© Civil Society Futures
The term 'civil society' has a full Wikipedia page for those wanting to research it further, and there is also a lengthy document published by the Government that you can download and read too for a huge amount more information.
In simple terms though, we try to understand it as people coming together to change things for the better, without asking for permission or waiting for someone else to get a plan together. It's based on actions; and specifically requires collaboration to make progress.
It frequently includes charities, co-operatives, community interest companies (CICs), charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) and social enterprises (private companies with social objectives) - basically any not-for-profit groups doing work for the common good.
We believe Sheffield has a very strong civil society. Which isn't to say it's perfect - there's plenty of friction and disagreement, often with the public sector because of regulations and laws in place that can seem to prevent getting things done at pace. So to change - and support civil society better to fulfil functions that either can't be provided by public or private sector, or aren't relevant to be provided by those sectors - we need to understand more.
We know from the last State of Sheffield report that there are approximately 3,300 voluntary and community groups alone in the city. But what does this mean for our economy? For our health and wellbeing? For Sheffield as a place to live, work, study or visit? We don't believe a city has ever carried out any reports or analyses of this before, but we have started to do so. Because we believe that perhaps this is one of the reasons why Sheffield is such a unique place and why people love it so much.
Below are some examples of civil society in action in the city. We will be trying to update this with subsequent examples as much as we can, as well as publish our report once it is available.