One point that seems to have been missed is the role business should play in the Big Society. There will be many companies out there that say by fundraising for charity, they are already showing their ‘Big Society’ credentials. As important as these commitments are – and I am proud to be a big charity supporter – in this current economy, it might just not be enough.Businesses must a bit more interest in where we live instead of always expecting others, particularly government, to sort it out for us. Employers of all sizes should have a duty of care to their communities. In a lot of cases, it is home to their workers and their customers and a two-way relationship with a community is essential to mutual success. I’m providing skilled labour and mentoring so that 40 to 50 out-of-work young people can renovate their own youth centre in south London. The project, which runs throughout March, will give the 16 to 25-year-olds skills that can help them get into employment, give them some civic pride and restore a valuable community resource to its former glory. To me, that’s what the Big Society is all about. It boils down to people helping other people, be it with money, a bit of good old-fashioned volunteering or, in our case, free labour and expertise to make a real difference. We’ve pulled together with a few other parties including a DIY chain and a training company in an example of what can be done if you stop making excuses. This project in Streatham isn’t about political parties and if we and others hadn’t got off our behinds and mucked in, it wouldn’t be happening. I would urge other businesses to have a look around their local area and see if there is something similar, big or small, that they could do for someone else.
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