BLOG 10th January 2012: Alison Seabrooke reflects on the upcoming year
How right we were, but how wrong, too. However much we prepared – we conducted scenario planning, the most extreme of which manifested itself – we could not have anticipated the speed and intensity of the change that needed to take place in 2011. The conclusion of our role as a non-departmental body and the opening of another phase in CDF’s 45-year history, took the energy and commitment of Trustees and staff. And we also drew, thankfully, on the comradeship of our many partners in the third, public and private sectors as as we went on to win work amidst the upheaval of redundancies and office closures which CDF, along with many others, experienced.
CDF is now in an excellent position to face the future, but we will continue to need to adapt to a volatile social, political and economic environment. Organisations are not passive recipients of ‘the environment’ and it is incumbent on all of us involved in social change to try to influence and shape it. CDF’s Trustees have given a strong steer that in the next couple of years, we need to focus on the impact the recession is having on communities and, in particular, young people. This doesn’t mean that CDF will become a young people’s organisation, but where we can we will seek ways to provide evidence of the benefits of a community development approach to working with them, treating them as individuals with an important community role to play, rather than a service-led demographic group.
I am a parent of four young people aged 22 to 14. The experiences they have faced growing up have been more dramatic and traumatic than I can ever remember. They have coped with drug-related deaths of friends, absent parents and young parenting, worklessness and redundancy. But they all share the same aspirations as I had at their age; they aspire to fulfilling work, to become independent and raise their own families in the future. They have amazing networks of friends and are incredibly savvy.
It is unfair, then, that they are so often represented negatively, particularly when the environment they live in and shapes their behaviours is not of their making. It is the responsibility of those of us who have created this environment to help them to be heard, so they have the chance to influence positive change. In a year’s time I want CDF to be measured against the role it has played in achieving this.