The Big Society Debate

The Big Society Debate

A New Agenda for Social Welfare?

Edited by Armine Ishkanian and Simon Szreter

The book is divided into two sections, history and policy, which together provide readers with a historically grounded, internationally informed, and multidisciplinary analysis of the Big Society policies. The introduction and conclusion tie the strands together, providing a coherent analysis of the key issues in both sections. Various chapters in this study examine the limitations and consider the challenges involved in translating the ideas of the Big Society agenda into practice.

Chapter 5: Big Society and the National Citizen Service: Young People, Volunteering and Engagement with Charities c.1900–1960

Kate Bradley

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


5. Big Society and the National Citizen Service: young people, volunteering and engagement with charities c. 1900–1960 Kate Bradley Whilst Big Society has yet to be firmly defined as a concept, certain elements that formed part of the picture had crystallised before the General Election in 2010. One was the need to involve more young people in volunteering projects, to encourage them to mix with other young people from different backgrounds to build up their social capital, and to then take up positions of leadership in their local communities. This element came together under the banner of the National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme. NCS was piloted in summer 2011, with 12 schemes of vigorous outdoor activities followed by action in the community for over 10 000 16-year-olds in England (DirectGov, 2010). A nationwide scheme will roll out in summer 2012. Government figures suggest that the first year of the scheme cost about £13 million, due to rise to £37 million in 2012 (Phillips, 2011). The NCS is not a compulsory scheme, unlike its namesake, the National Service that was operational between 1939 and the early 1960s. The choice of the scheme’s title very clearly aims to tap into the popular idea of National Service as a period of positive transformation in the lives of young people, without conveying its more problematic aspects or the real differences between what is suggested by this evocation and what is actually proposed. National Service was conscription into the armed forces in order to...

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