The Review Team developed the following definition of civil society:
Civil society is where people take action to improve their own lives or the lives of others and act where government or the private sector don't. Civil society is driven by the values of fairness and equality, and enables people to feel valued and to belong. It includes formal organisations such as voluntary and community organisations, informal groups of people who join together for a common purpose and individuals who take action to make their community a better place to live.
Civil society encompasses individuals, informal groups and formally constituted organisations that take action to improve communities lives.
The report uses the term “civil society support” to describe what is commonly called “infrastructure”, partly because the term can be more easily understood outside of the sector and partly to reflect the fact that a range of support is available beyond that of traditional infrastructure organisations.
This report uses the term “communities” to denote both communities of interest and geographically based communities.
The following definition of co-production was developed:
Co-production is where Londoners work with those in power, and each other, in a way in which all voices are heard equally in developing a shared understanding of need and in crafting solutions to make London a better place.
This report uses the term “local public sector” to encompass local authorities and health.
This report proposes a new vision and system for civil society and how it should be supported in future.
1 A shared understanding of need should be co-produced, with communities driving this process, and with the involvement of a range of other players
2 Communities should be enabled to find and deliver their own solutions where possible.
3 Frontline volunteers, groups and organisations’ role would be to fill gaps in provision which communities can’t or don’t want to provide for themselves.
4 Civil society support would provide a “triage and connect” function to diagnose the issues faced by frontline volunteers, groups and organisations and match them to the right support. Support could be from a range of sources within and beyond civil society.
5 Communities, civil society support and funders should act as catalysts for action and also identify emerging needs.
6 Civil society support, independent funders and the local public sector should share data gleaned through co-producing a shared understanding of need, and information on policy developments and best practice.
7 A London Hub, working with specialist support, should develop standardized resources where possible, which can be customized and delivered locally. The London Hub could be made up of a network of organisations or be a formally constituted body.
8 Frontline volunteers, groups and organisations, civil society support and independent funders should campaign and influence locally and regionally.
9 Civil society support and independent funders should act as catalysts to drive improvements in quality, based on peer support and challenge.
10 The GLA should collate, analyse and provide data on civil society and communities’ needs.
11 The GLA,elected representatives, London Councils and independent funders should bring civil society into strategic planning and decision making about the future of London.
12 London Councils, the GLA, elected representatives, independent funders and the local public sector should work together to ensure consistent commissioning and funding of civil society support.
The Review Team developed ten foundations upon which it built its vision and recommendations for the future:
1 Empowering communities should be at the heart of civil society
2 Civil society should be at the heart of London
3 Focus of debate and reform should widen from “civil society organisations” to “civil society” to encompass the full breadth of those working to deliver better outcomes for Londoners
4 Challenge and accountability should be built into the new system
5 Support organisations should enable civil society to find its own solutions
6 Funders need to adapt
7 More flexible and “thought through” approaches to volunteering are needed
8 Effective leadership and governance of civil society is needed
9 Civil society has a vital role in campaigning and influencing decision makers
10 Civil society needs to adopt the right culture
Four principles underpin the proposed vision and system for civil society. In summary they are:
1 Pragmatic co-production, in which communities have an equal voice in developing a shared understanding of need and in crafting solutions, with an open recognition of the relevant constraints
2 Building community strength and self-reliance should be the aim of civil society, with frontline volunteers, groups and organisations filling gaps that communities can't or don't want to fill themselves
3 The following values should underpin civil society: transparency, fairness, equality, openness, trust and accountability
4 The Review’s theory of change should underpin the new vision and system for civil society
The following support needs were commonly reported by both frontline organisations and local support organisations: