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Amplifying Community Voices - Charity Chat Podcast

“…the purpose of design in its broadest sense is actually to work with people to understand what is needed, and communities hold all of this wonderful knowledge, to work with… people collaboratively to create these buildings that are required.” - Clare Richards

In this episode we speak with Clare Richards and Naomi Rubbra about their work at the charity Footwork and how their backgrounds as architects have led them to co-found this charity to support building communities and community cohesion. We learn more about the current process for planning and development and how bringing the voices of the local community can help to influence this for the benefit of those living there. We also touch on themes that are relevant to all of us in our daily lives such as our environment and our own place in our local community.

Space to succeed

When we think about the spaces we live and work in and are drawn to, what appeals to us and what helps us to be the best versions of ourselves?

In our daily work, whether that’s at home or in an office setting, how does it lend itself to working collaboratively, focussing on deep work when we need to, and keeping us motivated and enthusiastic.

It’s worth thinking about where we are most comfortable but also where we get our ideas and how our environment can support us in these ways. Whether that’s a clear or inspiring workspace, the music we play or the colleagues we speak with. What does a healthy work environment look like to us.

Local social innovators

Naomi spoke passionately about bringing social innovators forward into the minds of decision makers and the existing planning and development processes. Social innovators who are mindful of the needs of their community and come from that community, to help shape the agenda to develop in line with these needs.

We all live and work within processes and procedures and often thrive in the muscle memory of our organisations that help to ensure efficiency and that we are as productive as possible. Speaking with Clare and Naomi it occurred to me that we also need to carve out some time and energy to bring our own innovation to our organisations. We also need to be every mindful of seeking out new ideas and input from those who see and are affected by the outcomes of our work, to help drive change and development to do more good.

Reconnecting with our community

We need each other, increasingly, in a world under multiple stresses and a seeming growing division and anger across our society.

Though it may feel impossible to make substantial change, it is in our daily lives and daily actions that we have the most consistent power to influence those around us. Whether we work in big cities or small rural communities, we are all part of a community, be it sparse or dense. In our work, many of us are part of even wider communities, and how we choose to interact with others has a drip drip effect on the wider whole. We all have power to do good and harm on a daily basis and it is with this power that must learn to exercise discipline and be mindful of its impact.

For those of us who think often about the larger issues in our society, our small decisions may seem inconsequential, and sometimes this can lead to a sense of malaise or despondency. But in the Clare’s words, what can we do to turn the tanker? Positive moves, no matter how small will make a difference, maybe not now but at some point in the future.

By Samuel Davies, Charity Chat


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