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Harnessing volunteer power for the health of the 'big society'
CEO of WRVS Lynne Berry has written an article for the Society Guardian about how using voluntary organisations to help reform the NHS would be a win-win situation.
She writes, "Whatever else it is, the "big society" is sector neutral. We in the third sector need to acknowledge that it's not all about us. Equally, it's not just about the creation of spin-outs from public bodies and the development of a new commissioning regime. It is about valuing the contribution that citizens make, and adding that into the economic equation.
Take health. The voluntary sector is keen to use its expertise in neighbourhood activism and citizen involvement to increase its role in health services. The NHS wants to embrace the big society too, though not much of last year's white paper on the NHS is concerned with small local enterprises or engaging the voluntary sector, but rather with commissioning at scale and finding substantial savings in primary and hospital care. A few providers may be social enterprises but there is little emphasis on valuing new ways of involving citizens in changing the way services are developed.
However, the principles of the big society – localism, decentralisation, transparency and accountability – are central to the vision of a reformed NHS. Giving power to communities and individuals can bring these ambitions together."
You can read the remainder of this article on the Society Guardian website
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