WHO WE ARE

We are a collective of individuals, organisations, and networks exploring how power can be shared and used more effectively in civil society in the UK.

 

We are exploring this through two learning programmes. One is focused specifically on the arts and culture sector. Another is focused on wider civil society and includes networks and organisations from the voluntary, community and charitable trust sector.

 

The programmes are being facilitated by brap.

 

The learning programmes are kindly supported by Barrow Cadbury Trust and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

 

As the programme progresses we will be sharing learning and resources on this site so that others in wider civil society can access materials and engage with the conversation in their work and their communities.

HOW WE GOT HERE

Between 2017-18, the Independent Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in England examined:

  • the environment in which civil society operates

  • the many pressures and changes it faces

 

It engaged people to develop a shared understanding of what the future might hold, and the role of civil society in shaping it. We went across England, hearing from over 3,000 people. What we found was both challenging and exciting…

 

We found that many feel civil society has a vital role to play in helping to address the challenges that lie ahead for England:

  • divisions between generations and between ethnic and faith groups

  • the impact of automation and globalization in reshaping how we work and live

  • people feeling their voices are going unheard

 

These are all challenges that civil society can (and is) responding to. Civil society must be at the heart of it. Civil society must lead the way.

 

But we also found that many feel that civil society has not always responded well enough to how our society is changing. Too often, charities for example are regarded by a sceptical public as disconnected from the local communities they exist to serve. Some feel the distribution of funding and influence in civil society is competitive, unequal and divisive. Those within civil society who know about what is happening in their local area aren’t being heard. Many also feel that the traditional ways in which we organize in civil society can struggle to keep pace with what we want to achieve.

 

How can we re-energise and support civil society to create a stronger future? With so many pressures on civil society, particularly after the significant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, inevitably we must look to Government, to regulators, to business for answers. However, the Inquiry found that we need to turn the mirror on ourselves too within civil society and that this is an important place to start. We need to build on the signs of positive change that are emerging within civil society. These ideas and recommendations from the Inquiry came together in the form of a shared ‘PACT’ for civil society – a set of shared aspirations for us all to commit to, for the decade ahead and beyond.