#ourwayahead new logo

On July 12th 2017, people from London’s community groups and wider voluntary sector met to participate in an open space discussion at London Met University.

A network of networks shared their stories in an open, attendee owned conversation. In this inclusive and participative precursor to shared action, Our Way Ahead members sought to breakdown isolation and eschew unhelpful competition.

Our Way Ahead member organisations participated in an evening of discussion, presentation and performance. Their purpose being to reflect in a democratic and sustainable way on recent pressing issues, and to build voice, agency and grassroots infrastructure at a time of crisis and division.

The #OWA participants, associates, planning group members and the event presenters in participation were:

Malcolm Ball – Lewisham Young Mayor ‘s Adviser

The Young Mayor provides a focus and a channel for young people’s views to be heard by decision makers. The Young Mayor is supported by young advisers and a Young Citizens’ Panel and they have access to the full range of young people’s forums, networks and school councils. The Young Mayor is democratically elected every year through Lewisham’s schools and colleges.

Just Map – Barbara Braychay

Mapping for community-led planning and a fairer London. JustMap is an ongoing collaborative map of London community resources, campaigns and projects. It is based on public workshops organised at community events or festivals to collect directly from Londoners their intelligence of their city. Its goal is to highlight communities resources and projects, to connect actors campaigning for a fairer London and to identify strategic cooperations.

Pete Burden – Outlandish

The members of Outlandish want to unleash technology’s potential to make the world a fairer, better place. Outlandish is made up of around 20 collaborators and co-owners who love humour, quality code, and apps that challenge the status quo. Outlandish is a democratic organisation with open and fair membership, like all co-operatives.

Shamsher Chohan – Communities Inc

Communities Inc. is a new (BME-led) national social enterprise. It was set up as a response to the lack of creativity and innovation being demonstrated by not for profit organisations when seeking to challenge inequalities, discrimination and deprivation in an environment of ever decreasing resources. Communities Inc’s focus is on projects that break down barriers and which empower and inspire both individuals and organisations. Communities Inc were awarded the Upstanding Organisation Award at the inaugural National Hate Crime Awards on 17 November, 2016.

Misogyny awareness video:

Mama D – Community Centred Knowledge

Our goal is to enable individuals, families and communities to participate effectively in finding solutions to their own challenges which disturb or subtract from their wellbeing, health and living full lives. We focus on particularly, but not exclusively, those of African and Caribbean heritage. We have identified this community as one which is most internally fragmented and disconnected from each other and their host communities and who are therefore most challenged in building up resilience at family and community level through strengthening individual capitals and capacities.

James Dellow – Dragon Hall Trust:

The Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust was established in 2005 to provide a community facility in the heart of Covent Garden & Holborn, to serve the needs of local residents, local communities and the wider public. They offer a wide range of social, educational and recreational activities and events, developed and delivered in partnership with service users, to facilitate the needs and interests of diverse communities, with particular focus on those at risk from social exclusion and isolation (i.e. children, young people, older people, Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) and disability groups)

Yvonne Field – The Ubele initiative

The Ubele Initiative is a new social enterprise with a mission to contribute to the sustainability of the African Diaspora community. Through social leadership development, community enterprise and social action, we incubate projects across the UK. Ubele in Swahili means ‘The Future’. Established in 2014 as an inter-generational community building initiative Ubele aims to increase our community’s capacity to lead, and create innovative and entrepreneurial social responses to some of our most stuck social issues. We work in partnerships with organisations across the UK and internationally.

Our strategic objectives are: Building community resilience and sustainability; Knowledge Generation and Learning; Strategic Partnerships which influence policy and practice; Global Diaspora Connections.

Vivienne Hayes – Women’s Resource Centre

WRC is the leading national umbrella organisation for the women’s sector, working towards linking all aspects of the women’s movement. We support our members to be more effective and sustainable through training, and we lobby the government on their behalf on a range of women’s issues. Overall, we are working towards transformational and substantive equality for women.

Tracey Lazard – Inclusion London

Inclusion London’s mission is to promote Deaf and Disabled people’s equality and inclusion by supporting Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) in London and campaigning for rights for Deaf and Disabled people. We are the only pan –London disability rights and capacity building organisation, run by and for Deaf and Disabled people, in the city. Inclusion London currently provides a range of capacity building, policy and campaigns support to over 70 Deaf and Disabled Organisations working across every London borough. Through these organisations, our reach extends to over 76,000 Deaf and Disabled Londoners.

Islington Stop and Search Project with London Met students

Islington Stop and Search Monitoring Group (ISSMG) an arena for the local community to engage in discussion and debate on police use of stop and search, its outcomes and its impact. This Community Monitoring Group (CMG) is made up of volunteers of all ages from the Islington community. We monitor all local stop and search issues including numbers of stops, arrest rates, disproportionality and complaints. We also identify and share best practice with other CMGs, particularly through their membership of the Community Monitoring Network (CMN). The involvement of young people is essential on the development of this forward thinking group. All members of the community are invited to attend. London Met University students has worked on this project

Richard Lee – Just Space

Just Space is a community-led network of voluntary and action groups influencing London’s plan making and planning policy to ensure public debate on crucial issues of social justice and economic and environmental sustainability.. .At the heart of Just Space is a demand for the participation of all Londoners – including those under-represented or completely excluded -in the planning of the city. In 2016 Just Space produced “Towards a Community Led Plan for London” and in 2017 we are trying to open up spaces at City Hall so that community voices can be co-producers of the Mayor of London’s Strategies.

Mhairi McGhee – HEAR network

HEAR is a pan-equality network of London equality and human rights voluntary and community sector organisations. HEAR is connecting and supporting equalities specialists across all equality characteristics and across London to get their voices heard, and to influence policy and the environment within which people work for equality and human rights. We are doing this by acting as a strong and authoritative, regional pan-equalities voice and combined source of knowledge and expertise on issues pertinent to equality, impacting on the voluntary and community sector and its effectiveness. HEAR is currently funded by City Bridge Trust to support the engagement of London equality and human rights organisations in the Way Ahead. HEAR also has a Policy and Campaigns project funded by Trust for London, supporting London VCS organisations to work together on intersectional and pan-equality campaigns, for example on improving support for deaf and disabled refugees and asylum seekers and on hate crime.

Alison Navarro – Sutton CVS

Alison has a background in Community Development and has spent a number of years working for the voluntary sector, including as the Head of Community Investment at Community Links Bromley and currently as Chief Executive at Sutton Council for Voluntary Service. Alison leads the strategic development of SCVS while playing an active role in supporting Sutton’s voluntary sector.

Paula Peters – Disabled People Against Cuts

DPAC is about disabled people and their allies. DPAC is UK based but we know that disabled people in other countries are suffering from austerity cuts and a lack of fundamental rights. We welcome all to join us in fighting for justice and human rights for all disabled people. Disabled people should not be the scapegoats for the financial mistakes of governments, should not be constantly told that there is no money to support them by millionaire politicians. We will not tolerate further erosion of our living conditions or our human rights, nor will we sit quietly while they try to take our rights away. DPAC was formed by a group of disabled people after the 3rd October 2010 mass protests against cuts in Birmingham, England. The 3rd October saw the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people-It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest.

John Popham – Digital Storyteller

I use digital tools to tell the stories of people doing great work; and I help others to tell their own stories. Apparently, I am the 20th most influential person in digital inclusion in the world, as well as no.2 on the “Top 50 Digital #PowerPlayers14 in #ukhousing” and also no.2 on The Guardian’s list of top Digital Inclusion Tweeters. If you like what I do, and would like to help me take it further, please consider supporting me via Patreon

In the second decade of the 21st Century we all have the tools available to tell our stories. Smartphones and tablets can be used to communicate with the world. Increasingly, the tales people tell with such tools are drawing attention away from the established media of TV, radio, cinema and newspapers. And yet these benefits are vastly under-realised in the public and third sectors. Telling stories about the good works people do is extremely important, and yet it is not happening to any great extent in these sectors.

Sham Qayyum (Director) Council of Somali Organisations

The Council of Somali Organisations was launched in June 2011 as a second tier (or umbrella) agency, to provide infrastructure support to Somali led community organisations, and to provide a platform to address issues affecting the Somali community in London and at a regional and national level.

Sham is an Associate Senior Lecturer in Law and Leadership at SOAS, University of London. After reading Law LLB (obtaining a first class) he completed his Ph.D (Law) which examined how British Muslims as cultural surgeons are dealing with the accidents and diseases of multiculturalism. He specialises in ‘race’, culture, religion, and the law, Islamic law, immigration law, capacity building, leadership and management, and Equity and Trusts Law with special reference to practices offshore. Sham is also an experienced expert witness on issues related to Islamic law, with particular reference to South Asia. His academic work is informed by his activism

Sophia Roupakia – Migrants Rights Network

Migrants’ Rights Network is an innovative UK- based NGO working and campaigning for the rights of all migrants. Our work brings together migrant activists and support organisations, think tanks, academics, faith groups and public sector representatives to advocate for a rights-based approach towards migration in the UK. We also provide the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration. Launched in 2006, we have worked to create the foundations for a UK civil society movement in support of migrants, through building lobbying and campaigning, online and media work, public events and providing support to migrant community activism. We particularly promote the concerns of migrant groups creating space for them to voice their views and experiences.

Matt Scott LVSC

LVSC is the collaborative leader of London’s voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. Our Vision is of communities being at the centre of a fair and prosperous London. Our Mission is to champion and partner London’s communities through building the capability, sustainability and impact of the VCSE sector. More recently LVSC has been working on ‘The Way Ahead agenda

David Wilcox – Connecting Londoners

Connecting Londoners is an initiative for anyone interested in how people, projects and organisations can cooperate and collaborate better for social good. Connecting Londoners was based on a six month exploration, led by the London Voluntary Services Council (LVSC), into how to make London a more Networked City. We are keen to promote network thinking, self-organising and digital technology.

The Agenda:




         Aama Sade – Yoruba Prayer

         Welcome and purpose of the day

         Islington Stop and Search presentation

         Paula Peters – Disabled People Against Cuts

         Sophia Roupakia – Migrant Rights Network

         Mark Blake – Black Training and Enterprise Group


         1st Open Space session


         2nd Open Space session







         Shamsher Chohan – Communities Inc

         Malcolm Ball – Lewisham Young Mayors Adviser

         Sham Qayyum – Council of Somali Organisations


         3rd Open Space session




         Close and Networking


Key themes of the open space conversations:

Access to Justice

Bystanders and Hate Crime

Community Media

Community Assets and Spaces

Deaf and Disabled Mayors

Systems Thinking

Working with Universities


Notes on event:

#ourwayahead notes by Matthew Pugh