Who we are

Who we are
National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA)
August 2014


National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA) is an alliance of individuals and organisations who believe that we need to unite in independent voluntary and community action.


We meet four times a year as the NCIA assembly to share experiences, get ideas and guide our direction. The planning group provides co-ordination, and agrees and reports on the practical work we do. Our directors take decisions about money and keep us legal.


NCIA gets some money from funders who share our perspectives.  Andy Benson and Penny Waterhouse are our paid directors. We also pay people to carry out specific pieces of work.


Most of us are working on an unpaid basis, or are able to contribute through the organisations we work for. Our approach is based on trust and we expect that we will disagree with each other, as well as find consensus. Each person contributes what they can.


NCIA is not a government lobby group. We provide position papers and case studies when arguments need to be made but our main interest is to encourage, as practically as we can, community groups, voluntary sector organisations and support organisations to pursue independent voluntary action.


We have two linked campaign areas.


1.    Public services and privatisation We are speaking out on the effects of privatisation, cuts, ‘big society’ and localism. We are analysing the evidence and gathering people’s stories of local campaigning, negotiating with commissioners and ways of funding independent action, and promoting democratic and appropriate management styles for voluntary action.


2.    Supporting activism We want to support people and groups who are working for social justice and find people who will speak out against practices that threaten independent action.


Our current activities include …….


The NCIA Inquiry into local activism and dissent – Here We stand – has now been published. You can read the summary and full reports here. See what the guardian makes of our findings here. Join our ActiVCSts facebook group and do our quiz, to find out what sort of dissenter you are. And get talking here on NatCAN on the action that’s needed.


We want to be part of building alliances by talking and acting together, to build more with less. We are searching for people active in creating alternative ways to live together; as well as people active on resisting the cuts and austerity agendas. As part of this, we support the Agreement of the People.


We are looking into setting up Localism Watch, to record the impact of the Localism Act and for activists to share their responses.


We will launch the NCIA Inquiry on voluntary services: Can they survive? And in what form? Come join the discussions at the launch on May 10th 2013. Look here for details. And if you can’t join us at the launch, then contribute to the Inquiry through the discussion forum here.


We’re organising a meeting with interested CVSs (local umbrella groups for voluntary and community groups) to consider the radical role of CVSs in a period of cuts and austerity, especially since the findings of Here We Stand was critical of their political silence. Time to take a stand? If you’re a CVS and want to join in, contact penny@independentaction.net or contribute to the discussion here.


We’re campaigning to expose the muting of the new NHS patients’ watchdog HealthWatch


We continue to offer a place for others to express their views on social justice and voluntary action. The latest is a viewpoint on volunteering. Tell us what you think and what you’re doing in this neck of the woods …


And as part of our Inquiry into voluntary services, we’re still banging on about their role in privatising public services. We’re trying to protect the funding of local voluntary services which are embedded in their communities. We’re gathering evidence for a critical position paper on social enterprise, as a Trojan horse for privatisation; an expose of commissioning as the vehicle for privatisation; and the smelly nature of the private sector in public services. These papers will be available shortly.