On July 10th we were very pleased to be listed in the Observer as one of Nesta's 50 New Radical Organisations 2016, amongst a host of inspiring individuals and organisations working hard to have a positive impact on the world. For us, the New Radical awards offer a glimpse of a different kind of society, one that we're very proud to be a part of creating and one where compassion, inclusivity and practicality set the agenda. The awards also provide a lens through which to view today’s tensions. In the UK alone, the turbulent effects of recent politics have opened the floodgates for a current of class-based and racial tension; illuminating the entrenched divisions and fear that permeates our communities. Beyond our borders we’re seeing an escalating refugee crisis, an encroaching climate crisis and a rise in both xenophobia and terrorism. To see Techfugees and Refuweegee (two organisations that have sprung up in the last year) celebrated for the innovative contributions they have made in response to the refugee crisis at once demonstrates a very determined human response and a very sad, unsettled state of affairs.
Despite what must be one of the strangest periods in recent history, we’re feeling optimistic. At Worthwhile we work with small and innovative organisations to create the conditions for everyone to have a big social impact from the start of their careers. Since January we’ve spoken to over 700 incredible young people looking to kick start a career that makes a difference. We recently wrapped up our third graduate scheme cycle and said goodbye to 23 incredible people who are moving on to a diverse range of impactful opportunities; from managerial positions in their host organisations, to new and exciting learning opportunities, or even starting up their own social ventures. We now have a 78 strong alumni community which we’ve seen morph into a supportive ecosystem; opportunities are shared; advice is given; friendships are cemented. They help us hack out answers to how we can make the scheme the best it could be, they hold us to account and they help us dream big. Our inclusion on Nesta’s top 50 list is a nod towards all the young radicals we’re lucky to work with.
Four things have become clear in the three years we’ve been running Worthwhile: 1) we need driven young people to use their energy and talent to solve society’s most pressing problems 2) young people want to be working on social problems 3) as a whole, the social sector in its current state lacks the scaffolding: the training, the opportunities and the networked ecosystem to help young people tackle these big problems 4) When young people are given the training, the opportunities and the support to guide them, the impact they can have is phenomenal. We need to make this the norm, not the exception.
We need to attract more talent towards social issues, and we need more radical organisations to realise the immense potential that we can cultivate and extract if we invest in this talent. In these turbulent times we need to be collaborating to get better talent through the doors of small social impact organisations. We need to move away from competing and towards collective impact; we need to interrogate where funding is being allocated; we need to leverage better support for innovation and better investment in talent development. And if we’re going to bring the topics of talent and impact to the table we need radical transparency to underscore every conversation.
We believe in the power of young people, the innovative work of small and ambitious social impact organisations, the importance of collaboration. We’ve seen a huge wave of energy raise the profile of social enterprise and social change projects, and we are constantly meeting inspiring people who are making a stand for social change. Let’s get our heads together, let’s get behind our young socially motivated talent and let’s all do something a little bit radical to make our world a better place.