Pioneers Post

No Wei ahead for Big Society?

25 May 2011
Nat Wei picture

Lord Nat Wei of Shoreditch, the government's Big Society czar, has stepped down days after the government's relaunch of the Big Society. 

The decision by Wei, who has taken up a position with the Community Foundation Network, has instigated a wave of attacks on the Big Society from the government's critics.
Unite's national officer Rachel Maskell said the resignation 'speaks volumes for the failure' of the Big Society while Labour called it a 'farce'.
Wei had been in post as Big Society adviser less than a year. His resignation comes after an announcement of a reduction in his hours to focus on more paid work, despite one the central concepts of the Big Society being a commitment to voluntary work.
So is the Big Society dead, or can initiatives like the Big Society Bank rescucitate it again? Let us know below the line.
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Yes, there are vital signs

It may yet have life, albeit minus the tag 'Big Society'. Those who became its greatest critics were by and large those who might well have contributed most to it, had government taken a more inclusive approach. Instead it set about trying to propel bottom-up up civic engagement with a top-down approach which for example aims to impose upon us an ideology implemented by community organisers, who many saw as displacing and perhaps hijacking existing community activism.

We need to develop local sustainable economies through social enterprise. Of that I have no doubt, especially since Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns came to the same conclusion. Here's my two penneth, which is to suggest that the aim should be to create an economically empowering local environment in which self-organised activity may flourish. It is for us, about making people rather than production the central focus:

Jeff Mowatt
People-Centered Economic Development