The social researcher places the actions and power of civil society and neighbourhoods at the centre. These actors can also make very positive contributions.
Cormac Russell, the director general and founder of Nurture Development Limited, delivered the opening speech at the 7 th Catalonian Third Sector Congress, an event that brought different organisations and actors from the sector together to revisit the social reconstruction in the post-pandemic context.
This idea, where the community steps out of its role as a helper and institutions as the ones helping is based around three concepts: on the one hand, the need to recover and discover civil society’s assets: “What are the available resources”, what is civil society proud of?” This should allow institutions to establish a better relationship with associations and people working in neighbourhoods, taking their real needs into consideration (and not what were believed to be their needs, as up until now).
The last concept behind this idea is based on putting action and the community at the centre. In his address, Russell explained the task not only of third sector social organisations, but also of much more informal networks, such as a book club or a trekking club, that generate mutual support among citizens.
Russell is the author of ‘Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD): Looking Back to Look Forward’, a book where he was able to witness first-hand how everywhere in the World, “normal” people have been able to improve their environment and this is precisely the way he believes societies should progress.
To do this, this social researcher believes it is necessary to have collaboration between the social third sector and the institutions as actors that are complementary.
At the same time, he mentions three changes that are necessary: stepping away from what doesn’t work and moving closer to what makes us stronger; forgetting about the idea of only providing services and also looking for the value the community can contribute; and avoid prioritizing our o personal agenda and priorities to come closer to the needs in the community.
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