BMC & The Big Society – UNDO Feature

The Big Society is the big concept that has been pushed by the coalition government for a while now. It relies heavily on the voluntary sector and charity organisations taking up the slack, providing services where government organisations weak or fail to provide all together. In recent months we have hear how funding to public services and these charitable organisations is in the process of being cut or “rearranged”.

You may ask yourself how this affects us outdoorsy types. The rock we climb doesn’t need money to be there and many of the centres we use are privately owned. Well there may be a bit more to it than that.

The BMC is heavily involved in the Big Society and has been involved with charitable and voluntary communities before the Big Society concept was launched. The BMC regularly gather hundreds of people in each of its nine covering areas. These people represent local volunteers from each area and also make up the BMC national council. The BMC offer such services as:

  • Organise environmental improvements and regeneration through local community action
    and volunteering, such as Crag & landscape restoration projects.
  • Encourage communities to work together to enjoy, improve and understand their natural
    environment to choose a more eco-friendly and healthier lifestyle such as community based
    walking groups.
  • Provide training and development to help disadvantaged people learn new, practical skills.
  • Help to deliver public and community benefits through good practice advice like, Good
    Practice Publications, Green Guides and the Mountain Safety Forum.
  • Liaising and consultation with a large section of community as well as hard to reach sectors
    of society.
  • Developing an active and responsible membership by facilitating education and conservation
    projects that safeguard the access needs of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers.

The BMC is a landowner preserving, maintaining and ensuring access to areas much loved in the
walk/hike/climb communities.

This is vital to our outdoor pursuits and this is where cuts to voluntary organisations may have a
detrimental effect. Although cuts may not affect the BMC directly those charities and volunteer organisations working with or under the BMC may have to stop or reduce their services. Volunteers graciously give their time and skills for free but the insurance, equipment, transport, offices and administration vital in allowing the provision of the volunteer service certainly do not come for free.

A reduction in these services means a reduction in fresh blood to the outdoor scene, less people form inner city backgrounds getting out into the natural environment. This at worse could bring a growing disregard for our natural landscapes.

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