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What is The Way Ahead?

The Way Ahead is a joint initiative by civil society, public sector bodies and funders. The ultimate goals of the Way Ahead are a thriving civil society which is resilient, collaborative and sustainable and which will lead to improved outcomes for Londoners.  

Why - the challenges and opportunities for civil society

The Way Ahead was triggered by the shared desire to meet the needs of Londoners.  Increased inequality and continued reductions in public funding have placed considerable strain on civil society.  We believe that London needs a vibrant civil society to prosper; and that in order to achieve a strong and vibrant civil society, just as any other sector in London, civil society needs access to appropriate support, strong networks, and a ‘voice’ within the ongoing debate about London.  But organisations that provide support to civil society – helping them to develop, to share learning, to collaborate, to speak up on behalf of those they serve - have been hit particularly hard.  But with challenge comes opportunity.  An estimated 120,000 civil society organisations and over 3 million volunteers are already active in the capital. London has a Deputy Mayor with an explicit brief on community engagement, the prospect of further devolution to the region, and an appetite to be the foremost global city for philanthropy.  The cross-sector Way Ahead vision is about joining up these resources for the benefit of Londoners.

What - the Way Ahead vision                                                   

The Way Ahead proposes a system that puts London’s communities at the heart of the way we all work.  The vision starts with co-producing an understanding of need and how to tackle it with communities, through to better sharing of intelligence and data across sectors, to making sure that community voices are heard in decision-making at a strategic level.  To ensure that civil society not only survive but thrives, we need to reimagine the ways in which support organisations and those that fund them work together, for it is only by drawing on the knowledge and resources of all that we can truly harness the potential of London’s civil society for all in our communities. 

Who – the stakeholders

The Way Ahead sets out challenges for the way that we all work: for frontline and grassroots organisations and volunteers, for local, specialist and regional support providers, for Local Authorities and other public sector bodies, for London Councils and the GLA, for funders, and for businesses.  These stakeholders have been involved in the development of the Way Ahead and are working together to establish a new system.

How - what we want to achieve and how we will get there

In Spring 2018, the key elements of the new system will be in place: a new Hub for London will maximise the opportunities for and impact of civil society, a new community engagement team at the GLA will take co-production, intelligence sharing and opportunities for regional voice to new levels, a commitment by local authorities to principles for commissioning civil society support will shape local environments, and a new fund will invest in collaborations that will test the new system.  A commitment to engaging those who are most excluded will underpin all of the above.

Delivering the Way Ahead requires both structural and behavioural change in all of our sectors. But the prize is significant – a London in which ALL Londoners can thrive, feel they have a voice in the decisions that are made about the kind of city we live in, in which all of us are seen as assets with ideas and resources to bring that can help make our city a better place to be, and in which the energy, knowledge and passion of those who choose to work together for change is amplified and valued for the difference it makes.