Today the Call to Action for the Common Good launched its web platform. The new website on the Call for Evidence for the Common Good will showcase the case studies, stories and analysis from the UK and beyond of how common good thinking and practice produces wider social, economic and environmental benefits. It also has a short animated video on the topic:

The Call to Action for the Common Good is a British initiative involving several organisations in the country. It started with a group of civil society leaders, including Volonteurope member CSV, exploring how a positive common good approach could address the serious challenges facing British society (for example austerity, political disengagement, lack of solidarity etc). CSV and its partners organised consultations with over 100 public, private and civil society agencies at events held in Windsor in April 2013 and in London in February 2014.

In June 2014 CSV, Civil Exchange, NAVCA and Locality drew on the insights and ideas from the consultations and published A Call to Action for the Common Good. The publication sets out the organisations’ vision for the common good and the principles that underpin it.

The initiative is growing and gathering more support from around the UK. Today we saw the launch of the Call for Evidence, making the campaign more public and more visible. Over the next few months, the project will be collecting more stories that illustrate successful ways of putting common good principles into practice in the UK and beyond. It will also promote debates on the challenges facing a common good way of thinking.

Those behind the project hope to disseminate a positive narrative of change to British society. This narrative focuses on cross-sectoral collaboration in order to promote the wellbeing of individuals and the prosperity of communities. It also challenges the pursuit of vested interests in particular sectors of society that do not contribute to the common good.

But the project is not only about positive discourses and constructive conversations. It also aims at motivating new ways of thinking and behaving in society so that central and local governments, businesses, charities, communities and individuals focus on solutions and approaches that benefit every one, not only the few.

The 4 main principles at the core of the initiative are:

  • Collaboration: a new style of collaborative and enabling government is needed – one that seeks to engage others through dialogue and partnership to achieve wider outcomes.
  • Institutions with a social purpose: would also recognize their part in creating the common good because ultimately it is in their interests to do so.
  • An inclusive society: everyone is empowered to give their best and society works for everyone. That means listening and responding to diverse needs.
  • Shared decision-making: people must have real power to shape those things that most affect them, such as vital public services and their living spaces.

These principles guide the initiative in identifying the things it stands for (collaboration, long-term ambition, doing by people, an economy serving human needs, no one left behind, valuing difference) and against (competition for its own sake, intolerance, short-term gain at any cost, command and control by the few).

Those behind the project believe this is the right time to act. As they put it, “we face an extraordinary combination of economic, social, and environmental challenges, from the local to the global” (p. 11). They also point to the predominance of short termism and perceptions that politicians and politics are remote and disengaged from the places in which people live their lives.

The Call to Action for the Common Good focuses its attention on the UK. Volonteurope is taking inspiration from this project to bring this debate to Europe. In collaboration with our members and partners, we will promote discussions on common good approaches, what this means in practice and how this can make a difference to people’s lives.

On 27 March, Volonteurope will host the conference “A Vision of the Common Good for Europe”. The event will take place in Riga, Latvia. It will kick start Volonteurope’s campaign on the issue and engage actors from different sectors of society in debates about the promotion of the common good.

We’ll soon be posting more information and opening registration for the event (which will be free of charge). Stay in touch with Volonteurope to learn more.

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If you are interested in knowing more about the UK Call for Evidence for the Common Good or would like to contribute specific case studies, blogs and ideas, please write to commongood@csv.org.uk and keep an eye on the website’s updates.