Our shared PACT: Connection

Our shared PACT

Connection: Building deeper, closer connections

“I hope we are brave enough to change, live and connect differently” Bradford youth workshop

“It’s about building up relationships. All of it is about building up relationships.” Epsom & Ewell community workshop

Connections are vital.  To bring together people with shared experiences – and those with different experiences.  To make sure those with power listen to those who feel they have little. To identify the change that’s needed and how we work together for that change. To build deep human connections between those with power and those who feel they lack it, and between people who feel powerless to ensure that their voice is heard. To recognise and value the power we do have whether as members of communities, or as leaders of organisations.

Building deep connections is civil society’s historic role, and it has never been more needed.  Our society is divided between urban and rural, between north and south, between young and old. It is still deeply divided on racial and class lines.  Civil society has an essential role to connect powerfully across these damaging divides and drive lasting social change. But too often we have lost our ability to build connections, because the world is changing fast or we have become too remote from the people and communities we are here for.  

The implications are enormous when connections are not made. Society can only understand what is really going on by listening very hard to the voices of people who know. Communities were concerned about abuse of young girls in some northern towns, the citizens of the Windrush generation were being advised by civil society organisations, but civall were ignored.  People in Whitehall and many institutions in London were surprised when so many places voted for Brexit, but people working and living in those communities already knew.

We will extend and renew our ability to connect people.  

We will all build real and meaningful relationships between people, meeting as equals within and across communities – especially where it’s hard to do.  

We will bridge divides across race, gender, generations, social class and more – learning from the past, experimenting with new approaches and listening deeply to different people.

Our infrastructure for connecting groups and organisations is outdated, under-resourced and falling apart and there are too few connective networks to join up civil society locally or nationally.

Together we will create and invest in better ways to connect and collaborate that are fit for the 21st century, combining welcoming and energising physical spaces, with online forums which encourage us to share and to discover – a national people-power grid energising and universalising social action across communities and across our country.

The future could include…

Long-established spaces change and develop such as Visit My Mosque, Toynbee Hall and 20’s Plenty for Us

New types of spaces opened up like Living Rooms and Fab Labs…  

Success measured on the depth and quality of our connections, not the number of ‘impacts’…  

Investment in hyper local community-owned media like Bristol Cable…  

People and organisations with radically different perspectives make a point of working together, using their different perspectives productively to create change….  

Peer support available for people pioneering challenging new approaches…

Explore 92 ways to put the PACT into practice »

Full worksheet: how to put the PACT into practice »

Stories of deeper, closer connections:

Hand raised silhouetted against a sky

92 ways to put the PACT into practice

17th December 2018

Did you see the Civil Society Futures PACT and wonder “what can I do now?” Here are some suggestions for things you could do or ask your organisation.

Polish Centre Shrewsbury

Promoting understanding… but uncertainty about the country we call ‘home’

17th December 2018

In all we do at the Polish Centre Shrewsbury, we believe that understanding our neighbours is a key to build better communities. But now with shadow of Brexit there is uncertainty about our own future in country which we called ‘home’.

Featured Video Play Icon

The Food Journey

20th November 2018

At our final launch event, performers took people on a journey through their food history – exploring issues of power, accountability, connection and trust through different senses.

Featured Video Play Icon

“We are here”: art to bring the PACT to life

18th November 2018

Artist Rebecca Strickson has created a response to the civil society PACT through four beautiful banners that bring it, and people’s voices, to life.

The Way Ahead: together for London

16th November 2018

The Way Ahead is a joint initiative by civil society organisations, independent funders, and public sector, triggered by the shared desire to meet the needs of Londoners.   Increased inequality and continued reductions in public funding have placed considerable strain on Londoners and the organisations that support them.  We believe that London needs a vibrant … Read more

Think people can’t have control over their neighbourhoods? Meet Community Land Trusts

14th November 2018

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) ensure local people can continue living in their communities and enable them to play a leading role in shaping the places they call home.

Featured Video Play Icon

Equal Care Co-op: using technology to redirect power in front-line social care

14th November 2018

The Equal Care Co-op is a new care and support co-operative starting in the Upper Calder Valley, aiming to give real voice and power to the people who give and receive support.

Featured Video Play Icon

Befriending in Mansfield – A new way to look at community

14th November 2018

Over the past four months, people from across the local community have been coming together to create a Befriending Service for Mansfield.

Featured Video Play Icon

Saving a library… it’s all about community

8th November 2018

This library in Sunderland was slated for closure… till volunteers like this stepped in.

Featured Video Play Icon

Alone but not alone

4th November 2018

Alone and a very, very long way from home – how is this local community group in South Shields welcoming refugees and asylum seekers?

Featured Video Play Icon

Good tech? Fairer funding?

30th October 2018

From 3D printing wheelchairs to getting out of London to meet new people with ideas… how is a funder of social tech projects trying to shift power and create connection?

Featured Video Play Icon

The future doesn’t work unless it includes us all. How do we get there?

17th October 2018

Some organisations shy away from fully acknowledging their lack of diversity. They pay lip service but are reluctant to even publish data about their cultural make up for fear of being criticised.

Featured Video Play Icon

Belfast is welcoming refugees with a radical new approach: speaking to them

11th October 2018

We’re having different conversations about immigration, race and community. They are successful, and fun, and they could change the world.

Access and civic activism

30th August 2018

One of the common civic actions is to take part in events and discussions. How often is it incumbent for the disabled participant to ensure that his/her/their participation is possible?

Civil society for fun

22nd August 2018

It is important that we manage to retain the balance between civil society in response to need, and civil society for fun: civil society is not only good for society, but also good for the people who take part.

Featured Video Play Icon

What we can all learn from the Bedouin (and Scots environmentalists)

30th July 2018

How do you tackle climate change in your backyard? How do you kickstart biodiversity in the deserts of Jordan? It turns out… it’s all about relationships.


CounterCoin… how we’re boosting community action and volunteering

23rd May 2018

In the Potteries (Stoke on Trent region) we are minting our own ceramic money! It’s a volunteer reward scheme that recognises and rewards community action and volunteering then campaigns for businesses to support this action.

Sea change? How can a big organisation connect to local communities

5th May 2018

Our website and helpline work well, reaching over 1.5 million people, and we have dipped our toe in with a couple of regional admin offices.  But we know that if we really want to enhance our face-to-face support and work more closely with older people we need to be embedded in their communities.

What’s Pointless about Epsom? Reclaiming heritage for a contemporary sense of place

1st May 2018

If you’ve seen the TV game show Pointless, you’ll know that – like in civil society – common assumptions are often a veneer. The most illuminating way to understand a community is to seek out the Pointless answers…

Inspiration and assault: is the future of social media in our control?

13th March 2018

We all know by now that social media’s impact on our lives can be pervasive and all-encompassing – and it’s not just our lifestyles, careers and relationships that are influenced by it.

Britain, meet Bolivia: what can social movements learn from each other?

7th February 2018

Bolivia has a deep history of resistance. After over 500 years of colonisation, it continues to be home to the largest and most diverse indigenous population in the continent, with 36 different indigenous peoples officially recorded. At the turn of the millennium movements successfully took on both a multinational corporation and a President – paving … Read more

Back to the future: how can we help people change the system?

7th February 2018

So many organisations are seeking to make a difference to people’s lives today. But how can we involve the communities we work with in shaping the policies and systems that will change their tomorrows too?

Funding the Cooperative City – lessons from across Europe

Funding the Cooperative City – lessons from across Europe

22nd January 2018

One of the constant themes we’ve heard during the first year of the inquiry is the need to create places and spaces for people to come together, create and meet others. What’s going on across Europe and what can we learn?

Using virtual reality to build solidarity across difference: the case of the Munduruku

19th September 2017

The only issue was that the tears made my glasses steam up. But otherwise, Munduruku: The Fight to Defend the Heart of the Amazon is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The multisensory virtual reality installation from Greenpeace, AlchemyVR and The Feelies takes you into the Amazon, where you are invited on a tour of … Read more

Building a user-generated museum: a conversation with Alistair Hudson

5th May 2017

Can the museum be reimagined as a place that actually works for its constituents, rather than for the art market? Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) director Alistair Hudson seeks to create a ‘useful museum’ that is the true manifestation of its community. What brought you to the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima)? I’ve … Read more

18th November 2018