Power Sharing Project

What would it look like if civil society in London was better at sharing power in pursuit of social change? 

A Cornerstone funded project hosted by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation 2019-2021

We know that people are often inspired to be change makers because of something they, or their community, have experienced.  

Yet organisations campaigning to tackle poverty and inequality in London don’t always share power meaningfully with people with lived experience. Why is that? And what would it look like if civil society was better at sharing power in pursuit of social change?

In the Social Change Project we found that civil society is at its best when it is sharing resources and power. We want to help London’s civil society open up and shift power to people with direct experience of poverty and inequality, to create a better balance between lived and learnt experience.

Because SMK believes that every should be able to shape their world.  

SMK will host a conversation over the next two years, but we need you to join in. Just like the Social Change Project, it will be driven by a Community of Practice from across civil society – people with lived and learnt experience who want to change the way things work.

What would getting involved mean for you? 

The community of practice will be a flexible commitment, but we think you will gain as much as you can give. We won’t make huge demands on your time – just invite you to contribute. It’s up to you whether you are able to do so. 

The Power Sharing Project is more than an inquiry or piece of research. We want everyone to learn from being involved. We’ll work as a group to unpick some tricky questions about power in the social sector, whilst also thinking about what it means to build a successful campaign that puts lived experience at its heart. We’ll use lots of our insights from the Social Change Project, such as the Social Change Grid and the 12 Habits of Successful Change-Makers, and other tools from our Influencing Change training course. We will ensure that income is not a barrier to participation.

We are not experts in lived experience and will be on a journey alongside the Community of Practice. We’ll approach this project practically rather than academically, whilst being rooted in evidence. And we will always strive to model the sorts of behaviours we want to see. 

So, what are our plans, and how can you get involved? 

Stage 1: Starting now. What does good look like? 

Have you stepped into becoming a change-maker as a result of your personal experience? We’d love to hear your story, and how you think civil society can make more space for the power of people with lived experience.  We also want to hear about innovative ways in which organisations and groups are sharing power – not just in London but all over the world.

Stage 2: Starting Spring 2020.  What are the burning issues? 

When it comes to campaigning for change, what are the burning issues around sharing power? What gets in the way? What does it look and feel like when power is better shared?

We’re convening a very broad Community of Practice – and we’d love to see you there. We’ll be hosting workshops with all kinds of people who have lived and learnt experience, and in a range of creative ways. We want to work with you to digest what we hear and delve deeper into some of those burning issues.

Stage 3: Summer 2020. What is the big vision? 

Digesting everything we’ve learnt so far, we’ll work with the Community of Practice to describe what civil society organisations in London sharing power better might look like.

Stage 4: Starting in 2021. What would this look like in practice? 

We’ll pilot approaches to power sharing. We’ll look for organisations who want to explore what it would mean for them, both culturally and structurally.

Stage 5: From Summer 2021. Sharing our insights and recommendations 

Working with the Community of Practice, we’ll share our vision of what it would look like if civil society was better at sharing power, our insights from the piloting deep dives, and our cross-cutting lessons and recommendations from the project. 

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