Do we need more social activists – and can they learn from organisations like Green Peace

March 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm 2 comments

By Peter Baeck

I recently read this really interesting feature story in the Danish newspaper Information (it’s in Danish, so unless you are one of our few Danish readers, I’m sorry!!), by Knud Vilby the chairman of Denmark’s Social political association. Vilby raises some interesting questions to what the role of volunteers in the delivery of public services should and shouldn’t be.  Most of these are directly transferrable to the debate in the UK around volunteering and the Big Society

In the article Vilby describe the growing political focus on how volunteers can contribute to public service delivery, and stress that volunteers should not replace public servants, but instead take on the role of advocates for the most disadvantaged, so that these get the public service they are entitled to and get the most out of it.

In that context Vilby argues for more ‘social action groups’ who through happenings and alternative events can help bring a focus on failures in social services and ultimately in social policy. He uses Green Peace as an example of how such action groups have been successful in bringing a focus on the environment and environmental policy, and highlight how the same type of activism doesn’t come from volunteers in the social field.

While I don’t necessarily agree with all of VIlby’s points, I do find his view interesting, and think he raises some good questions to the role of volunteers?  Why have the social equivalent of Green Peace not formed (or has it, and I’m just not aware of it?)  what would it look like, and how would it interact with the public services?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan Lockey  |  March 23, 2011 at 1:11 am

    ‘but instead take on the role of advocates for the most disadvantaged, so that these get the public service they are entitled to and get the most out of it’………. trade unions?

    See you on the march.

  • 2. Raj  |  March 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    You might be interested in learning about the work of Citizen Leader in the north east. The project doesn’t operate on a voluntary basis though – – but is an interesting example of a project working in the adult social care space (perhaps a fine line between social action group and co-producing?)


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