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Creating change - from the bottom up

We've been taking an enterprising, collaborative approach to tackling social problems for over twelve years.

And we've learnt a thing or two over that time.

This learning is reflected in our guiding principles.

I explored recently why we've chosen generosity as one of our guiding principles. And here I'd like to talk about one of the others:

We believe in people power

This principle is informed by many years of working with people to try to work out how to change things for the better.

And it's why this Oxfam postcard has been pinned above various desks I've worked at over 25 years - ever since I bought it from the fairtrade shop where I was working at the time.

It's obvious to us that people have to be involved in creating their own solutions.

This is why Leeds School Uniform Exchange has been such a success.

It is built around the idea of people co-operating in their local neighbourhood to share uniform. It's peer-to-peer. Family to family. You can offer uniform. You can ask for uniform. You can get involved in organising it all. You can be part of the solution.


People power has been central to other projects we have been part of too.

A few years ago we got involved with a new community land trust for Leeds - Leeds Community Homes.

They were just starting out - with big ambitions to create affordable housing in Leeds.

We worked with them to help them to get started. We helped them to write their first business plan - which sat behind their initial community share offer.

We designed a community engagement campaign to help them to achieve their ambitious goal of raising £360,000 from local people - in just three months. We hit the target - with a day to spare - having run a creative campaign which included a launch at Leeds Indoor Market and a film showing at Hyde Park Picture House.

We told a story of how people could get involved and invest in #PeoplePoweredHomes. Faced with a social problem where we often feel powerless - the housing crisis - we gave people an opportunity to be part of a practical response.

And as Leeds Community Homes grew, we continued to support them - for example by running a community engagement process to encourage people in Armley to get involved in creating people powered homes in their neighbourhood.


You'll see, throughout our work, how we work hard to design projects that aim to involve local people in creating solutions.

Our recent glass recycling campaign is one example - as we worked with local community groups to involve young people in designing new glass banks where they live.

We think this is particularly important when it comes to working out how we can respond to the climate crisis.

Big changes will be required if we're going to have a decent place to call home in 20 years time.

And we'll need big, systemic interventions from governments and businesses.

But we'll also need the involvement of local people - making changes to how they live, whilst being directly involved in creating changes in the place they call home.

Involving people in changing things for the better is key. People don't respond well to having things done to them. But if you can find ways to involve people from the start, so that they come up with their own solutions, then there's a much better chance of creating long-term change.


We want to create more people-powered change.

If you'd like to explore how we can help you to work with local people to create change where you are, please get in touch.

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