People with their hands up

Our pledge on place and the future of the social sector

Against a backdrop of growing need and a shrinking state, the social sector needs effective answers and solutions. Here we launch a commitment by charities, funders and infrastructure bodies to work in a way that emphasises place as a positive way to achieve the changes we are all working towards.

7 December 2018

Let us know if you’d like to add your organisation to this campaign, and please share with your local networks. 

Up and down the country, charities and the wider ‘social sector’ bind society together. They make thriving, healthy and happy communities. More than just streets or towns, they make places.

Focused on their causes, many social organisations have seen this place making power as a by-product of their other work, if they have seen it at all. But in a time of economic, political and social dislocation, a growing number are grappling with the concept of place as a key plank of public policy,

We are a group of charities, think tanks, social infrastructure and umbrella organisations that want to rethink how the social sector works with partners, communities and the causes we champion. We believe engaging with people in the places they live and build communities improves the social sector’s efficacy, accountability and legitimacy—and maximises both our social impact and mission.

We have come together to advocate and begin to campaign for a broad shift in thinking towards more meaningful forms of place-based social change and transformation, adding our voices to the growing chorus of local government and progressive business figures calling for the same.

Service development, delivery and collaboration with local people to meet the needs of place (as opposed to providing a service that is then offered to places) is the key. This comes naturally to some social sector organisations. For others it will require learning, work and support, which we pledge to offer.

It will mean taking on new responsibilities in the organisation of local places, the partnerships and strategies that underpin them. It will also require fresh, collective thinking about the long-term future of commissioning and public service markets, stretched to their limits after nearly a decade of austerity.

As a group, we are committed to learning from those who are doing it and helping those who aren’t. We will use our organisations to innovate, disseminate best practice and share knowledge in the process.

Our organisations are already working on a range of place-based initiatives. Over the course of 2019 we will:

  • Discuss how to better shape and agree the place agenda with partners, policymakers, funders and local people;
  • Make the case for a range of models of place-based organisation, leadership, partnership and delivery and try to understand if there are common features which make them effective;
  • Encourage better sharing and utilisation of data across the sector—and between the social, public and private sectors more widely;
  • Think about how we can work better together to overcome the ongoing effects of austerity on the sector, including the potential for reforming commissioning processes and realising the aspirations for collaborative commissioning in the 2018 Civil Society Strategy;
  • Share what exists and encourage new, locally developed, tools that can be used by communities, councils, businesses and charities to build and renew their place networks from the ground up, and disseminate existing ones;
  • Agree priorities for re-investment in social infrastructure—and how we can help bring this about; and
  • Promote the need for social sector improvement, including new models of support for small-to-medium charities provided by large charities, other social organisations and the private sector.



Nathan Yeowell, NPC

Jane Ide, NAVCA

Kathy Evans, Children England

Andy Melia, Business in the Community

Oonagh Aitken, Volunteering Matters

Kristina Glenn, Islington Giving

Arvinda Gohil, Community Links

David Mortimer, ERSA

Ed Wallis, Locality

Rachel Rank, 360Giving

Paul Perkins, Save the Children

Joanne Cholerton, 3SC

Tom Neumark, Peel Institute

Jon Brown, NSPCC

Caroline Slocock, Civil Exchange

Rhidian Hughes, VODG

Alison Navarro, Community Action Sutton

Chris Child, Shropshire VCSA

Pat Fitzsimons, Basingstoke Voluntary Action

Andy Collins, Borderline Voices

Polly Neate, Shelter

Paul Morrish, LandAid

John Miles, Kilburn Older Voices Exchange (KOVE)

Alison Page, Salford CVS

Darren Knight, Bolton CVS

Martin Preston, Macc

Ben Gilchrist, Action Together, 10GM

John Tizard, President, NAVCA

Nicola Frost, Devon Community Foundation

Graeme Duncan, Right to Succeed


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