It struck me recently that so much of the work I have done so far in my life has been focused towards the goal of spreading power as much as I can.
I’m not saying I’ve been that successful in doing so, not only is that for others to judge but I think that some of the problems I’ve banged up against are enduring ones and I hope that one day I’ll be able to have much more of an impact in this area than I currently have. But I thought it would be worth sharing a few examples to show what I mean.
Growing up, I was involved with a number of youth organisations in a representative role. For one particular position I was the only young person in Brighton and Hove who came forward for the post. Part of what I tried to do in these roles was to encourage the views of young people to be listened to. Also, by doing a ‘professional’ job myself I also hoped I encouraged some people older than me to believe that young people were worth listening to!
When I was lucky enough to get into Cambridge University, from the off I started to get involved with initiatives that sought to increase the possibility of people from a diverse range of backgrounds applying and getting in. I knew that I was there due to hard work but also due to a variety of fortunate factors such as having a family and a school that believed in me. Later I got involved in some bodies in my home area of Brighton. My local area has high levels of deprivation and I sat on a Board that helped to route funds to grassroots initiatives. In London I was an intern for two members of Parliament. For one I worked in their constituency office and helped people who were struggling with issues such as housing and their right to remain in the country. In my Trustee role at Centre 404, through Young Charity Trustees, and through my roles at two small charities I have tried to continue this. I have also tried to do it in many tiny, informal ways, from introducing people who I think will be able to help each other to assisting people I have met who, (for example due to a language barrier), need a little bit of support to make progress with things that are important to them.
Tied up in that word ‘power’ are a great many things. Part of it is about access to information, to networks, to money and to opportunities. Part of it is about feeling able to make a contribution because you feel you have something worthwhile to say and that others will listen. Part of it is about wanting to gain power to pass it on in your turn to communities that you care about. Part of it is around wanting to do something when you perceive injustice. Part of it is about wanting to let others access the opportunities that you have had, because you know that such opportunities have made a great difference to your life.
I am sure everyone reading this spreads power in thousands of small ways. I’d love to hear some of them.