I co-founded CS in 2010 with Dom Thomas and Chris Jockel, all of us hugely influenced by the cooperative Woodcraft youth movement in which we had worked for a decade. Our teaching, sustainability, creativity and environmental science backgrounds gave Creative Sustainability the culture it still has today, and inclusion guru Philip Douch gave us confidence to be led by our values rather than service provision.
These days my pre-occupation is with system change, where our community sector has been stretched to breaking point to compensate for beleaguered NHS and statutory services. The community sector must be afforded more power to create and maintain the critical function it has for people and communities, as it deals with wave after wave of crisis. It needs to be connected and sustained as a whole ecosystem rather than a collection of unrelated functions. We need to improve cross-sector partnership with equally shared risk, fairer distribution of resources, inbuilt capacity to share and learn best practice partnership working, and give community leaders the decision making powers they need.
I work through our consultancy arm, Critical Friends, to support other agencies with their community engagement practice, to make research and consultations meaningful and genuine for communities. Work that began with the county wide GEM project to establish coproduced inclusive evaluation methodology, is changing the way people think about evaluation and making it useful, respectful and truthful. My facilitation skills are supporting others with better decision making process, that help overcome inequities and allow all voices to be heard. As a Trustee for Locality I am supporting the team to explore their Inclusion and Diversity agenda, beginning with the Board.
As CEO I am leading my team to be bold and creative in their approaches, to take risks and to innovate. Technology, arts and nature all have equal status in our ways of working, in how we support people, in our research and our community action.