It’s been almost two years since we became Corra Foundation. Alongside the new name we spent time reflecting on how we approach our work, how to end language rooted in power and formality, how to use the insights from the people and communities Corra works alongside to influence change, and ultimately how to be bolder when striving to make a difference.
To mark the new name Corra Foundation held the first Change Convention in 2017. The event brought people together to explore positive change amid challenge and complexity.
Two years on and it feels as though the uncertainty in society has amplified. But whilst I sat on the panel of Corra Foundation’s second Change Convention, I was struck that the drive to make a real difference is still strong.
Listening to the young people from the GK Experience and PEEK open the event was a brilliant example of this. “We are people not postcodes” they boldly told the room, challenging everyone to consider how to change to way we talk about young people and poverty. This was followed by reflections on arriving in Scotland as a refugee from Remzije Sherfi, now director of Maryhill Integration Network working to support other refugees and asylum seekers to be part of their community. Finally, Home-Start Scotland volunteer Siobhan spoke of the value of long-term family support to provide opportunities and friendship at a pace and time that’s right for those who need it.
Challenging inequality should always involve the voice of those closest to the issues. At the Change Convention rooms full of professionals were captivated by a creative workshop led by Members of Children’s Parliament. A few weeks prior the same group of children had met the First Minister to share what they believe really matters to children growing up in Scotland. It is great to see stories and experiences being recognised as an attribute of expertise, and even better that these experts are prepared to speak out.
Closing the day, Ruth Ibegbuna spoke of the need for challenging conversations to enable change. This ethos inspired her to found The Roots Programme, that aims to bridge the gap between people’s differences through greater dialogue and listening. Ruth’s reflections resonated with the theme of the day; listening is not a token gesture or a tick box exercise, it’s fundamental to inclusion and meaningful change.
The Change Convention was a great reminder of our collective responsibility to really listen; listening to create connections, build understanding and discover new ways of approaching complex issues.
Change doesn’t begin and end with a rebrand or an event. But being prepared to create space for the voices on the frontline of social issues to be heard seems a good place to start. Corra is committed to continuing the conversations from The Change Conversation and to allow for these expert insights to shape what happens next.
Corra Foundation’s second Change Convention took place on Thursday 28th March in Edinburgh. To read more about the day, including highlights from the conversations and a summary evaluation click here.