Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 18, 2012

Big Society is not a child of David Cameron.


The Witch doctor thinks it might be time to revisit a post from from some time ago.

She and My Black Cat are not daft. The evidence points to the fact that “The Big Society” is NOT a product of David Cameron’s government.

It is a Think Tank Phenomenon.

All parties want us to work for nothing for some charity or another, for government, for public services or for the private sector.

It is called The Charitisation of Society.

Charitisation is not new. Society has always been kept afloat by “working” for nothing – putting in extra hours at the day job, caring and supporting relatives, friends, neighbours and those outside the immediate circle. Raising funds and performing risky and brave acts during emergencies etc etc.

It was generally “bottom up” approach and individuals felt they had ownership of their decisions.

This has been quietly changing for some time, but helped by the Olympics this change is now sprinting towards gold as governments now and in the future attempt to harvest our feelings of goodwill for their own purposes. Change agents are at work. NUDGE is at work. The Behavioural Insight Team is at work.

Volunteering worked for the Olympics.

That was to be expected.

But volunteering for  the Olympics is very different from feeding patients day in and day out in a geriatric ward because  there are not enough professionals employed or are willing to do this basic service that they used to be proud to call an important part of nursing.

Here is what we said back in 20o9:

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. Dear WD Very interesting because the CAB is going the same way because it has lost some of its legal funding and is going to sack some paid staff and replace them with volunteers. It is going to be selling its services to the private sector and to the NHS but the people doing the work will be volunteers. S.

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