reasonably argued and presented, and some points that you can agree wholeheartedly with.

Occasionally (not often enough) however I read a report that has far more to agree with than disagree. One that is actually useful, and one that is written to take account of all angles. One such report is Helen Newlove’s report on community activism published this week.

Yes it may have been overshadowed by HMIC’s report on frontline availability (an issue I commented on previously), and yes there may still be some recommendations that I disagree with, (especially around surrender of budget in the current climate) but overall it is well worth a read. I think the report should be compulsory reading for neighbourhood teams, and for neighbourhood activists as well as for central government. The report is structured around these three groups, with clear recommendations to help each group to engage with and understand each other.

As someone who helps charities to access funding from central and local government for example, I am well aware that most small charities struggle to access funds – the bidding process is complex and the bureaucracy required by public sector bodies is a major barrier to a charity that is staffed by well meaning volunteers with limited time and experience in that world. It is refreshing therefore to have this report point out ways of accessing funds, and recommending  that organisations make their processes more straightforward.

“accessing funding can be a complicated and frustrating process. Ask communities what would help them to access funding and think about how you can make funding more easily available to small groups”.

I also particularly liked the ‘top tips’ sections of the report that identified simple ways for public, agencies and central government to improve their services.

Let’s have more reports like this that might be read by people who don’t do it for a job, and the reports might make more of a difference.

Helen Newlove’s blog can be found here.

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