From the alternative society to the Big Society? Voluntary organisations and drug services in Britain, 1960s–2010s
Mold, Alex (2012)


This article presents an overview of the changing nature of voluntary action in Britain from the 1960s to the present. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a dramatic upswing in voluntary activity. Many new groups were established, some with connections to the alternative society. By
the 1980s, the value of these organisations was apparent to those in the mainstream as well as those outside it, something that can be seen in increased government funding for voluntary groups working in the drugs field and more broadly. Indeed, during the 1990s and 2000s, voluntary organisations
became a key part of the mixed economy of provision in health and social care. Recent calls for the strengthening of the ‘Big Society’ point to an ever-more important role for voluntary organisations, but many questions can be raised about the impact that close relations between the state
and the voluntary sector has for both parties.


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