One of the things I’ve said many times over the years is the need to think about volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity as a way of coping with a rapidly changing world. I’m not going to tell you to stop doing that! With a new Government with such a large majority we now know that after years, things will start moving fast…or at least it will look and feel as if they are. That big majority means acceleration. We’re just still waiting to see what direction it will take. Who knows what version of ‘One Nation Conservatism’ we will actually see? Will there be any steps taken to heal the divisions of the last few years, will there be real change? Somehow I doubt it because all the evidence so far is that the real divisions – class and race for example – don’t mean very much to this Prime Minister. He could go a long way, at zero cost to the public purse, to withdraw and apologise for some of the things he has said and written over the years. If he genuinely wants to bring people together, this has to be his starting point.
To most of us in Manchester’s voluntary groups, community organisations, charities and social enterprises, this might seem to be a distraction: stuff that happens miles away in London – likewise the fights which are already building between PM and the Scots Nationalists since they have both seen significant increases in support and we’re literally going to be in the middle of all that. The reason it matters is because all of this will be at the heart of the stories in the media for the coming years. It boils down to a simple question: who do we want to be?
January marks 10 years since we established Manchester Community Central. In the midst of the worst snow we’d seen in years, a bunch of us made our way into the office and pressed the button which launched our new website, opened our new phone line and made a start. 10 years later it has helped to bring in millions of pounds to hundreds of Manchester organisations, supported local people to build new community groups, helped strengthen what they do and helped bring new talent and energy into our organisations. When we launched I promised it would keep evolving and it has. We have made plenty of mistakes along the way but we will keep listening and learning. We’re going to carry that on this year. We’re building our Opening Up Leadership programme to support leaders of all kinds in communities and organisations, we’re going to do more work to find common cause with people in local businesses who have a sense of social purpose. We’re going to work on how Macc helps great things happen in Manchester and how we can make what we do more inclusive, more mutually supportive and easier to get what you need from us. Macc alone doesn’t make all this happen. It’s all of us.
Poverty and inequality are rising. Social anger and hostility towards each other seems to be increasing. We’re burning through our limited natural resources. All this despite the most widespread and visible campaigns and social action movements I think we’ve ever seen. You might be tempted to wonder whether it all makes a difference. Believe me, it does. The power of people standing with each other, building hope, making their voices heard, it’s a multi-generation effort to create change. It’s people saying “this is who we want to be”. I am sceptical of anyone who claims to have All The Answers: but there is a truth that all of us is more capable, more creative and more intelligent than one of us. And even in the tiniest most informal community group, that spirit is what makes it work. Collaboration is the way out of the darkness. Hope and help are to be found when we work together.
We’re now entering the 2020s. The last version of the Twenties was known as The Roaring 20s. Let’s make this one roar in a different way.
Best wishes for a new year and a new decade.
With love from all of us.
Via MuddyFeetPoetry on Twitter, I recently saw this thought provoking poem by Rebecca Cooney. It's described as being about "the exploitation of 3rd world countries and those who suffer under colonialistic rule". I think that's something we have to explore when we consider who we want to be.