Beyond the borders between our communities
Its time to fight nativism. Let’s start with the borders between our communities.
Brexit, Trump, Renzi, Corbyn, the closure of Calais, Aleppo, and the end of Great British Bake Off; it sounds like a truism to say that 2016 was a ‘difficult’ year on both sides of the pond and on all sides of British politics.
As these developments play out, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that globally, we are living through the most prosperous time in the past decade. The world’s governments, businesses and civil society organisations have embarked on the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals – a list of 17 key outcomes on the path to global health, education, security and more. Meanwhile, a little closer to home: 73% of millennials remain optimistic about their business’ capacity to do good and as tech guru, Rohan Silva recently pointed out, we’re increasingly comfortable using new technologies to tackle age-old problems.
But the concerns shaping headlines on 2016 aren’t going away any time soon. As one Brexiteer from ‘Invoke Democracy Now!’ recently exclaimed, “Many who voted to leave the EU did so because they saw Brexit as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ‘take back control’”, and the gap between our communities looks starker than ever. Minority communities are scared with good reason and while right-wing political organisation isn’t necessarily on the rise, divisive sentiments have certainly been emboldened by a resurgence of nativism.
So what are we to do to build bridges, not walls? The answer might be more powerful and practical than you may expect. Rather than trying to shut down the divisions created by public debate, we must do more to break the echo chambers that separate London from Sunderland, minorities from the ‘white, British’ and Remain from Leave.
It’s time to hold out an olive branch, to really listen to each other’s concerns and to engage openly with one another without fear or prejudice. It’s time to find someone who has a different view and to understand what makes them tick.
One important way of doing this is volunteering: serving the needs of others. Luckily, since the London Olympics and the establishment of the National Citizen Service, personal action with social purpose is considered cooler than ever. Surveys by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) show a 52% increase in the number of volunteers between 2010 and 2015.
For members of BeyondMe, a movement of professionals who donate time, skills and money to good causes, this is a great indicator of the potential for meaningful social impact, increased community cohesion and a better civic life in London.
As recently discovered in our first ever Impact Report, over five years 1,500 professionals we’ve worked with racked up 13,279 skilled-volunteer hours to put their skills where they are most valuable: supporting mostly small charities dealing with big social issues innovatively.
With a little time, friends to help you and resources to share, these results tell an important story about how we can invest in ending Britain’s divides. Philanthropy and social action doesn’t just have to come from established players, it can come from networks of individuals giving for good. In the last year, we’ve generated a £224,909 worth of value in time and money for the social sector that didn’t exist before. Through such commitment, 84 charities working from Newham to Nepal have been able to better serve their communities and connect those who need help with individuals willing to give it.
Now in 2017, it falls on us all to double this number and we’re delighted to announce our partnership with TEDxEastEnd to make it happen.
Speaking about our shared vision, BeyondMe’s Chief Executive, Kawika Solidum, has issued and important reminder to us all: “opportunities to explore the lives of others offer an important platform: to connect, to give and to shorten the distance between us all”.
By Joel Cohen, Growth Campaigns & Communications Manager, BeyondMe
This year, TEDxEastEnd are partnering with BeyondMe to bring together individuals interested in doing more with charity projects working beyond borders. To get involved, be sure to sign up for their session during the event.