The Big Global Society and Engaging the UK Public

Earlier this week, RESULTS Executive Director Aaron Oxley spoke at the DEA Conference entitled “The Big Global Society: Unlocking Social Action on Global Issues.”

The entire conference was very useful in helping organisations to examine their role in a “Big Society” and how this works for those of us whose definitions of society extend beyond our borders. It provided a great forum for sharing our experiences and learning from each other about how to be more effective. The session Aaron spoke at was specifically focused on how all this translates into action: what can we do to engage the UK public in issues of international development and poverty within the framework established by our new government?

Tom Crompton from the World Wildlife Fund spoke at length on some interesting work being done by a number of organisations, looking at the mental and psychological frameworks that cause people to engage on certain issues in certain ways. This work on “Frames” is something that is of value to the entire sector as we look at how best to define ourselves in this new economic environment, and to ensure we are operating with a deeper understanding of what motivates people to take action.

Aaron then spoke about RESULTS particular model – that is, a deep engagement with a smaller number of activists who really learn and understand the issues and take focused, policy-level actions. This is very much complementary to larger organisations who engage more shallowly, but do it at very great breadth and engage a much larger group of the UK public. There was a lot of interest in our model, because it helps create very powerful activists, reinvigorate citizenship in the best possible ways, and, ultimately, is about getting real results for the poor around the world.

Jo Kitterick then spoke about how CAFOD works, and how they engage through the frameworks provided by the Catholic faith. It was a fascinating example of how a few core tenets – that the definition of “neighbour” knows no boundary, and a belief that poverty is inextricably linked to justice – can inform a powerful movement of people to take positive action in the world.

As far as the conference was able to explore ideas of what the “Big Society” really is, it does seem that the RESULTS model of citizen empowerment and engagement fits well within this narrative and provides an excellent way of engaging people with power for positive social change.

If you are reading this and are not yet involved with RESULTS and want to know more, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.


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