As we launch our work in progress findings from the first year of Civil Society Futures, our panel reflect on the first year of the inquiry.
Julia Unwin, Civil Society Futures chair and former Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation:
“When I launched the inquiry I said I wanted us to be both humble and bold. I am humbled by the evidence we have gathered, the breadth of experience reflected and the sheer appetite in civil society for a new and different way of doing things.
We need to be bold in addressing this desire for change, and recognising that a positive future for civil society will require courage, and the willingness to change. What is clear from all those engaged is that there is willingness and desire to make just that change. In our second year we need to work with civil society to identify what needs to happen next.”
Asif Afridi from brap, a national equality and human rights charity:
“I’ve been amazed by the sheer numbers and range of people that have contributed to the inquiry. Clearly civil society is something that people want to talk about and it is central to their lives.
The people working on the inquiry have also recognised that some voices still haven’t been heard however. Us not hearing these voices reflects broader patterns of power and inequality within civil society. In the second year of the the inquiry, we are keen to address this by talking to these people.
But more than this, the inquiry is keen to test new ways of addressing inequality and new ways of building relationships to help civil society be more reflective and protective of our diverse humanity.”
Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS:
“I have been pleasantly surprised and increasingly excited about how wide we are casting our gaze. I had first expected that much of our time would be spent looking at ways of improving the operating environment for charities.
Instead, almost all of the conversations we have had within the inquiry team and with others have led us to ask broader questions around the way that citizens are organising and mobilising, and how we can help build people’s power in the 21st century.”
Carolyn Wilkins, Chief Executive of Oldham Council:
“This year has been a fascinating opportunity to be engaged in rich, energetic (and sometimes frustrating) debates, hearing from so many different perspectives and spending time in different spaces.
It’s reinforcing some ideas I held about the common nature of some of the challenges we’re all wrestling with, but is also sparking so many ideas about a whole range of things like boundaries, roles, voice and contribution. “
Steve Wyler, independent consultant and former Chief Executive of Locality:
“As the inquiry has unfolded I have been both appalled and exhilarated. Appalled that those at the front end of civil society, struggling to cope with the rising tide of social need and injustice and inequality, are still so often treated so badly by powerful institutions. I am equally appalled that some civil society organisations are still putting their own self-interest first and the common good second.
But I am exhilarated to discover a vigorous and widespread appetite for positive change, for a seismic shift in ownership and control in favour of people and communities, including those who have most been ‘done to’ and left behind and left out.”
What do you think? Share your view in the comments below or on social media #civilsocietyfutures