NCIA's legacy site
This is the legacy site of the National Coalition for Independent Action. As of January 2016 NCIA is closed as an organisation. However, we hope that our work and our perspectives will continue to be of interest for some time to come. Here, therefore, we have assembled and re-grouped the principal publications, research reports, campaign materials, interviews, media pieces and other evidence that we accrued between 2006 and our closure.
We hope that by accessing this site you will be able to gain insight into the reasons why we set up NCIA, what we did during the nearly 10 years that we were busy with it, and why, in 2015, we decide to stop. And under the various drop down tabs you can read and download the material and evidence that we assembled to argue our case.
The NCIA website is also part of the British Library's national web archive and you can access our entire website here as it was presented at points between 2010 and our closure.
What and why
Voluntary or citizen action in the UK has a proud history. Whether you call it civil or uncivil society, activism or volunteering, charities or mutual aid, direct action or campaigning, the exercise of freedom and free will by individuals acting together on matters of mutual interest is part of our democratic tradition. A wise government understands that such activities need nourishment and encouragement, even if this means encouraging dissent and opposition to those in power. Attempts to curtail, co-opt or control these freedoms will erode and undermine our civil society, our political health, and the capacity of ordinary people and communities to get what they need for themselves.
In 2006 a small group of people came together with such fears: that the independence of voluntary citizen action was in danger, particularly in the terrain known as the 'voluntary sector'. Over the following 10 years, as neo-liberal policies in the UK grew unchallenged, this group widened and did what it could to sound an alarm bell of the damage being done to communities and to citizen action. The NCIA story is held within this website available to others who continue on the same path.
Unfettered action by citizens - to hold powerful interests to account and act as an alternative to the state and market - is needed now more than ever. We are faced by a catalogue of trends requiring such action: the dismantlement of the post-war welfare settlement and the social protections and services embodied by this, uncontrolled profit-hungry conglomerates, a massive transfer of wealth to the already rich, gross and rising inequality, erosion of our civil liberties, planetary degradation, conflict and resulting migrations of desperate people. We hope and believe that such citizens' action will find its rightful democratic voice during these dangerous times.
For a quick introduction to NCIA's basic message, have a look at the video below - a speech by NCIA's Andy Benson at the 2012 TUC conference on Outsourcing and Austerity: Civil Society and the Coalition Government. A fuller explanation of NCIA's history, perspective, rationale, and activities can be found at the About NCIA tab.
What people said about NCIA
NCIA existed for nearly 10 years. As part of our work around closing the group, we asked supporters and allies what they had gained from our work. We have gathered this feedback together into one document which you can access here - What they said about NCIA Here are some tasters of what they said......
“One of NCIA's main achievements has been to 'win the argument'. We have developed the analysis and provided the evidence of a serious threat to the independence and identity of the voluntary sector....”
‘When we came across NCIA – it all made sense – what was happening to us – we had a name for it then – so we dropped out about 7 years ago as an organisation and we are now ‘under the radar’ – NCIA helped us to articulate what we wanted…’
‘NCIA? – they have been brilliant for their honesty, willingness to speak up and out, and a breath of fresh air when everyone else seems to be just playing the game.’
'NCIA helped put a name to what I was experiencing', 'it gave me a voice', 'it is brilliant - no-one else is saying this.’
Useful links to other groups and campaigns
We closed NCIA because we thought it was the right time to do so. We wanted to move aside and make space for new alliances and ways of working. We hope that these will continue the struggle to defend independent voluntary action from co-option and control by damaging state and private sector interests, and use their independence to fight for social justice.
If you have been drawn to this site because you share our determination to fight the damaging changes we are living through, then you may find our list of useful-links of help and interest.