BLOG: The Big Society is thriving in Coventry

Almost 10 years ago David Cameron launched his concept of the Big Society which was designed to  “to generate, develop and showcase new ideas to help people to come together in their neighbourhoods to do good things”.

Like many new ideas it was, of course, not original but looked to build on a tradition of communities helping each other out. It came in for a degree of derision and did not stand the test of time as a packaged policy initiative.

We have recently been involved in the refurbishment of the offices of the Coventry & District Samaritans – and to me it has summed up just what Cameron and his advisors were trying to capture.

The Samaritans is operated entirely by volunteers and at the centre they take 33,000 calls a year across 365 days, 24 hours a day.

When they came to see me back in February 2017 they were well underway with fund raising to improve their base in Earlsdon which, to be frank, was not a suitable environment for the work they were undertaking and the services they were offering.

We agreed to help and now two years later they have moved back in to a bright, modern, and wholly suitable base.

Deeley Construction has been involved, but the response from the business community has been superb. More than 10 companies have given their time at cost or for free and all of them were happy to help because they recognised not only the importance of the work the Samaritans does, but also the unbelievable commitment of those who work on their behalf often dealing with testing and distressing matters.

In an age with loneliness, anxiety and mental issues are making the headlines every day, their work has never been more important.

None of the companies involved were in it for the publicity or the glory, more that they have a sense of responsibility to their community and they realise the importance of that in a properly-functioning society in which every member matters.

So, several years after the government allowed their Big Society to wither on the vine in wake of the criticism it received, the concept is alive and well, and thriving in Coventry and, I believe, right across the UK.

Please bear that in mind when you see a Samaritans volunteer out on the street raising money.

The companies which worked on the scheme include architects IDP, Umberslade, Claddagh Electrical, CDE Contractors, Naughton Interiors, D B Heating & Plumbing, Nationwide Windows, Midlands Flooring, Cladding Components, Midlands Floor Screeding and G&M Carpentry

Peter Deeley, Managing Director