Karen Chouhan 2013 Future Focus Keynote Speaker


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In May 2005, Karen was one of the seven 'visionaries' selected from 1600 applicants by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. With her ideas for a more just and peaceful world, Karen founded Equanomics UK.

Equanomics UK is an initiative to build a UK community led alliance that reshapes race related policy through an economic lens. Through Equanomics UK Karen organised two UK tours with the Reverend Jesse Jackson to highlight economic injustice.

In addition to her work with Equanomics UK, Karen runs her own consultancy with the premise: 'Equality for Your Business is My Business'. She also teaches Glen Parva Youth Offenders Institute, South Leicestershire College, and the Workers Educational Association.

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire was delighted to welcome Karen as a keynote speaker at our 2013 Future Focus Conference. The conference is now complete, but if you'd like to be a part of our 2014 conference, visit www.valonline.org.uk

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Karen Chouhan 2013 Future Focus Keynote Speaker

  1. 1. VCS Current challenges, strange climates and weatherproofing
  2. 2. Do you have branding straplines? True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice The time is always right to do what’s right. Your birth is not your destiny Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition
  3. 3. Narrative? Economic contribution yet vast economic inequality. Social contribution but social inequality. Cultural contribution (food, music, dance, drama). Sporting contribution (Olympics, football, boxing etc). Contribution to faith development. Contribution to community development.
  4. 4. Young people Rates of child poverty are particularly high among children of African (56%), Pakistani (60%) and Bangladeshi (72%) origin, compared with a rate of 25% for white children. (CRE 2007) Unemployment for young people has risen 8% since March 08 and 13% for BME young people (IPPR 2011) 20% + of young people now unemployed - 48% Black African Caribbean, 31% Asian (IPPR 2011)
  5. 5. Ageing Against a backdrop of austerity and an ageing society, voluntary action is often seen as one solution to the increasing demand on care services. Yes, if it moves from a narrow focus on ‘volunteering’ to looking at how community assets in their widest sense can be valued, developed and linked up. No, if it is seen simply as a free substitute for existing public services. Nearly 4.9 million people aged 65 and over in England (58 per cent of that age group) take part in volunteering or civic engagement, and most social care is already delivered through voluntary action. NCVO website
  6. 6. Poverty and welfare Stigmatising those they are about to hit with cuts is seen as an essential part of securing wider political legitimacy for changes in spending. Poverty remains entangled in false divisions between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ Around two-fifths of people from ethnic minorities live in low-income households, twice the rate for White people. 20% for White people. 30% for Indians and Black Caribbeans. 50% for Black Africans. 60% for Pakistanis. 70% for Bangladeshis Welfare, the dirtiest word in British politics? Chris Johnes, Oxfam http:/blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2013/08/15/welfare-chris-johnes/
  7. 7. Economy and jobs VCS –key role in helping people to become economically active For every £ invested – creating jobs, providing services and attracting social capital via volunteering - £2 is recirculated through the regional economy . Many charities have been excluded form the welfare to work programme and it has had other failings Well managed volunteer programmes also essential – but cuts have made this less possible NCVO website
  8. 8. Health is wealth?
  9. 9. Homelessness Housing for young people is unaffordable 39% of St Mungo’s clients were from BME communities housing benefit is paid to people on low income. BME communities are amongst those with the lowest incomes, often living in poor housing and with high unemployment rates. Bedroom tax will have a negative impact. We know that BME communities are more likely to become homeless.
  10. 10. Criminal Justice Stop and search Representation Custodial sentences Prevention of re-offending (each prison place costs £40,000) Policing
  11. 11. Political Context of VCS Big Society and localism - nebulous concept; appeals to left & right of spectrum English Localism Act 2011 Argues answers are local, community scale not with ‘big government’ Revival of ‘the local’ & policy interest in places/communities Local decision-making, asset-ownership, mobilisation of VCS etc Civil society as a ‘resource’ for the state in austere times Dr Kim McKee, Centre for Housing Research, University of St Andrews 25
  12. 12. Exacerbating Inequalities? As Cruikshank (1999) argues strategies of empowerment are still technologies of governance Localism may exacerbate social-spatial inequalities: Communities do not speak with one voice Nor are they all equally resourced nor empowered; nor operating at the same scale Perspective on power that presupposes freedom Some communities may be more able than others to articulate their needs and command resources: Issues such as skills, education, capacity, experience are all relevant here May disadvantage already low-income/deprived neighbourhoods 26
  13. 13. Mobilization of community not new (history matters) Policy discourses have differential impact in different places in different ways (geography important) Localism is no guarantee of community empowerment Devolution may exacerbate inequalities Poses threats as well as opportunities for the VCS Blurring boundaries between third and public sector; expected to fill the gap as the state retrenches with fewer resources Important to consider broader context of welfare reform Should not assume that all communities necessarily want to take control May not be a demand for community ownership for example, where already receiving good service Local and central government have statutory responsibilities 27
  14. 14. Activism or arm of the state? (NCIA) ‘De-coupling’ of voluntary agencies that provide services (often with state funding) to individuals and communities, from the rest – activists and community groups. Commissioning is increasingly marketised and professionalised: around access to finance, capacity, risk management, and having the right technical (contracting and financial) skills.
  15. 15. Where would you place yourself and activism? Individuals and service provision Groups and communities Systems and structures
  16. 16. Check Inward – branding, narrative, straplines, vision, aims, values, change strategies, organisation. Technologies for communication Outward – political context and your analysis and placement within that - service provision or activism? Issues
  17. 17. IMPACT Innovation Motivation Integrity Mavens Inspiration Issues Messages Messengers Media Passion People Principles Product Politics Action Aims Achievement Aspiration Analysis Creative Concepts Change theory Connectors Communication Technology Teamwork