In recent years the government has transferred large sections of its social functions to quangos and charitable organisations. Many of these organisations are under-resourced and do not have the necessary professional skills to properly carry out their missions. Yet they are often responsible for the delivery of some of the most important social support, which fundamentally affects our society and quality of life. This includes local voluntary and community organisations providing facilities for the young. the old and the vulnerable. These bodies need access to professional
advice without fear of the inevitably high fee charges for such services. This need has been recognised by ProHelp, the pro bono campaign of Business in the Community.
ProHelp is a national network of professional firms working collaboratively to provide free advice to local voluntary and community groups and consists of lawyers, accountants, surveyors, architects and other professionals.
As architects supporting ProHelp we have learnt many new skills, which we regard as essential for developing a proper understanding of modern society and the importance of its building needs. In particular we have been able to acquire a much wider range of skill-sets within the briefing process than is customary within our profession.
In turn, we have been able to help our clients understand how to plan for change, how to share their vision about their business within their organisation and how to communicate this to others. We have also been able to help them understand the importance of preparing a well-considered business plan and funding strategy, which in turn has enabled them to obtain essential funding to realise their plans.
Architects also have considerable skills in bringing people with different knowledge-sets together and to work collaboratively.
We should remind ourselves of the importance of this enabling role in order to help society better understand how to plan for change.
Hans Haenlein www.haenlein.com