Social Action

The UK General Election is only four months away. This will be a very significant general election with potentially major implications for the future of the state, the economy, society and consequently for the charity and voluntary and community sector.
While we are enormously grateful to the baby boomers for digging deep into their pockets for so many years, I believe there is a new generation waiting in the wings who, if their current 'giving' is anything to go by, will be just as, if not more generous in ways that only they will determine.
Last week, it was great to see one Cabinet Minister getting out of the 'conference zone'. Justine Greening might be Secretary of State for International Development but while in Birmingham, she took the opportunity to find out what's going on closer to home with a visit to a school in one of the most deprived parts of the city.
This week, some of the most socially and environmentally responsible brand's in the world are coming together to convince us that what brand of mascara you use, or what kind of watch you wear is as important as the career you've decided to pursue or the area you've opted to live in. And not for the reason you'd think.
National Citizen Service helps young people to feel that they can, and should affect positive change in their local communities. As the scheme marked the 100,000th participant this summer since 2011, I'm looking forward to welcoming the 200,000th in an even shorter time.
These are going to be critical months for the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and charities more generally - and this is especially the case for the national sector bodies. It will also be a critical period for all of us and there needs to be an open debate about the future of society which these bodies can lead.
It was demoralising to see The Times' report that "almost a quarter of graduate employers have complained of being unable to fill vacancies despite record numbers of school leavers going to university." Once again, a 'mismatch' between what graduates can offer and the knowledge and skills asked for by employers has been blamed.
Government, the private, public and voluntary sectors are taking some big strides towards making social action a normal part of growing up in Britain. We have the opportunity to broaden that ambition to also make youth unemployment unheard of.
This week I was privileged to attend the launch of 'Step Up to Serve', a new cross-party and cross-sector national initiative to increase the number of young people taking part in social action across the UK... This is a vital campaign as the truth is we are currently failing to maximise the energy, talent and potential of millions of young people.
A new report we are publishing today lays bare the fact that the bulk of the people power that drives our charities is concentrated in a small minority of people. If you take together donations and time volunteered, we found that nine per cent of people are responsible for two-thirds of this social action in Britain.