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We are pleased to announce a fund, raised from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, to support Black-led charities and social enterprises making a difference in their local communities across the UK.
Common Call is poised to redress the lack of resources, skills and tools that inequality of resource allocation metes upon the Black community in the UK. Through the provision of funding and wrap-around support, we will empower Black people building organisations that have been negatively affected by the COVID crisis to engage actively and beneficially in the communities in which they live.
To understand the impact of COVID-19 on our community, we carried out a few in-depth interviews with founders. Based on those interviews, we understand that the key challenges they are currently facing in the COVID-19 crisis are:
Black-led organisations are often unable to access the amount of funding that is needed to carry out great pieces of work that will create a transformative impact on underserved communities around the country because they have limited track record of finance or funds management. We have the opportunity with this Common Call COVID Fund, to provide a package of funding and support into highly promising yet underserved organisations. Through this fund, we can support them and give them a better chance to continue their services and navigate this crisis.
We expect our beneficiaries will be primarily working in:
Our goal is to make it easier for Black people with lived experience of key issues to build and sustain social enterprises and charitable organisations that solve the problems they had to fight to overcome.
Black-led charities and social enterprises can apply for unrestricted grant support ranging from £1K-£3K which will come with 1 year of support to help them bridge the gap that the COVID crisis created in their organisation’s trajectory while also providing them with access to key experts and peer that can help them grow their work sustainably and effectively in the future.
We will help grantees:
The first round of applications is open throughout August 2020 and funds will be disbursed in Black History Month, October 2020.
Applications should be made on the Common Call website - www.commoncall.fund
Bayo Adelaja | Chief Do-er | This is how I got here
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It’s certainly not the most exciting industry, but as a friend and known veteran if the third sector reminded me a couple of weeks ago, the UK’s third sector, made up of civil society organisations like social enterprises and charities, is responsible for more of the country’s GDP than its agriculture output. They both stand at under 1% with agriculture representing 0.61% and the third sector representing 0.9%, but that reframing of my awareness of the sector helped me come to terms with something else I have been reckoning with as we worked to redesign our strategy in light of COVID to ensure we could continue making a significant impact while ostensibly scaling down our operations until our organisation returned to its normal capacity. The conclusion was, the third sector matters; under 1% of the country’s GDP is responsible for bridging the gaps drastic government cuts to local services have made over the past 10 years. So what happens when the sector that is responsible for doing such transformative and necessary work is not itself representative of the population at every level? The least represented groups suffer from misrepresentation, inadequate and insufficient support and inappropriate methodologies (chicken boxes anyone?).
We’ve spent the past few months reworking a picture of the future of the UK’s Black community. Factoring in things like the effect of COVID and continued cuts to social services funding in low resourced areas where most people of colour and especially Black people live in the UK, we decided one thing we could do to help redress the balance is to create a fund. Hence Common Call. It is the UK’s first grant fund dedicated to Black-led social enterprises and charities. We are providing grants between £1K and £3K in addition to strategic support and access to experts for the further development of organisations that are also committed to the development of Black communities in the UK. The second thing to do, in recognition of the diversity and even more particularly, the inclusion problem that is rampant within the third sector, is support organisations to build spaces that support the entry and retention of Black talent into the third sector.
It remains true that Black people are the most willing of any racial group to engage in volunteering within their local community when surveyed according to the Office of National Statistics, yet in practice, Black people are highly underrepresented within the third sector, in volunteering roles but also in mid-level and senior-level leadership positions. Retention is very low as many Black staff leave organisations within the first three years. Racism is deeply entrenched within the third sector with 70% of the sectors racialised population reporting to have either experienced racism directly or have been privy to a colleague’s experience of racism within the third sector. The problem is well documented with extensive research detailing problems such as microaggressions in the workplace, inability to secure promotions even when comparable work has led to promotions of non-racialized staff in a similar time frame, as well as a preeminence of piecemeal and light touch solutions that aim to mask, rather than seek to solve, the deeply entrenched race problems within charitable organisations.
As we settle back into life in a pandemic and re-engage with the status quo in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, we are now more than ever in search of tangible, effective and long-lasting methodology to either avoid the outcome of business-as-usual, that is the outcry of the disenfranchised masses that took to the streets, or better yet, solve the underlying problems that, for many organisations, have previously been masked by half-baked diversity and inclusion strategies like changing the pictures on the public-facing aspects of organisations, such as their websites and social media platforms to “reflect the society in which we operate”.
For those of us that choose to lean into a belief that the old days must be done and a new day must come, a new policy and practice must also be put into place. That, of course, is anti-racism. Engaging in the discussion and practice of anti-racism is a transformative experience for those that have been subject to racism and those that have perpetuated or benefited from the subjugation of people of colour within a system or sphere of life and experience. As Ibrahim X Kendi, the author of the seminal text How to be Anti-Racist writes, “The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it.”
The dismantling of racism within an organisation is dependent on every member of the organisation to do their part. Organisational culture, like any other formal society, is underpinned by a clear set of rules and a less clear set of acceptable behaviours that are governed by each individual stakeholder within the organisation. When all is said and done, each individual, through their interaction with others within the organisation weaves a tangled web that takes up space and constricts the movement of people that would seek to create new patterns and shapes for the benefit of themselves and by virtue of that, the whole. To dismantle racism within an organisation each individual must recognise the tangled web they have woven, meaning the part they have had to play in forming, propping up or perpetuating a culture that is not anti-racist.
Anti-racism is everybody’s business. It is active and must live and breathe within the organisation as clear cut as, and impenetrable as, the exclusive culture that has been allowed to permeate in your business landscape whether that masked itself as a Boy’s Club, Upper-Class Club, White Club or any other demographic exclusivity that could, by virtue of its very being, dissuade a hopeful beneficiary from seeking help, or a great applicant from submitting their cover letter and CV in hopes of making your organisation better.
Anti-racism is about power and policies. From the individual and interpersonal, we move to the institutional and structural aspects of racists ideology that underpins the working of much of our society. These are some actions that can be undertaken within any third sector organisation within the next year:
We are doing what we can and will continue to do so as an organisation that is committed to ensuring Black people are supported to achieve and empowered to succeed across the UK.
Bayo Adelaja | Chief Do-er | This is how I got here
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Do it Now Now (DINN) is an open innovation organisation driven by the desire to bring social empowerment to Black communities across the globe. We bring charities, social entrepreneurs, startup teams, social innovators, investors, and philanthropists together to address social challenges, solve problems and support the development of Black communities specifically. We do this through entrepreneurship training and support in 6 African countries and in the UK.
When we launched DINN 4 years ago, we were piecing together an ecosystem to support Black people who are systematically removed from the existing entrepreneurship ecosystem of support globally. We sought to design the experience of entrepreneurship anew for Black and mixed with Black people around the world. To do that, we have had to work closely with our community to understand their needs. By identifying and engaging with key stakeholders across the entire business support landscape we can design programs that truly meet the needs of our beneficiaries.
We have an established track record, financed largely by consultancy work we have done with organisations like Google, Goldsmiths University, the British Council and others. This gives us the opportunity to continue supporting Black entrepreneurs who are unable to access paid services elsewhere. We have run 54 entrepreneurship training programs supporting over 8000 Black entrepreneurs in the UK and in Africa; 80% of our work has been with Black entrepreneurs in the UK. After a qualitative research study, we discovered that 78% of our beneficiaries identify as social enterprises and are primarily working on solutions to support Black people in the following areas:
As an organisation, Do it Now Now is poised to redress the deprivation of resources, skills and tools that inequality of resource allocation metes upon the Black community in the UK. Through the provision of training in leadership, activism and entrepreneurship, we empower Black people to engage actively and beneficially in the communities in which we live.
The Black community has been very hard hit financially by COVID and that has had a very strong knock-on effect on the social enterprises and charities that are run by Black people in the UK. With the majority of the organisations, we support relying on grant funding, personal savings and in some cases pay-day loans to help them bridge the financial gap to deliver on their charitable objectives and social aims, the difficulty to access funding and the significant reduction in wages all of the population faces means that the Black community could potentially be irrevocably harmed by the current circumstances.
The financial instability has left a significant support gap for the beneficiaries of our beneficiaries. We support enterprises that bridge the deeply felt gap of provision Black people experience across the UK. According to the Office of National Statistics, 19.6% of the Black population lives in the most deprived parts of the country, the highest of any racial group to be concentrated in deprived areas. There is an urgent need. If we don’t step in and intentionally support Black-led social enterprises and charities now, within the next 18 months, we will see a significant decrease in the community initiatives and projects run by Black-led social enterprises and charities that work to bridge the resource and support gap that Black people and other people of colour living in deprived areas in the UK experience.
If you, like us, are concerned for the future of Black-led enterprises creating beneficial impact in local communities across the UK, please head to our donation page where you or your company can contribute to their support.
Bayo Adelaja | Chief Do-er at Do it Now Now | This is how I got here
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We want to dedicate this post to those fighting for equality and justice by sharing helpful books, resources, and articles.
Throughout history, there have been moments that can be said to have been inflexion points in race relations. These moments shock our core beliefs as a society and force each of us to redefine who we are and who we want to be. The recent killings of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in America, are such moments.
Like Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech" and his subsequent assassination, the election of Barack Obama and the subsequent election of Donald Trump, we are faced with a series of momentous occurrences that have sent shockwaves through global and local communities forcing each individual to come to terms with the society in which they exist, and perhaps for some, for the first time truly question the values, and belief systems their position in that society depends on.
Bayo Adelaja shares our position.
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Growing up, I found it difficult to understand why Blackness was considered to be some sort of cultural monolith. The experience of an African immigrant to the UK, being different from those of a 3rd generation Black British person, similarly the African immigrant to the US, being different from those of a 3rd generation Black American person. It seemed odd that the Black American experience should stand as a cultural proxy for all things Black, yet it does. That’s because, despite the nuances between the geographical and cultural experiences of Blackness globally, there are many more similarities that exist between us. I’m referring to the oppression; the subjugation, manipulation, corruption and exploitation of Black communities, bodies, futures and minds.
The common denominator of the Black experience around the world is efficiently described in the Langston Hughes poem, “I, too”. The poem is set in the realities of the Southern slave plantations whose masters were known to habitually rape their slaves resulting in mixed-race children. The children were afforded certain privileges while continuing to be significantly deprived of any of the rights associated with being an heir of the master’s household. In the poem, Hughes meekly argues for equal treatment between the subject of the poem, “the darker brother” and his siblings, completely unexpectant of a positive resolution despite his protests.
Throughout history, there have been moments that can be said to have been inflexion points in race relations. These moments shock our core beliefs as a society and force each of us to redefine who we are and who we want to be. The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in America, are such moments. Like Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his subsequent assassination, the election of Barack Obama and the subsequent election of Donald Trump, we are faced with a series of momentous occurrences that have sent shockwaves through global and local communities forcing each individual to come to terms with the society in which they exist, and perhaps for some, for the first time truly question the values, and belief systems their position in that society depends on.
We are living through unprecedented times in which the gruesome death of a person can be shared with billions of people around the world. The disgusting, tyrannical and violent behaviour that led to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbrey and Breonna Taylor have ignited a level of empathy across the world Black people do not usually receive. These are not the first deaths, these are not the first people that have been reduced to the incident in which they died. There have been a lot of hashtags and every time one of them trends, we instinctively consider the hundreds or thousands that didn’t. These unprecedented times have rightly re-ignited conversations concerning proper and effective allyship. However, allyship needs to extend beyond the marching of the masses into seats of power. Until people in power can effectively display their allyship with minority groups, beyond thoughts, prayers and condolences, all efforts to work within the framework that is provided to us by those people will fail to bring transformative change to nations and the globe.
I often think about the murder of 14-year-old Mississippi boy, Emmett Till, who was lynched by an angry mob in 1955 because he was accused of touching a white woman. Emmett was innocent. 1955 wasn’t a long time ago. My mum was born in 1955. 8 years later, Martin Luther King Jr, gave his defining speech and was assassinated in 1969. The 60s saw many African countries gaining independence from their colonisers, the final country gaining independence in 1993. In the 70s, while other American racial groups were feeling “groovy baby”, Black Americans were fighting and dying for the rights to be seen, heard and valued as members of society. The end of South Africa’s Apartheid only began in 1994, before that, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. In 2017, we were reminded that Africans are still being sold into slavery around the world. Black people are currently experiencing extremely harsh discrimination in China, with many of them being forcibly evicted from their homes amid the COVID-19 crisis. Only a few weeks ago, I wrote about the systemic discrimination that significantly reduces opportunities for Black people in the UK to live healthy and satisfying lives. On every front, we are being collectively oppressed. For as long as this history has played out, our society has applauded the verbalisation of allyship without reaping the rewards of action associated with it. Beyond allyship, we need Black activists, entrepreneurs and leaders; Black people who will utilise their resources, access, tools, creativity, skills and lived experiences to fight off the oppression, and succeed through the trials and tribulations so that they can usher other Black people safely to the other side.
Like the main character in the Langston Hughes poem, some individuals and innovators seek to redress the balance and aim to create a world in which the detrimental outcomes of racism no longer exist. Unlike the main character, our meekness has been replaced by righteous fury and passion for the development and empowerment of Black people globally. Until now, we have lived in a world in which the people with the power to change things have been complicit in the continued subjugation of our community by refusing to take opportunities to establish programs that will lead to transformative change and equality in our society. The people that are most in need of key solutions to aid social mobility should be the ones designing, and delivering them. However, with so few Black people being able to access the information, tools and resources needed to create authentic solutions to lived experiences, our future will continue to be held ransom by people who do not have a vested interest in our power and equality.
Bayo Adelaja | Chief Do-er at Do it Now Now | This is how I got here
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Voluntarism is one of the most effective ways to engage in society because it helps individuals, gain skills, build stronger networks, gain new experiences and access new opportunities. However, the opportunity to access opportunities to volunteer effectively are not available to all.
Over the past few years, I have taken the time to distil the formula that led to my professional positioning and current level of experience and expertise and realised that I have gotten to the place I am in today because I saw an advert seeking volunteers at my local MPs office. I had just failed to get into the university of my choice and was so shocked by that revelation that I decided to take a year out to recalibrate, resit a couple of exams and then apply again. To justify my choice to my parents, I promised that I would spend the year volunteering. It wasn’t a promise I had taken very seriously and really rather considered it as an offer of self-punishment for having not secured the grades I needed.
Before I actually experienced formal volunteering, the only type of volunteering I was familiar with was volunteering at church, which is valuable and a fantastic opportunity to give back to my own community, but the access that I was able to gain outside of my community through volunteering is what got me here. Advocating for voluntarism in the black community is about access. Voluntarism was not something I was taught in any sphere of my life, to see as an opportunity to achieve and access greater things. Before I started my role, I was more than prepared to sit in an office and file documents one after the other for hours on end or otherwise stare blankly into a computer screen while proofreading long policy and regulation manuals that I couldn’t possibly have cared less about. However, my volunteer managers had something much more interesting and dynamic planned for me.
I admit before I started the role, for which I was properly interviewed, I had no real understanding of how MPs helped people or that MPs helped people. I didn’t engage with local services, and my immigration status actually specifically forbade me from doing so. Giving back to a system that had already been so difficult to navigate and had put such a strain on my parents as they sought to exist within it, make a living and adequately provide for their children, seemed nonsensical. Yet there was treasure hidden in the beige and brick walls of the MPs office, manned primarily by old ladies with a deep love for strong black tea and digestive biscuits. While there were moments of filing documents and proofreading proposals, there were many more moments that I spent speaking with constituents of the borough who had real problems and were hoping for real solutions.
For six months, while I rarely saw people that looked like me sit in for meetings with the MP or his senior staff, I still felt seen and supported in those offices by people who were committed to ensuring I gained skills that would help me excel in the future. I learned about time management, customer management, project planning, budgets, database management and I soaked it all up. My enthusiasm for the opportunity must have come across because after those first few months, a job became available in the Westminster office and it was offered to me. My first real job made me the sole breadwinner of my family at that time, and the youngest professional employee of the House of Commons that year. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to help out my family in our time of need. That voluntary opportunity came at a time that I needed it most and provided teaching that became so beneficial to me from that point on. More than that, it was that experience that taught me to choose first the thing that helps people, and secondly find the people that will seek to help you and third, weigh the financial reward that it promises. Those values have remained the core of my entire professional career.
Over the past 10 years in the workforce, I have sought to imbibe those values in everything I have done, which invariably led me to the world of technology and social entrepreneurship. Perhaps not inevitably, but sincerely. My passion is to ensure that every Black person around the world has access to the tools and resources they need to become the fully realised most functional version of themselves. Unlike other demographic populations around the world, Black people, no matter the geographic location of our bodies, typically find ourselves disadvantaged in terms of social mobility and access. The two spaces that affect the development of our world more than any other are civil society and technology. Hence, for the past few years, here at Do it Now Now, we have been asking and seeking to provide answers to the question, “what do Black people need to succeed in this day and age?”, because if you help the lowest-ranked or least likely to succeed in a space, do so, you are inevitably building up the rest of the population that could seek to utilise those services in the future. That’s why we start from the Black perspective and have worked with many organizations to help them develop strategies from that perspective as well. By working with some of the leading organisations in the world, like Google for Startups, the British Council, PwC and others, we have learned, adapted and evolved as an organisation to better support Black people into better circumstances.
I am excited to announce that I have an opportunity to do something extraordinary over the next few years. I have recently been appointed as a Trustee and Director of the Royal Voluntary Service in the UK. As the name suggests, the organisation, backed by The Royal Family, has a rich tradition of voluntarism that started with the second world war during which they engaged women to volunteer their time to the war effort; leading to a revolution that forever changed the country’s workforce as women became aware that they too are capable of work in all its forms. Today, Royal Voluntary Service is the leading voluntary organisation in support of the NHS and care facilities in communities across the country.
I am honoured to have received the invitation to join the Trustee Board because I recognise the opportunity it will provide me to utilise my learning in a new context (which is always a joy), but also help an organisation that has such an incredible influence over an integral industry understand the needs of Black people (who are typically a proxy for other people of colour groups and people from low-income backgrounds) when it comes to engaging in voluntarism in the formal volunteering sector. One of our key goals as an organisation is to significantly contribute to the increase of formal voluntarism within the Black community in the UK. Currently, according to the Office of National Statistics. 48% of the UK’s Black community would like to be formally involved in their community, yet only 8% are doing so. We’d like to see this number rise (particularly for young people) because, as I hope my story exemplified, formal voluntarism bring real benefit to those who engage in it. It provides work experience, professional references, the opportunity to see the world through a new lens, and to get accustomed early to navigating the White spaces every Black person needs to learn to navigate to survive as a minority.
Bayo Adelaja | Chief Do-er at Do it Now Now | This is how I got here