The shape of civic life is shifting and shifting rapidly.
From technology to politics, the climate to the economy, and the constitution to identities, the world around us is changing more quickly and arguably’ more unpredictably too.
Wages in Britain have fallen by more than 10% in the last decade and working patterns are modifying. Inequality has increased. Information is more accessible than ever – both to us, and about us. Britain is leaving the EU. Trust in institutions – from politics to the media to charities – has fallen.
Business has changed: in less than a generation, long established firms have disappeared and new corporate giants have taken their place.
In many ways, civic life has transformed too. Lower proportions of us than ever attend formal church or join trade unions. Old hobbies are dying fast, and new habits consume our lives.
But that doesn’t mean that communities aren’t still coming together to protect rights, build better lives for themselves and their communities, have fun and be creative. Just as we always have, we are finding ways to organise together. And the organisations we do this through are adapting in turn.
Large charities have been forced to step in as austerity has reduced and refocused public services and new technologies have allowed people to reach out to each other in new ways.
Civil Society Futures is a two-year inquiry which creates a space for a much needed conversation among those involved in all forms of civic action, how to maximise the positive effects of civic action and provide a guide to how to release its potential to drive positive change. The feedback gathering during this initial stage of the inquiry will help shape the next stage.
Community Southwark is hosting one of a series of open conversations between individuals and organisations to discuss how the world is changing, how civic action is changing, and how civil society organisations can adapt in order grasp those changes and bring about a better society.
Change has always been inevitable: it is the only constant in history. It brings vast opportunities as well as risks. But citizens and our organisations must find ways to understand it, to grasp it and to shape it. And that is what this inquiry is about.