Stories of hope

Stories of hope

Across civil society lots of people, organisations and groups are already living out great examples of change and hope, that we can all learn from for the future.

Please explore below and get inspired.

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London Queer Muslims

18th November 2018

As well as trying to build the power of queer Muslims in London, the group seeks to embody its ideals of inclusion in its own internal practices, developing and sharing power among their members – often based on ancient Islamic traditions.

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“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.

Step free route

How we’re building a greater scope for greater impact

16th November 2018

Earlier this year, leading disability charity Scope announced a radical new strategy that would mean enormous change for the organisation. Here the charity’s chief executive talks through the plans for this transformation: how they got here, where they’re going, how they’ll do it, and why it matters. 

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Changing our organisation… and shifting power

16th November 2018

Civil society funder Lankelly Chase is in “a continual process” of change, trying to be aware of power in their organisation and shift it down from Board level. How are they handling it?

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.

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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.

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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.

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Knife crime: do we have the power to cut it down?

10th November 2018

Local people came together to tackle rising levels of youth violence in Peckham – how did they do it? And what happened when young people themselves were excluded from the process?

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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.

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Is the third sector sexist?

8th November 2018

Allegations of sexual misconduct at Oxfam, Save the Children and the Presidents Club have dominated headlines this year. Is civil society doing enough to address sexism in the workplace?

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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?

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From litter to better

1st November 2018

“Am I going to let the world go to rack and ruin or am I going to change things around me?” What is this residents association in Sunderland doing?

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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?

Unlocking funders’ treasure chests of data

30th October 2018

Is there a way to bring funding information together so that anyone could quickly see what’s being funded in a particular community or sector? In an ideal world, all grants data would be shared openly.

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From murky to making it happen: getting local power in the North East

17th October 2018

How to get to the world as it should be?  That was the question we vowed to tackle as we kicked off the third of three Civil Society Futures workshops on local decision making in the North East.

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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.

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Do we reward disobedience?

6th August 2018

This award gives quarter of a million dollars, no strings attached, to people being extraordinarily disobedient for the benefit of society. What could we learn?

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(How) can funders really challenge power?

6th August 2018

Funding… too often tightly controlled by a cautious, privileged few? Edge Fund is a grant-making body with a difference.

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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.

What do we want?! Erm…

25th July 2018

One of the key principles within community organising is moving from problem to solution. Working out our asks is a fundamental step to negotiating and bringing about change.

Delivering justice in a Deliveroo world

18th July 2018

Our case is the biggest in employment law in a generation, fighting for basic rights like paid annual leave and the minimum wage.

The migrant-led activism stamping out racial hostility in the UK

20th June 2018

The Windrush scandal has pushed Britain’s harsh immigration policies into the limelight, forcing one ministerial resignation and an apology from the government. But people who have lived and worked hard in Britain for many years are still losing their jobs, homes, being denied NHS treatment – who are the people fighting for the rights of … Read more

Fairwork Foundation

11th June 2018

We are starting a ‘Fairwork Foundation’ to set minimum standards in the gig economy. Can we change the rules of the future?

Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, Spain

Can we democratise industry?

11th June 2018

The Mondragon Cooperative Corporation is an example of a federation democratising industry – is this the way forward for the future of work?


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.

Young people in Parliament

UpRising leadership programmes shifting power

2nd May 2018

UpRising was founded in 2008 to work with talented young people from diverse backgrounds and support them to progress in their chosen fields. We tackle the lack of representation at the highest leadership levels of society.

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…

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Building a community for activism

5th April 2018

Civil society, like the society it serves, is ever changing. If we are to harness the transformative energy of young people and communities, structures and funding will need to change to keep pace. People are eager to work together for the common good, we just need the government and funders to loosen the chains and … Read more

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?

From soldiers to students, chapels to cinemas: lessons from England’s first capital

13th November 2017

“When I first started drinking here, the bottom half of town was out of bounds. That’s where the squaddie bars were.” My new friend pointed out the regimental cap-badges lined up behind the spirit bottles in the nearly empty pub. These days, those knocking back shots are not soldiers, but students. And Winchester’s undergraduates, it … Read more

‘Crowd journalism’ is proving good for our health – and more besides

8th November 2017

A growing appetite for crowd sourcing solutions to societal challenges online – reflected in the success of news sites such as Positive News, The New Internationalist and Mental Health Today – offers hope for the futures of both civil society and journalism. I co-edit Mental Health Today and we regularly see our “crowd” of 70,000 … Read more

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

“You can’t take the politics out of the struggle”: Four lessons from African feminist organising

20th August 2017

African feminist movements are diverse. But we can, and must, learn from decades of transformational organising on the continent.  As African feminists, we face multiple systems of oppression including the effects of colonisation, neocolonisation, white supremacy, militarism, the globalisation of capitalism and neoliberalism. Yet our movements are more vibrant and radically political than ever before. … Read more

Use the anger of leaderless youth to transform society: the case of Belfast Pride

18th August 2017

On the first Saturday of August, nearly a month after the near-inevitable controversy of Belfast’s Eleventh Night bonfires and Twelfth parades, over 5000 people marched in the city’s annual Pride Parade, a protest which is a response to Northern Ireland’s present and future, rather than its sectarian past. Why, in NI, where the largest party … Read more

On brass bands and Brexit; culture and cuts: the case of Shirebrook

15th August 2017

  Shirebrook is the kind the of place where everyone greets you in the street and the brass band plays in the park on a Saturday, teenagers preen in the town square for want of other places to flirt, and the library is bustling with people taking advantage of free internet – perhaps because they … Read more

Podcast: Josie Long’s guide to setting up your own charity

3rd July 2017

In 2011, the comedian and broadcaster Josie Long was worried that austerity would exclude working class young people from the arts. And so, with a friend, she founded the group Arts Emergency. After loads of boring meetings, it’s now a thriving charity with a cornucopia of projects, helping creative young people across the country. Civil … Read more

Now is the time to join a tenants’ union

16th June 2017

British housing is a dangerous mess. But people are organising to protect themselves – like they always have. In 1915 in Govan, just south of the river Clyde in Glasgow, bands of women torpedoed flour bombs at creeping eviction enforcers from the towering windows of their tenements. Exasperated by increasingly predacious landlords and the rising … 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

Finding a home: a conversation about community, live-art and Birmingham

5th May 2017

We talk to the founders of Home for Waifs and Strays, a Birmingham initiative that seeks to foster a community and home for live-artists in the city.  How did Home for Waifs and Strays begin? Kate Spence: In a nutshell, Aleks rang me one night. Aleks Wojtulewicz: At 2 in the morning – like all the best … Read more

24th April 2018