Corra Foundation’s Change Convention

On 28th March 2019, we attended Corra Foundation’s Change Convention at Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh, which over 300 people attended and it was so great that we decided to write all about it! The day was focussed on exploring how to create positive change in uncertain times. This is fundamental to our work in the Democratic Society as we want to better understand and learn from others how social change happens and how we can help support challenge, change, and create new ways of doing things to develop societies that are just, democratic, and empowered to make their own positive changes.

10 things we learned from Corra Foundation’s Change Convention

1.) In order to change media stereotyping of areas that are depicted as deprived and run-down, we need to change our consumerism habits (what we read/watch/buy into) to tell stories that are balanced around both the good and bad of towns, therefore not sensationalising and buying into bad stories. This will ensure an experience of greater equality and benefit citizens to feel more empowered about where they live.

2.) Creative arts and theatre are a great way to integrate migrants into communities and to express living experiences of moving into a new country.

3.) “Shouldn’t people who have risked everything including their lives and their children’s lives to move country gain the right to work and immerse in a new area?” It’s important to listen to others and treat everyone with respect and equality.

4.) “Evil happens when good people do nothing” We have a human moral responsibility to not let the system fail people.

5.) “Do we have our priorities right?” There isn’t enough compassion and funding for groups that support migrants and isolated individuals. Should we change to a 4 day working week so that 1 day could be allocated to volunteering to support kindness in communities, dignity, and helping others?

6.) A fundraising issue. “Where is the trust?” In order to keep sustainable projects going, charities and organisations have to keep re-applying for funding every year or so. When asking for 10 years worth of funding the answer is usually no way. It’s therefore difficult for companies to get into the swing of their great projects and the potential for positive change because of the concern with funding. We need to work out a way to transcend boundaries between working organisations, councils, communities, and volunteers, by joining resources this will make people’s lives better and develop a more sustainable society.

7.) Sheila McKechnie Foundation Workshop. The social change project. “In whose hands is the power really in?” Governments don’t drive change- it starts with civil society. There is growing evidence in how civil society can ‘play big’ and truly create change. More change is happening through individuals and civil society because of the development of technology, access to online media and the ability to communicate widely. There are lots of examples of this as well; the campaign for the living wage to be changed, plastic ban/reduction, me-too movement, and many more.

8.) Sheila McKechnie Foundation Workshop. The social change project’s 12 steps for social change:

1.) Mission first, not model nor money. Everyone campaigns when they have to (example- saving a child, crisis situations, etc) Perhaps organisations striving for change and charity organisations could and should engage more in public spheres to shift attitudes.

2.) Looking at the bigger picture. In a complex system we shouldn’t be working alone but intervening in different ways. (Invitation to let go- everyone is required to pin down and be accountable for their own actions).

3.) Being adaptive and responsive (example-Grenfell fire).

4.) Persistence, perseverance and resilience- (how do we model longer term thinking?)

5.) In whose name? “Nothing about us, without us” how do you do thing with and not to?

6.) Primacy of relationships- transformational service, civil society can build relationships in a way institutions can’t.

7.) Understanding other people’s interests and motivations. (example, Abraham lincoln- “I don’t like that man. I just get to know him better”)

8.) Radical listening and an asset-based approach- people have value and agency. Power is much more dispersed.

9.) Collaborating rather than competing. (It’s not always about the money?!)

10.) Knowing our tools. How do we pursue change what are the other things we could do?

11.) Evaluating what matters and learning from it- reflection and things went wrong.. be honest and share.

12.) Take responsible risks and take a leap. (It might not work… but that’s ok)

9.) Maryhill Integration Network. “Do we know the difference between refugee and asylum seeker?” There are currently flaws within the system that mean asylum seekers do not have the right to work and can be waiting months before their applications are accepted and thus causing many negative implications to their lives. Giving people the right to volunteer in communities will give individuals a sense of belonging, reduce the sense of isolation, build local language knowledge skills and work skills for employability.

10.) Ruth Ibegbuna- founder of Reclaim and the Roots programme. Don’t be scared to be disruptive. Disruption is key for change.

Many thanks to the challenge speakers, panelists, workshop hosts, event illustrator and event coordinators who put on this event, you can find out more here: