When you hear people talk about a sense of community what does it really mean?
Often we only hear it mentioned in negative terms when we lament how previous generations had a stronger sense of community, often pulling together and working for each other.
Foundation Scotland’s Shine A Light report suggests, however, that we may all be looking at the past through rose tinted glasses.
The report found that most people these days do actually want to contribute to their community, it’s just that they don’t know how to and are local charities and voluntary organisations are failing to engage them.
Most people these days do actually want to contribute to their community
What’s more young people – so often blamed for society’s problems – are not actually a lost generation rarely contributing to their local community. On the contrary, the report found the young are amongst the most concerned about their communities and are more committed than older people.
If the third sector wants people to contribute to their community, it clearly needs to support them better. It’s time to stop lamenting a golden age of community that didn’t exist and instead implement practical measures locally to enable people to get involved.
To this end the community foundation movement – which funds community projects largely via donations from major philanthropists – believes that investing £1bn in our communities by 2020 will enable them to help themselves.
It’s a bold initiative, but if successful could help demonstrate the power of autonomous communities, using preventative spending to enable self sufficiency and sustainability in areas such as planning, the environment and even law and order.
Then we can truly say the golden age of community has begun.