On the day that TV and radio stations observe ‘Blackout Tuesday‘ to show that racism of any kind cannot be tolerated, our Chief Executive Paul reflects on practical changes needed to tackle every day inequalities.
With COVID being such a dominant story for so many weeks, it has pushed some of the other important issues as a society to one side, or in some cases given them a new framing. The events in Minneapolis last week were a stark reminder that our society is one that is routed in inequalities. And although this incident occurred in the US, those inequalities – not just racial inequalities but in many other areas of society – also exist, and in some cases are growing in communities throughout the UK. Civil society has an important role in helping shape and change that. But as much of the work Charity So White has pointed out, civil society is often part of the problem.
But we still have a long way to go. I am in no doubt that Volunteering Matters, but also the wider voluntary sector, can and should be doing more to tackle these inequalities. I don’t believe we are doing anywhere near enough, and it’s an area I, along with my colleagues are looking to ensure has focus from the board right through to our volunteers. Systemic changes to address inequalities will take time. These events have been a reminder whilst we’ve all been focused on the immediacy of the pandemic, that these issues are still there. And that as a sector we need to redouble our efforts to address our own response and practices.
When we think of system change, we often think that change needs to come from somewhere else. But that isn’t really the case. Change can only be achieved if we first start with ourselves.
We have started to do exactly that. We recognise an ongoing commitment is required to make the changes we want to see. We recently appointed five new trustees with a range of backgrounds and experiences to reflect the diversity of our volunteering projects across the UK. You can read more about them here.
But it really is just a start. We hope over the coming weeks and months we’ll make further changes that demonstrate our commitment to ensure this is front and centre of our thinking. Only when we feel we’ve truly addressed this fully ourselves can we stand with credibility and lobby for others to change.