25
Aug
Salonee Gadgil

People aren’t voiceless, we just weren’t listening

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The beauty of language is that it is ever changing, evolving as humans evolve and adapting to better suit the times. Words that our grandparents seemed to throw around with not a care in the world, now sound abrasive, misplaced or wrong. Some words and phrases are easy to identify as being politically incorrect; we all know 80% of Snoop Dogg’s lyrics are only acceptable coming from him, in a song, and will get you fired from your job if uttered in the office.

Cancel culture may at times go a bit too far, but in general it’s a good thing that we’re constantly questioning what is and isn’t ok to say. On a side note; John Cleese, often the victim of cancellation, is going to explore wokeness in a new Channel4 documentary called Cancel Me. It promises to be both eye opening and entertaining, if you are so inclined.

It would seem this evolution of language has now sped up. This is perhaps the result of living in a more interconnected world, where we aren’t siloed and are often confronted by views differing from our own, which in turn causes us to interrogate our ways. Since we’re on the subject of Cleese, The Monty Python brand of humour, which once only brought about LOLs, now raises eyebrows. We now look back at the sitcom Friends in horror at the callous fat jokes and transphobia. It took only three decades (yes, that’s how old Friends is, but it’s a drop in the ocean of human social evolution) for this shift. It’s no surprise we find it hard to keep up and are fumbling to find correct words.

If the world of pop culture struggles with keeping up, you would imagine it’s even more challenging within the social sector and world of philanthropy, which by its very nature deals with complex and uncomfortable subject matter. By large, the social sector works towards the eradication of inequalities…of gender, race, income, housing, freedom, rights and so on. There’s no way of getting around talking about people without acknowledging that there are some in a position of power and some who aren’t. The recognition of inequality and hierarchies is important. As they say, the first step towards recovery is admission.

During the pandemic, many of our society’s inequalities stared us in the face, making themselves more visible than they were before. We’ve thought more about people on the margins, those with access to a safe place to isolate or the money to safeguard themselves. We’re thinking and talking more about inequality, which is evidenced in a massive spike in the prevalence of Google search terms, such as ‘systemic inequality’ and ‘vulnerable people’ since the start of the pandemic.

A trend analysis of search volumes associated with the terms ‘vulnerable people’ and ‘systemic inequality’ over the past 10 years.

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28
Jul
Salonee Gadgil

So… has the pandemic set us back or propelled us forward?

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Last week, just days after the restrictions in England were lifted, we hosted our first panel event. The discussion brought together great minds: Chartered Psychologist Dr Jennifer Opoku-Lageyre who spoke about her experiences treating patients with trauma and anxiety during the pandemic, Andy Ratcliffe, Executive Director of Programmes at Impact on Urban Health, who shed light on what it was like supporting communities in South London during the pandemic and Maccs Pescatore, CEO, Montessori Centre International who shared her views on how lockdowns have impacted Britain’s early years education. The conversation was chaired by Sarah O’Grady, Social Affairs Correspondent at the Daily Express and our Managing Director Laura Oliphant.

It was rich discussion, one that was supposed to last 45 mins, but lingered on for much longer and continued over a few glasses of wine. Our insightful speakers and engaged audience had much to talk about. The discussion swung between being quite pessimistic about the damage done by the pandemic, and optimistic about it being the catalyst we needed to bring about social change. We asked those in attendance what they’d remember most about things that were discussed. What’s the one idea or insight they’d take with them? Here’s what they said they’d be most likely thinking about on the train ride home.

The fact that there is a difference in 12 years of life expectancy within Lambeth borough.  

 We often talk about the great divide between the haves and have-nots in London. But Andy really hammered the message home with this very shocking statistic. It reinforces the need for tailored messaging around things like the vaccine. Can we really be reaching these two very disparate groups of people, one in Dulwich, another on Queen’s Road Peckham using the same public service messages asking them to go take the vaccine? Are we surprised they don’t all behave the same way?

We haven’t seen the economic second wave yet.

 A lot of Andy’s work at Impact on Urban Health is around how life hits health, that is, how housing, jobs and income affect ones physical health. So far, we’ve had the job retention scheme, we’ve had benefits, and suspended evictions. People working in the sector worry that when all these support systems are taken away, there will be a new wave of illnesses from people who can’t eat or live as well, or look after their children because of economic pressures. People have been talking about ‘long covid’, but what Andy’s been worried about is the ‘long pandemic’.

The desire to make decisions begins very young and is fundamental to our development.

Maccs reminded us of just how important early years education is, in developing decision-making skills. When a child goes into a Montessori nursery, they learn to make their own choices about what they want to play with, draw, and so on. This ability to make choices, autonomously, is vital in building a sense of self and resilience. Dr Jen pointed out that over the course of the pandemic, rules have been made for us. This loss of autonomy has been the fundamental cause for why people have experienced poor mental health. Humans strive for autonomy and personal freedom. If adults are suffering from the lack of the freedom to choose, what impact has living under strict guidelines had on small children? Should we really be more worried about the loss of their maths ability during the pandemic, when the real issue may be an ingrained lack of autonomy?

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04
Jun
Salonee Gadgil

Brand purpose cannot start with comms

Posted by Salonee Gadgil

Brand purpose has become more central to our discussions over the years, claiming a coveted seat at panel discussions. You know the sort, where woke creative types with sombre expressions, quirky glasses and a righteous keep cup gather to talk about important things. I go to them too, with my keep cup – it’s made with recycled materials, thank you very much.

I’m not imagining the rise of brand purpose. I like evidence. A quick nosey around Google Trends will show you how the global search volumes for the term ‘brand purpose’ have been on the rise over the last five years.

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