The next generation of “charity”

6 February 2017

I was a guest of David Duke on Friday to a presentation about the Change Centre – an incredible vision and discipline for bringing about change for people who need a home and have lost a lot in their lives.

Gt3Mel Young the great international social entrepreneur was there and the lineage of the Big Issue, Homeless World Cup and Street Soccer was evident in the Change Centre’s ethos and commitment.

I don’t want to focus on the project side-the wonderful plans and approaches that are being tested and applied to great effect. Instead, what struck me deeply was the values of placing the homeless person at the centre of their universe, of “punching above their weight”, and community building. Here before me was the next generation of charity leadership, energy, imagination, honesty and trust. If the work doesn’t fit in the shoes of those they serve then it’s discarded.

For example, a major grant was returned following the grant makers demands that didn’t sit well with the direction of the Change Centre’s work. More than that, I witnessed a spirit of sharing. In Glasgow we were in a “pop up” facility donated by a corporate, with the cross sector support and commitment (including mine around the volunteering side) all in evidence.

Gt1There were no posters of helpless homeless people appealing to the heart strings. Instead there were the words of these very same folk written up on the wall- about their unique journeys, hopes, and needs in bringing about change. David, Norman , Nicole and the Change Centre team are simply grounded in their connection with their people, and rooted in the direct and shared experience of the groups they are working with. They build structures that enable people to change and have experiences and stories that bring out the best in themselves. A virtuous circle of self- recognition and community recognition of recovered lives reputation and worth.

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The leadership is irrepressible, because it’s not based on the organisation. It’s based on the needs and relationships with the people engaged. It’s also hardnosed and dedicated to finding what works and what doesn’t and forgive the pun-keeping their eye on the ball. This focus keeps things simple, clear and effective. I believe that the pioneering approaches in addressing complex needs of individuals in such a powerful and effective way is also pioneering a way forward for how organisations need to  works with others on an entirely shared agenda, including for  growth in volunteering and well being.

Volunteering is at the heart of the Change Centre’s work and I’ll certainly be helping in any way I can and that includes the changes at Volunteer Scotland for shared  governance and shared work to achieve public and social value.