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Community interaction should be one of our five-a-day, says ResPublica

Community interaction should be one of our five-a-day, says ResPublica
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Community interaction should be one of our five-a-day, says ResPublica1

Governance | Tania Mason | 27 Jun 2012

Meetings of community groups or neighbourhood gatherings should be treated as one of our ‘five-a-day’, according to a new report from think tank ResPublica that will be launched today by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Clubbing together: The hidden wealth of communities says that regular interaction with other people in groups of common interest is vital for the health and prosperity of individuals and for the nation in general.

It says that while David Cameron’s Big Society vision was intended to boost social action and community participation, it lacked any concrete implementation plan.

The report calls on the government to prioritise new policies to dramatically change the way that people in the UK “meet and mix”.

Such policies include eliminating VAT on commercial and empty spaces, reducing business rates on private spaces that work for the community, and using shops and schools as clubhouses.

The report, which is published in conjunction with the Bingo Association, states that governments have focused too much on individuals, emphasising volunteering and individual giving at the expense of communities and clubs.  This, it says, has created a “civic deficit” evidenced by data such as the fact that UK citizens spend 17 hours a week watching TV and one hour doing formal voluntary work.

In order to address this, policy development should promote social activity, “and treat attending a community a gathering or associating in clubs and groups as one of our ‘five-a-day’ – an essential element in our health and wellbeing”, Respublica says.

The report adds that putting social groups at the heart of town centres would unlock huge untapped potential wealth by revitalising communities and boosting town centre economies.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles will officially launch the report at an event this afternoon.

Barbara
28 Jun 2012

All this well but when should I do all these things? I leave home at 6.55am, commute for the following 1h 50mins to start work at 8.45am; leave work at 4.30pm to be home 6.45pm. If I'm in a bravado mood I can contemplate on cooking a dinner, if not - a sandwich will have to do. Yes, I do fancy watching one of many 6.30 - 7pm news on telly. 8pm - telly off, I'm enjoying a quiet hour with a book. Before 10pm I usually sleep, recharging batteries for another day in trains, buses and the tube. I'm not an exception, commuter trains are packed from 6am to 10am in a morning and 4pm to 8pm in the afternoon whichever direction one will look at. And I don't have childcare issues, whole day for me!
The only opportunity for me is a weekend scheme of any sort - volunteering, community activism in some consistent manner, interest clubs. Guess what: it is virtually impossible to find anything like that because poeple want to have a weekend! Oh irony!
Naturally, it's very easy to become unemployed these days and reap benefits of long days waiting to be filled with meaningful activities but somehow I don't fancy this option.
For me there is hardly any other alternative than commercial solutions - full-paid memebrship gyms, cinemas, pubs. These services are available during weekend. And good they are, after all it is a small business that keeps us all going...

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