You know, in some ways I'd be a fabulous poster child for Shiny Dave Cameron's Big Society, if it weren't for the inconvenient facts that I have an instinctual, gut-level revulsion for the Tories, and think it's a fucking stupid idea. By day, I work for a giant financially self-sufficient mega-charity; by night I tweet for choice (amongst other things) for a charity so small we meet in the children's area of the Royal Festival Hall.
The thing about the Big Society is, it's not a bad idea, on first glance, if you don't think about it that hard. But to work properly it needs centralised direction and massive amounts of government funding - which raises the question of why we need to take these things out of government control in the first place. Which can only be explained by the government's ideological conviction that Government Is Bad. Yeah, easy target, but come on.
The charities I work for (Abortion Support Network and an organisation providing support to ex-service people) are stop-gaps. I want to live in a world in which Irish and Northern Irish women can access a safe, legal abortion in their own countries, without having to rack up ridiculous bills for travel and private medical procedures. I want to live in a world where people who've quite literally risked life and limb for their country - regardless of whatever shitty war they were sent to fight in - don't live in poverty because the government that asked so much of them suddenly forgets their names when they've left the front line. In an ideal world, the world I want to live in, we wouldn't have to exist.
We don't live in that world. Which is why I work for groups which plug the gaps left gaping wide by governments on both sides of the Irish Sea. And it's only those governments that can create the world I want to live in: a world where ASN and the RBL are just not needed. No Big Society is ever going to be Big enough for that.