Prime Minister David Cameron thanked all winners of the Big Society Awards at a reception at Number 10 Downing Street last night.
Hailing the contribution each an every one of them had made to their communities, the Prime Minister said:
I can’t think of a better group of people to have a reception with than the winners of the Big Society Awards because you’ve all done extraordinary things in your communities and it’s great to welcome you here.
The winners who attended last night’s event came from a diverse range of backgrounds. Among the winners were people who had taught elderly people how to use a computer, saved an open-air swimming pool for community use and made sure that children have a healthy breakfast before they start school.
In each case these ideas were conceived and delivered by people at a local level - an idea that is central to the Big Society.
If we think of all the problems in our world and in our communities, there’s no way that the government, even if it had all the money in the world, would be able to solve them because so often the best way of solving a problem is for people to come together and to work out the best way of improving their communities and improving their lives.
However, while the initiative must come from a local level, the government still has an important role to play.
Government doesn’t have a magic wand to do this but there are lots of things that we can do to help make it easier to give of your time or give of your money and give of your effort.
The Prime Minister said the Government plans to build and promote the Big Society in three different ways: devolving power to local authorities, neighbourhoods and community groups; opening up public services so that people who want to run services such as nurseries or schools can do so; and promoting volunteering and charitable giving and social action.
He concluded the reception by once again thanking the winners personally, and on behalf of the Government and the country as a whole.
Tonight is really about a celebration of what you’ve achieved and above all a very big thank you from me, from the government, from the country for the service that you’ve given to your community. You’re not just volunteers and brilliant people who give of service; you’re also incredibly entrepreneurial, incredibly inventive. The things that you do are things that the state and the government and the local government failed to do. You thought of a brilliant way of doing something to help others and for that I’m very grateful. Enjoy, thank you, you’re marvellous. Thank you very much indeed.
Read the Prime Minister’s speech in full.