Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 25, 2011

Mutual Action, Common Purpose, Third Sector : Big Society ? The Third Way?


My Black Cat thinks it is time to reveal what she discovered when we visited The Broomstick Maker a year or two back.

She didn’t think it was appropriate at the time, because nobody would have taken any notice.

We first visited The Broomstick Maker in July 2009 during The Witching Hour.

He was surfing around The World Wide Web instead of mending broomsticks.

He was scratching his head.

He was contempalating charities, charitisation, The Third Sector.

Such was his confusion that he was even wondering if The Third Sector had anything to do with The Third Way.

Then The Broomstick Maker became aware of an Uncanny Intertwinglement.

All this has been revealed before to the readers of this blog.

My Black Cat, being a bit of a pest at the time, was sent out to hunt rats.

She caught a great big fat one.

She deposited it at The Broomstick Maker’s feet.

This rat made The Broomstick Maker scratch his head even more.

It was a document written by David Blunkett under the aegis of the think tank “The Fabian Society” at the request of the the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The document is called:

Mutual Action, Common Purpose: Empowering the Third Sector

“In July 2007 the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, asked me to chair a working group reviewing the role and place of the voluntary, community and not for profit sector – sometimes referred to generically as the Third Sector – for future policy developments.”

“Labour has the vision of a society where voluntary activity flourishes and where all individuals and communities are enabled to play a full part in civil society. We recognise the importance of volunteering in building social cohesion and cutting social exclusion in our communities – thus are committed to creating an environment where volunteering can thrive. Volunteering does not only benefit those who receive help, it benefits the volunteers as well – volunteers themselves seek and gain personal fulfilment, experience of responsibility and commitment and, increasingly, the acquisition of transferable skills.”

“We recommend, therefore, that the National Health Service should be encouraged to involve volunteers to signpost patients and families in hospitals, to act as gatekeepers in relation to avoidance of hospital acquired infections, and to assist those who are distressed or lonely. In addition, trained volunteers could assist nurses and nursing assistants in the essential task of ensuring that at meal times, the most vulnerable patients actually receive food and liquids. Equally, that volunteers should be recruited and trained in relation to major airports to help those with disabilities or difficulties – as is the case in Canada. We also recommend urgent action to promote voluntary and community sector engagement with the Criminal Justice System, and the role it can play in rehabilitative and preventative measures.”

“All those taking up retirement pension should be supplied automatically with details of volunteering opportunities, including given contact details for local and regional voluntary action coordinators.

Notice, this document is a product of the last government.

Notice, David Blunkett was asked to write the document prior to the financial collapse.

My Black Cat is reading it over and over again.

She thinks it describes “The Big Society”

Which is a product of this government……..

Funny that.



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  1. When my mum was still alive and being cared for, I was given carer hours from Alzheimer Scotland. They were very good and of the care agencies I worked with they were definitely the best, but I was always uneasy about it. I didn’t feel it was the business of Alzheimer Scotland to be providing the care that they did and it seemed to me that our council was contracting out a lot of services that they should have been supplying themselves. I don’t know how much of the carers’ wages were paid by the council and how much through fundraising by AS themselves but I remember thinking that if it went too far we would be relying entirely on charity to provide personal care and I wondered if that was the intention. Btw the emblem of the Fabian society is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I wondered about their involvement in Common Purpose, because it seemed near to their philosophy, but didn’t really find a link until you provided this one. Good work, My Black Cat..

  2. What a clever Black Cat. Can Dr Grumble smell that rat of hers? Or is the smell coming from somewhere else?

  3. A very clever Black Cat indeed.

    It is interesting that Dave criticized Fabianism in his Big Society speech, regarding The Big Society as an answer to the social problems caused by Fabianism, which he felt “held a more mechanistic view of the state – that it could and should command the state.”

    Whatever the spiel from an individual party – all peas in the same pod really?

    Anna :o]

  4. Well, let’s not nitpick over nomenclature if society benefits in the end, right? Big Society sounds like a new improved & expanded Citizen’s Connection:
    “ is the biggest website in the UK for active citizens – packed with advice for people who want to make a change. aims to help ordinary people do extraordinary things. This could mean volunteering for two hours a week, campaigning about an issue that you really care about, becoming an MP, or launching a charity.

    The site has been created by Common Purpose, an independent educational organisation which aims to improve the way society works by increasing the number of informed individuals who are actively involved in shaping the future of the areas in which they live and work.”

    About £2 million funding from Camelot. And what a big difference it made to all our lives!
    Oh hang on it then became Just Do Something! It’s a good job someone knows where our money should be spent.*/

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone, My Black Cat is still whirring about with her crazy conspiracy theories. To give her credit, though, she seems to be spot on in her notion that Common Purpose has links with government. Hardly a conspiracy though … David Cameron is now openly embracing Common Purpose and it seems reasonable to conclude that this charity is recognised as a breeding ground for chairs and board members of the multitude of other charities that have mushroomed in recent years. To what end? Big Society, charitisation, nudge..nudge, volunteering, donating, Happy Giving, Common Purpose, Change? Different names, same idea.

  6. […] Mutual Action, Common Purpose, Third Sector : Big Society ? The Third Way? « The Witch Doctor. […]

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