A few hackles seem to have been raised following an open meeting on 7 December 2010 to discuss the Big Society Show, convened by the Community Sector Coalition (CSC).
People at the meeting had the temerity to be openly critical of the government’s motives and intentions, and even discussed the need to resist them! About 30 groups were there, including some members of CSC (including us).
The meeting was written up in a Third Sector article, which – rather mischievously – drew attention to the fact that national agencies NAVCA and Community Matters are members of CSC. This prompted both organisations to distance themselves from the meeting and its anti-BSS stance.
Kevin Curley from NAVCA wrote a letter of complaint to CSC, was extensively quoted on the Civil Society website, and was given a right of reply by Third Sector to comment on a meeting that he wasn’t at.
Kevin’s letter says: “NAVCA and its members are pragmatists … We have approached the big society with an open mind.” To Third Sector he comments: “I think there is a risk that the Community Sector Coalition will get itself associated with an anti-big society position and that’s a risk I want to hold it back from.”
Matthew Scott, director of the CSC, told Third Sector: “This was not a formal statement of CSC’s position. Our purpose is to allow a range of voices to be heard.”
For us over here at NCIA the last word goes to John Plummer, the Third Sector journalist who put the moggies in with the ferals, who writes of the meeting in his blog: “Many voluntary sector conferences can be a bit sterile and formulaic. This one, organised by the Community Sector Coalition, was passionate and anarchic. It was probably the last conference I will attend in 2010 and it was certainly the most fun. It was also, without doubt, the most representative of the majority of people who work and volunteer in the third sector.” Quite so.
Catch up with more news like this in our December 2010 newsletter.