A new report establishes the importance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) now more than ever, as they are at the centre of societal need and social change, providing support and services to citizens who are often the most disadvantaged.
The report is authored by Brexit Civil Society Alliance, made up of 80 CSOs across the UK, set up to work for open and accountable legislation, high levels of rights, funding and standards and clear governance as the UK leaves the EU.
With the UK leaving the EU and the COVID-19 pandemic, CSOs are expertly placed to provide key engagement between people and the state on a local and national level. The report states by being closest to the issues people face CSOs are vital to the democratic process; they can feed directly into policy and decision making that supports the needs of communities and represent a wide range of views and experiences
Several barriers facing Civil Society Organisations are outlined:
– Inconsistent and differing routes & mechanisms of engagement – especially across devolved local governments.
– CSOs dissuaded from speaking out about observed problems, specifically with restrictions during election periods.
– a lack of understanding about what Civil Society is, and the value of the work CSOs do.
Areas of best practice identified and how they may be achieved:
– Formalise mechanisms for engagement; documents setting out the relationship between civil society & government, establish (or review the current) forums for communicating key issues, and specific roles responsible for overseeing the engagement.
– Establish and encourage a culture of collaboration within government through staff training, guidance and models of best practice.
– Maintain consistent high standards of engagement through transparency and accountability – meet minimum standards and review them regularly.
– Utilise and connect with existing networks of CSOs as a way of hearing from the sector.
– End limitations on CSOs to advocate for the sector, challenge government decisions and hold government to account.
The report acknowledges some of these recommendations may already be in place, yet it is key for all parties to be engaged in any changes for them to be effective.
The full report also breaks down how CSOs currently engage with the democratic process, and details the process with devolved administrations across the UK, with Wales as a positive example of institutionalised engagement.
To download the full report click here
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