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Event Reflection: What does it take to bring about change in a place?

This was the single question we asked ourselves and the exciting range of social innovators and Footwork friends that joined us for our ‘housewarming with a spin!’ Footwork’s first event (of many) at our new home in Clerkenwell.

We invited five brave souls to inspire further conversation, to take the floor and describe in two minutes the single most important thing to provoke change. They ranged from young activists to CEOs of huge social organisations, the thing that ties them all together is their passion for change.

“When you want to make change in a community you need to meet others in that area who are equally as passionate and find out what they are already doing, then together you can start to co-develop ideas for what that change might be. (...) It’s only after you have all of that information is it then you decide what to do.” - William Nicholson, The Health Foundry

“For my community and a lot of minorities in practice, (change is about) reconnecting to an identity that we have had to lose to fit in, it’s about celebrating and championing it and pushing ourselves to the front because our voices need to be heard” - Heba Tabidi, Space Black

“Change happens when people feel responsible and accountable for the place they are inhabiting” - Arthur Perez, The Village

“The power of when change really happens is when you don’t have the silos between top-down and bottom-up working separately, but you have that convener to be able to bring them together” - Gina Cicerone, Fair Education Alliance

“When we start looking at things through a different set of values, we can start to imagine how a different world is possible” - Gracie Chick, iWill Ambassador

The variety of these responses is striking – there’s no single formula – but what they had in common was a single-mindedness, clarity, passion and - frankly - optimism as to what can be achieved. Some of the ingredients? Enlisting like-minded partners, collaboration, advocacy, being clear about what you’re trying to do and bringing others with you.

“The speeches were fantastic, and the attendees top-notch. It gave a real flavour for the Footwork community” - Gina

How appropriate it then felt to explain about our People and Place Fund, which supports local social innovators with bold ideas to change things for the better in their communities. Footwork values partners such as those in the room to spread the word on the ground.

Energised by our five fantastic contributors, the room broke away to continue the conversation with an ‘unlikely ally’ and we came back together at the end to share interesting kernels of wisdom. For example; our friends at My Place had a fruitful conversation with Dame Julia Cleverdon about connecting the unconnected, Roland Karthaus provoked an interesting difference between innovation and entrepreneurship, and Living Lab participant Serina Gardner stressed the power of using local people to research their community.

“It was a wonderful event and I met so many interesting and inspirational people” - William Nicholson

We couldn’t agree more. Surely the best ideas for change don’t germinate in isolation but in settings like this where the energy and interaction between people of a like mind can spark creative inspiration.


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