The Mutual Appreciation Society

Whatever you make of the new coalition government’s plans for the Big Society, one thing remains beyond doubt: in the face of sweeping cuts in public spending, there is a real and urgent need to change the way in which we work together to bring about positive change.

The new emphasis on communities assuming more accountability and working ever more closely with the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors is important because, for many years, these have been sections of the economy that have made substantial contributions to the social prosperity and economic wellbeing of our region.

If new government initiatives encourage greater interaction between private and not-for-profit/voluntary organisations then this must surely be welcomed but we must also be realistic about what can be achieved without meaningful investment on the part of the public sector.

Establishing key strategic and operational partnerships will be vital in the months and years ahead.

There is certainly great untapped potential in the not-for-profit/voluntary sectors and it is only by engaging with such organisations that public bodies and businesses will come to appreciate their skills and recognise their value as potential partners.

With greater understanding and collaboration will come new opportunities and, in time perhaps, new structures for delivering sustainable and cost-effective services.

It is very unlikely that such relationships will thrive in a total vacuum of public funding but, given a modicum of support, collaborative projects between private, public and third sector bodies could become one of the principal drivers of new growth in the North West economy.

If we are to change the way that we work together, then we will need to learn and appreciate one another’s strengths. At Enterprise4All, we are already beginning to do this by diversifying into new areas of enterprise support.

For example, we are now working alongside the Manufacturing Advisory Service to raise the profile of assistance extended to our manufacturing base, and we are delivering other programmes to help the care sector, new start-up businesses and the hugely promising food and drink industry.

We are also contributing to business support on a global level by working alongside the international development company, Enterprise in Action. These and other sectors have considerable growth potential and, with the help of public, private and not-for-profit/voluntary sector partners, we will be doing all we can to nurture the future collaborative environment.

Ilyas Munshi
Enterprise 4 All