Julia Unwin has been an inspiration ever since I listened, as a Community Foundation (CF) newbie attending my very first UKCF philanthropy conference in September 2011, to her presentation as CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
Her clarity, evident passion and optimism for the role of the charitable sector in helping to deliver real social change made a lasting impression and I have tried to keep this in mind as I go about my daily work, connecting people and organisations together to achieve great things here in Oxfordshire.
For those that aren't familiar with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, it is an amazing organisation and a real thought leader, regularly sharing its research and insights. Most recently they published their long term strategy 'We can solve UK Poverty' https://www.jrf.org.uk/solve-uk-poverty and this is definitely a resource myself and the team will we looking at closely and frequently over the coming months.
But as I sit here today working on several presentations, that I myself will be making next week, I came across one of Julia's final presentations as CEO of JRF, as she has recently stepped down to take on a new role to Chair an Inquiry into Civil Society in England.
If only I were as articulate.. so I feel I have only one option but to share and implore you all to read the full transcript of her speech. https://www.jrf.org.uk/where-next-civil-society
I would like to bet that you too will then be feeling as inspired as I am and hope that you will pledge your support as we strive to do everything we can here in Oxfordshire to solve UK poverty.
My decade leading one of the bigger civil society organisations has taught me that there are things we desperately need as a society which we know how to do. We need to support affiliation, we need to foster connection, we need to learn to mediate difference. To do that we need to recognise that our roots are in place and that places really matter, but so too do the relationships we foster...our purpose is to connect people to each other and so build a stronger more sustainable society. Our sector at its very best is a connecting sector. It connects people without power to places of power. It connects within communities, and between them. It connects those who need with those who can give. It connects people with a shared interest. It enables voice and contact. It provides a welcome for the stranger. At its heart it provides for connection in our society. In concluding let’s remember that the referendum result was achieved by a slogan - one which you can be sure was tested and examined in great detail. One which clearly had huge resonance both in the focus groups, and later in the ballot box. 'Take back control' We are the sector that promises control.