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David Wilcox

Here's hoping #TheWayAhead plans for a London resource hub become more networky

3 min read

Further ideas for a resource hub to support London civil society have been circulated to those attending tomorrow's major conference on The Way Ahead. As I explain below, I think it is one of the most challenging issues in the programme.

Previously The Way Ahead published the recommendations of five working groups, as I reported here. The Way Ahead web site also has reports on the hub from consultants advising London Voluntary Service Council, and local Councils for Voluntary Services. The latest ideas aren't on the site, but since they are widely circulated I've taken the slight liberty of uploading them. Here's all the links

The Way Ahead is in part a response to cuts in funding which mean that many support services at local and London level are under threat. One of the key issues is how far support can be centralised in a hub, and how far it should be decentralised in CVSs and other organisations.

I've contributed to some of the working groups, as well as working with LVSC on the idea of Networked City, which aims to bring more network thinking and tech into The Way Ahead.

A month ago I drafted some ideas on how to rethink the notion of a hub as a network - or lots of linked networks. I didn't publish them at the time, but now seems a good opportunity to throw them into the pot.

Here's a radical option for a London civil society Hub - build a network of people and projects

I've included this provocation:

The risk is that the Hub will be designed on a business-as-usual model that reflects a political compromise between the existing organisations struggling to maintain their existence in the face of funding cuts. There will be a new organisation, or consortium, with representatives from existing ones that will develop its own mailing lists, newsletters, web site, events, training courses, publications.

This centralised or consortium hub will get some start up funding - but it will probably have to generate more by fund raising and developing services in competition with existing organisations. People won’t share their knowledge because they are in competition.

So far the latest hub proposals are not much more than a shell charitable company effectively merging LVSC and Greater London Volunteering, so there's plenty of opportunity to take a networked and decentralised approach. There's some mention of that in the proposals, and I'll be listening out tomorrow for more.

Either way I'm certain we'll get some radical, bottom-up ideas at a event on July 12.

An open event for people active in their community to network and build alliances for collective action

As part of this event we will explore how community groups and Londoners can influence ‘The Way Ahead’ agenda and proposed London Hub.