The Big Help Out

The Big Help Out

Details have been announced this week of events taking place to celebrate the coronation of King Charles in May. As with the celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee in 2022, there is an emphasis on community, and – in tribute to the king’s lifetime of public service – a particular focus on volunteering. Vibrant communities are precious and need to be safeguarded and nurtured, not taken for granted until they disappear amid howls of regret and remorse. Life-Based Learning emphasises the importance of community. It also promotes agency and empowerment. Volunteering – and helping others more generally – brings many benefits: it is rewarding in itself, improves wellbeing, teaches us new skills, makes us more outward-looking and helps bring people and communities together.

The Coronation Big Lunch will take place on Sunday 7 May, the day after the coronation service at Westminster Abbey. “From a cup of tea with a neighbour to a street party, a Coronation Big Lunch brings the celebrations to your neighbourhood and is a great way to get to know your community a little better.”

Monday 8 May is a bank holiday. Members of the public are invited to take part in The Big Help Out. The aim is to encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being undertaken to support their local areas – “to bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy from the coronation weekend.”

The Big Help Out is being organised by the Together Coalition and other partners. It “will highlight the positive impact volunteering has on communities across the nation”. Hundreds of activities are planned for the day by local community groups, organisations and charities including the Scouts, Royal Voluntary Service, National Trust and RNLI. Further details and ways to take part are due to be announced in the coming weeks.

The Big Help Out is going to be a festival of volunteering. A day when people up and down the country will roll up their sleeves and do their bit. In the run up to the day we’ll also be launching new ways of getting involved in volunteering in your community. The aim is to create a legacy of better-connected communities long beyond the coronation itself.

Jon Knight, chief executive of the Together coalition

According to its website, the Together coalition – which styles itself /together – is “one of the most powerful and diverse coalitions ever assembled in the UK … It is open to everyone who believes we have more in common than that which divides us.”

Its aims are:

  • building and popularising a positive narrative about commonality and togetherness that replaces one of hate and division
  • increasing meaningful social contact through participation in activities that bring people together, especially across divides
  • securing the policy changes from government and key institutions needed to increase social connection and heal divides
  • building and strengthening a wider movement committed to connecting communities and bridging divides, encouraging network effects

In 2022 the Together coalition organised the Thank You Day campaign, which was part of the platinum jubilee celebrations for the late Queen Elizabeth II. Something like 17 million people in the UK took an active part, according to Together: polling they carried out suggested that 4.7 million people helped organise a jubilee event, about 8.7 million attended a Thank You Day event and 3.3 million helped to organise one.

Life-Based Learning and the importance of community

The aims of the Together coalition listed above chime with those of LBL.

The long-term future of our communities depends to a large extent on today’s young people and on the generations that follow. That’s why community education matters. Any long-term strategy for building stronger communities must involve looking at what we are teaching children in school.

Life-Based Learning (LBL) would raise the profile of community by treating it as one of nine life-based themes delivered through subject content, and ensure that our children and young people have the knowledge, skills and values to contribute positively to community life.

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