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Third sector boss calls for ‘concerted action’

The chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has called for more social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals to help strengthen modern Britain.

Speaking at his organisation’s annual conference in London, Sir Stuart Etherington said many of the problems facing society need ‘concerted action’ from the ‘neighbourhood to the United Nations’.

‘We can do more to champion volunteering and charities,’ Sir Stuart told delegates at the conference. ‘We can do more to make the case that a vibrant and engaged sector is the best way to strengthen modern Britain.

‘I am especially keen that we clearly articulate the benefits of people getting involved as active citizens and volunteers,’ he added.

‘I think that we are pushing at an open door here – people want to get involved. We are increasingly aware that it benefits our wellbeing, both as individuals and collectively as a society.’

And he warned that in this modern day and age, society and public services are missing the importance of human interaction.

‘As David Robinson so eloquently argues, we need to put people and human relationships back at the centre of so much of what we do,’ added Sir Stuart.

‘We need practises and habits that bring people together.

‘But I don’t want to stop at explaining why we are the solution, he told the conference. ‘I want us to grow our impact. I want us to make a bigger difference to the challenges I have talked about.

‘If anything we need more charities. And more social enterprises, more co-operatives and more mutuals.

‘We need a stronger civil society that is confident in speaking up, that is independent from government and business. I am convinced that people want to get involved. I am convinced that people in this country want to do good things – that they want to make a difference.  But I also hear that at times we make it difficult for them. That we get in the way.

‘Yes, we have challenges, but we continue to deliver,’ said Sir Stuart. ‘We continue to make a difference and we continue to be worthy of the public’s support and trust.  The response to the Grenfell disaster and the attacks in London and Manchester showed how responsive communities can be, how people will always come together in times of need.

‘We need to show that we can help those people to make a bigger difference.’

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