From co-operation to competition and fragmentation

Listen to us cartoonThe experience of neighbourhood youth projects in Newcastle – In our latest story about commissioning, Michael Bell from the Patchwork Project in Newcastle describes the experience of local groups bidding against the big boy Barnardo’s..


Several years ago nine neighbourhood-based projects from acrossNewcastlestarted to meet in order to find ways of working better together, … Continue reading

Fight privatisation and win? – Yes it can be done!!

October 15th marked a decisive moment for anti-privatisation campaigners when the Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust announced that the county’s 8 community hospitals and health services (including 3000 nurses and other health workers would remain in the NHS. This reversed an earlier decision to outsource services by creating a ‘social enterprise’, in what would have … Continue reading

Commissioning has got to stop!

Cartoon of stressed-looking woman at a desk scattered with papersIn late 2011, a major metropolitan borough council advertised two invitations to tender for their adult social care advocacy and carers support services at the same time, consultation was in parallel and the results announced together within one joint budget. Important aspects were not consulted on, for example, that competitive tendering would be the route … Continue reading

Value what we do

How a CVS in Newcastle is using research to ‘speak truth to power’

Sally Young is the Chief Executive of Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services (NCVS), a large CVS with 500 members from big charities to small community associations. Newcastle historically is a deprived area with high unemployment. Sally says: “There’s a huge kind … Continue reading

Say what you mean and what you think

A contract with the local council has led a welfare rights service away from assessing and meeting community needs

A consortium of four different organisations – three registered local charities and one national organisation – successfully bid to run a welfare rights and community development service in a large inner city borough. It is a … Continue reading

We’re still here

A spirit of independence helps an older people’s project in Leeds keep going without council funding but it’s a struggle to provide the activities that people need 

Stanningley and Swinnow Live at Home Scheme (SSLaHS) was formed in 1988 by St. Thomas’ Church Group and became part of a neighbourhood network system that was unique … Continue reading

In Place of Austerity – putting the alternative argument

Here’s a good read that elegantly puts together different pieces of the jigsaw – the state of the economy, private sector influences on it, the undermining of public services and the welfare state, and how we might come together to resist the plans that the neo-liberals have for us.

In Place of Austerity’ is … Continue reading

5000 fewer managers, 4000 more doctors?

Learn to speak like a fully engaged, customer-facing choice moderniser…

Health Emergency have an entertaining and insightful guide to the language and spurious concepts used by those currently busying themselves with the dismantling of our welfare state. Have a giggle, get cross, pass it on:… Continue reading

Surprisingly scathing critique from Barings panel, but no call to arms

NCIA was pleased to see a strong attack on the effects of market-led commissioning models, but thinks the panel needs to be less cautious on the change that is needed on two key issues: funding and commissioning mechanisms, and the need for voluntary organisations to combine to fight off the threats to their autonomy.

NCIA … Continue reading

An essay on the ‘big society’

John SeddonJohn Seddon reflects on how a systems thinking method has improved public services but is now under threat from cuts, commissioning and ‘big society’ as the government fails to move beyond central control and large-scale initiatives.

David Cameron described the ‘big society’ as a ‘culture change’, where people are free and powerful enough to help … Continue reading