Thursday 4 November
Formed out of intensive joint-working between leading infrastructure, representative and membership charities during the pandemic, The Civil Society Group has launched to increase collaboration, improve efficiency and effectiveness, and streamline engagement with governments.
The Civil Society Group aims to harness the collective strengths of organisations’ diverse networks, improve efficiency and effectiveness, and allow civil society to clearly articulate shared priorities and views to government. The group will build on the successes and vital role played by charities and social enterprises in communities during the pandemic. It will be open to any civil society representative, infrastructure, and member organisation.
From Covid coordination to a relationship for the recovery
The Civil Society Group evolved from the collaboration between civil society representative and member organisations during the pandemic. There was a need for sector infrastructure organisations to come together to support the delivery of vital charity services across communities, and to ensure the sector received support from decision makers.
The collaboration allowed leaders across civil society to share views, information, and mutual support. It also helped organisations involved to coordinate and respond to the increased need in their networks. There were clear benefits from this collaboration, including securing a £750m package for charities in England from government in April 2020 and developing the cross-sector #NeverMoreNeeded campaign to highlight additional support needed for the sector.
Charities, social enterprise, and volunteers play an important role in the continued response to Covid. The Civil Society Group aims to bring the efficiencies and effectiveness of the sectors’ emergency response to its work in the recovery from the pandemic.
Collaborating across civil society
The Civil Society Group is a place for sector leaders to exchange opinions and share ideas. It enables policies of mutual interest to be developed and promoted, and intelligence shared. The group is non-exclusive and aims to be comprehensive in its nature. It operates through a strategic oversight group working alongside three sub-groups focused on the main objectives of the collaboration: influencing, policy development and sharing information. A wide variety of organisations are already taking part, and member and representative organisations from across the sector are being encouraged to get involved.
While the group allows for a more coordinated approach to conversations between civil society and decision-makers, it will not seek to be the sole representative voice for the sector or to supplant the work of existing representative organisations or membership bodies. It seeks to accelerate their influence and draw on their diverse networks to help civil society to deliver support for communities more efficiently and effectively.
Changing the sector and improving relationships with government
The Civil Society Group has already begun its work across civil society and with government. The group are working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on four joint priorities for government and civil society (see notes to editors). They are developing new relationships with governments and politicians and exploring how civil society can support the ‘levelling up’ of communities. The group are also sharing information and updates with the Charity Commission and supporting the development of a framework for coordinated action on improving race equity across civil society.
Vicky Browning CEO of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) and spokesperson for The Civil Society Group said:
“We’ve shown during the pandemic that by working together, charities and civil society were able to help hold society together by delivering vital services during incredibly difficult times. As we look towards the future, the work of charities, social enterprise and others will be vital in bringing about a fair and equitable recovery from the pandemic.
“Even after changes to restrictions, we are continuing to see increasing inequality, placing further demand on charities and volunteers. The need for effective and efficient delivery of charity services will continue to be vital for society and The Civil Society Group will support this.
“The Civil Society Group will also allow civil society to speak clearly and directly to governments about our shared priorities and views and streamline and enhance our sector’s engagement with decision makers. With our proven track record of success in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic – including securing £750m of support for charities in England – this group will help to ensure recognition and support for the work charities and others are doing at the centre of the recovery in communities across the country.”
Joyce Fraser, Interim Chair of the Small Charities Coalition commented:
“Charities and social enterprises play a huge role in the lives of people and communities across the country. The Civil Society Group will help us take forward the benefits and lessons from the pandemic to ensure that collaboration is at the heart of how civil society operates. We are making working together the norm, not just something that happens in times of crisis. This will benefit the communities receiving support from the charities and social change organisations in our diverse networks and help ensure our collective voice is heard by decision makers in government.
“Collaboration is at the heart of what The Civil Society Group wants to achieve for wider society. We believe that the issues we face today can only be solved when we include everybody. The organisations we represent, from faith groups, charity shops, to local community operations and foodbanks, offer so much to our communities.”
Notes to editors
- For media enquiries please contact [email protected] / 07852 721 478
- For information about the membership of the Group and how to join, please contact [email protected]
- Download the Q&A sheet about the launch here
- Full list of participating organisations is here
About The Civil Society Group:
Our vision: Charities and other social change organisations are valued parts of our society and communities, providing effective, equitable support and opportunities for all. There is wide recognition that a strong civil society is a key part of creating stronger, more inclusive communities and a fairer, more prosperous economy and society.
Our purpose: Increasing collaboration between infrastructure, representative and member organisations across civil society to harnesses the collective strengths of the diverse charities and social enterprises in their networks. This supports the vital work of civil society to help build stronger, more inclusive communities and a fairer, more prosperous economy and society.
Our mission: We are making working together the norm, not just something that happens in times of crisis. We are identifying and collaborating on our shared priorities. We’re creating the space for charity and volunteer leaders to voice ideas and opinions, provide support to each other, and develop shared approaches to the challenges we face.
The aims of The Civil Society Group are to:
1) use our collective power to engage and work with civil society ministers, governments, and stakeholders to ensure the best outcomes for communities;
2) coordinate the identification, promotion, and support of programmes of mutually beneficial change across civil society, and;
3) maintain a mechanism for relationships, cooperation and communication of ideas and information.