In December last year, Civil Society Futures, an independent inquiry looking at how English civil society can flourish published its findings and conclusions. It argued that civil society needs to change to be fit for the future. The inquiry sets out the changes it advocates using the acronym PACT:
Power: power needs to be shifted so that everyone is involved in decision-making;
Accountability: organisations must be more accountable to communities they serve;
Connection: civil society must build broader and deeper connections within and between communities;
Trust: organisations need to put effort into building and earning trust and ensure they are behaving in line with their values.
The Inquiry challenges leaders and others in civil society to re-examine and renew our behaviours, attitudes and practices. It calls for change to be achieved by individual and collective leadership, and through the ways we organise and work together.
These are key elements for Boards, and so for Chairs. This panel event and discussion are designed to create space for Chairs and Vice Chairs to share thinking on these ideas and to consider what actions we wish to take individually and collectively.
We have convened a panel to help us think through the issues and open up the debate.
Ruth Ibegbuna is Director at theRoots Programmea radical new initiative that believes society benefits if we bring together people with hugely different lives in an authentic and meaningful way to foster mutual understanding of our differences and our similarities. Ruth is also Founder of RECLAIM, a successful youth leadership organisation focused on working class young people. She was listed in The Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK, in The Debrett’s 500 in 2016. She was also listed by Virgin and Ashoka as one of the top six female change makers internationally.
Steve Wyler OBE served on the Civil Society Futures panel. He is an independent consultant with 30 years experience in the field of social change, and a former Chief Executive of Locality and before that the Development Trusts Association. He is co-founder of A Better Way, a national network of social change activists seeking to improve services and build strong communities. He has just stepped down as Chair of Community Links, a Newham-based charity which acts locally and campaigns nationally to tackle poverty and build ‘ready for everything communities’.
Helen Baker is Chair of Shelter and as an AoC trustee facilitated two conversations as part of the Civil Society Futures inquiry. She has held board level executive and non-executive roles in the voluntary and public sectors for over 35 years. Her work has spanned health and social care, housing and education and has included chairing NHS trusts and both local and national charities. She has been on the boards of three central government arms-length bodies. She is a former Chair of Dimensions UK and Charityworks, the national graduate programme for the non-profit sector which she also co-founded.
Beryl Hobson has worked at Board level in three sectors, and as a CEO, Trustee and Chair in the third sector. She has a particular interest in how Boards work, and how the performance of the Board can affect the impact of their organisation. In her former role as Head of the Large Charities Division at the Charity Commission, Beryl worked with the Boards of many high profile charities to improve governance. Until late 2015, Beryl was Chair of the NCT, the UK’s largest parenting charity and is a former Vice-Chair of Womankind Worldwide.
Panel Chair: Danny Curtin is an AoC trustee and works across the charity sector, in particular in faith based organisations, in the field of learning disabilities and in youth work. He was the founding Chair of the charity Million Minutes, a youth advocacy and fundraising charity, and served for five years as national President (effectively CEO) of the YCW, a Catholic-inspired youth charity.