Third Sector reports:
After an all-night sitting in the Lords, Chris Rennard tells Third Sector how his group hopes to pin down some practical measures for building the big society…
The Liberal Democrat peer pours a strong coffee, sips it and perks up. He says electoral reform is one of his big interests because it is an important way of getting people to take an active interest in the issues that affect their local area.
He believes the same is true of the voluntary sector’s work, which is why he agreed to chair the Commission on the Big Society, set up by Acevo, the umbrella body for chief executives.
“People need to feel that they don’t have to wait to be asked to get involved in their local communities,” he says. “We need to make sure there’s no reticence about setting out to do things. That’s what the big society is all about.”
Rennard says the commission’s approach is broadly supportive of the big society agenda. “I recognise that some people, even those in government, are cynical about the idea,” he says.
“It was not a very effective election message because people didn’t understand it. But I think it will work in government. I’m personally impressed by the sincerity of many Conservatives who say the big society is what they would have wanted, regardless of public spending levels.”