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?


Respect and Responsibility

Not a hitherto undiscovered Jane Austen oeuvre sadly, but a bright new future for us dribbling peasants. Last week Michael Gove promised that head teachers would have greater responsibility for their pupils outside schools. I imagine that some heads will be rubbing their hands together in glee and some will be sighing deeply at the thought of more things to do and of course Cameron’s Big Society is all based on communal responsibility.

 Well I’m looking forward to everyone taking more responsibility and when the time comes I promise to do my bit as we’re very good at blaming each other for our woes.

 There’s an activity I sometimes do with teachers based on a Have I Got News For You round, or perhaps it should be called the Blame Game. I give them some newspaper headlines with missing words and ask them to guess what goes in the gap. The point is to think about what people read over their cornflakes and how this might affect their opinions.

 In the interest of fairness, I try to include headlines from the major daily papers. These ones are all about children’s health and wellbeing. Have a go; I’ll start you off with an easy one. Answers at the bottom of the page.

Third of children are too _______

Child ________ health problems ‘to double’
_________ to be made responsible for curbing teen pregnancy and obesity
Daily Mail

Blinkered _______ fuel childhood obesity, says report
The Guardian

School note for parents who give children _______ _______ ______

_______ classes for every pupil at 15
The Sun

And finally my favourite and no, the answer is not ‘Zac Ephron’ as one wit wrote on a training course. 

____  _______ blamed for teen pregnancy
Daily Mail

answers in order: fat, mental, schools, parents, unhealthy packed lunches, sex, rap music. Did you get all the answers?

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