Civic movement

The civic movement is based on a network of hundreds of local voluntary civic and amenity societies in the warp and weft of communities across England. It is one of the largest social movements in the country. The first civic society was set up in the 1840s.

Civic societies provide a focus for voluntary and community action to improve the places where people live, work and relax. They champion the importance of these places to decision makers and opinion formers in business, politics, government, the media, the voluntary sector and elsewhere. They play an essential and voluntary role in helping individuals and communities to understand and take action to improve the quality of their life through the place where they live. Civic societies promote and celebrate the best of what is inherited from the past and what is developed for the future. They are a fundamental source of civic pride. This work brings benefits to the whole community and not just to those who are members of civic societies.

Civic societies can be provocative, stubborn, forceful, inspiring and outspoken on behalf of the places they care about. They are fiercely independent and grassroots organisations, often providing the grit in the oyster which stimulates people to think, reconsider and widen their horizons. They will celebrate and encourage positive action and be forthright in resisting damaging change. They are also a store of knowledge and expertise about local places which is an essential starting point in recognising and strengthening their identity. This is often reflected in blue plaque schemes run by civic societies or the development of town trails or management of local archives. Civic societies are the country’s most numerous participants in the land use planning system and civic society volunteers frequently act as trusted intermediaries between local government and local people in planning, transport and other decision making. Many civic societies campaign for better management of local assets (buildings and open space) and find solutions to their long term management.

The civic movement’s full potential to help the nation discover and listen to its communities and its roots remains untapped. This is at a time of renewed political interest in localism and the benefits from empowering communities. The civic movement is also central to supporting and developing the sense of identity and belonging that comes from positive feelings about the place where people live.

Find your nearest civic society by clicking here and using the map