The Big Little Society

Today the Prime Minster relaunches the Big Society. This will iron out the misunderstanding that it’s just a way of getting things for free once the bulk of staff have been redundant from councils and third sector groups have their budgets cut to the bone.

 No funding for schools? Set up a free school! Library closing? Run it yourself! Woodlands being sold off? Plant an acorn! Leisure centre shut? Go for a jog around the woodlands acorn seedlings!

 Rather than Big Society I prefer Big Little Society. I’m lucky enough to live in a part of London where there really is strong community. We have a community choir run by the music department of the local secondary school. We have a summer festival run by locals and we have a community Arts centre. We also have a community forum where we can share ideas and ask questions.

Our house has just sprung a leak and I’ve just found a list of local plumbers on there. The sergeant from the Safer Neighbourhood Team answers questions on the forum and the ward councillors sort out local problems.

 I’d also like to see some more basic community issues being addressed across the country too so we can all take more responsibility. Here’s my list for the Big Little Community:

  1. Make friends with your neighbours and keep an eye out for each other. Offer to keep an eye on their property and invite them over every now and them for Christmas/ Eid/ Diwali etc.
  2. Sweep the snow from your little patch of Great Britain and don’t be put off by gloomy emails about being sued if someone slips outside your house.
  3. As above but with litter. It only takes a moment to pick up the rubbish outside your house and pop it in the bin/recycling. And pick up your neighbour’s junk mail that he insists in throwing out onto the pavement. Or is that just me? If you live in a super clean part of the country, vow to pick up and dispose of two bits of litter when you’re out and about.
  4. Challenge anyone who drops litter without believing they’re going to stab you. I can’t help myself doing this; I think it’s the teacher in me. Mr R once challenged a woman who chucked her rubbish on the ground in front of her kids. ‘If you’re so worried about, ‘ she replied, ‘you pick it up.’ So he did because he was.
  5. Keep an eye on other people’s kids when they’re out and about but tick them off if they do something silly (eg point 4). Parents: allow this to happen.
  6. Use local shops as well as out of towners but insist on using your own bags. Hold the door open for the next person and say please and thank you. You may also wish to smile.
  7. As a wise man once said, ‘Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights.’ And stand up for others too. If you think that something is wrong or unfair in any part of your life, don’t whinge about it, do something. And if anyone upsets your friends, family, colleagues or neighbours, stand up for them.

 Right I’m off to phone a plumber. So in this new Big Little Society what would you like to see?

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5 Responses to The Big Little Society

  1. guerrillamum says:

    I would like to see a government that values everyone. This is their great failure, they only value certain sectors of our society and it shows!

  2. citizenr says:

    That’s a big ask but why shouldn’t we aim high? Maybe one day.

  3. jgh says:

    “Sweep the snow from your little patch of Great Britain and don’t be put off by gloomy emails about being sued if someone slips outside your house.”

    I keep telling people in my local patch that the Sheffield Improvement Act of 1818 makes it illegal to not clear the snow from in front of your property, with a potential fine of 10 shillings if you don’t.

  4. Andrew Brown says:

    Your point 5 is an interesting one. The last government had a National Indicator about perceptions that people had about how well parents do at taking responsibility for their parents. I mapped that against drug use by young people and there seemed to be a correlation…

    http://bit.ly/gc0aqL

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