Voice4Change England held its Annual General Meeting on Thursday June 8, 2023 at Resource for London.
Open to members, grantees and guests to attend in-person and online, the meeting was interactive, insightful and engaging.
The evening kicked off with opening comments from Chair, Neena Samota, who said the meeting was to consider the sheer range of work covered in the 2021-2022 period.
According to her “a lot of work went on for which I really must give my heartfelt thanks to colleagues who worked hard under Kunle’s leadership and the board of Trustees who have played an overly active role too.”
Following her announcement of an expression of interest to join the board, Andy Bregg was introduced and since there was no opposition, duly accepted to join the board of Trustees.
Andy who was most recently CEO at Race on the Agenda described it as a “great honour” before going on to describe Voice4Change England as “a really key umbrella group for the activities of racial equality organisations.”
Neema in welcoming Andy Bregg, formally, to the board charged him to “help us shape the future of Voice4Change since you are familiar with our work and we will benefit from your vast experience and advocacy.”
In his comments, Director, Kunle Olulode, spoke about the “health impact of Covid-19 and how many organisations and communities in the Black and Minoritised part of the sector have been able to address the emergency and the crisis that impacted us.”
He also shared that Voice4Change in turning “from a recipient of grants into a grant provider has transformed the organization.”
The audience listened to presentations from Sharmin Shajahan and Jana Kovariova of the Development and Grants team who presented the Covid-19 impact report; Dilys Winterkorn who shared insights on the setting up of, vision and plans for Pathway Fund and Kunle Olulode whose presentation centered on Voice4Change’s work in creating VoterID awareness for the May elections and others.
Kicking off their presentation, Sharmin Shajahan noted that the Covid-19 pandemic “disproportionately impacted the black and minoritised ethnic communities due to pre-existing inequalities.”
The Grants team then went ahead to speak about the need for, reach and impact of the Covid 19 Partnership Fund and the work it has done through the £1.1m provided by Indigo Trust, Comic Relief, Sport England, MIND and National Lottery Community Fund which went to addressing and redressing the effect of Covid-19.
839 applications were received from 2 application rounds from across nine regions even though the bulk came from London.
They also spoke on the ongoing work by Voice4Change England in collaboration with School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), and funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The three-year VCSE Contract Readiness Programme is designed to help social enterprises and charities get ready to win public sector contracts, and diversify government supply chains.
Looking ahead, the Development and Grants team will prioritise capacity building and development support based on identified areas of needs. The capacity building workshops have already commenced and Black and Minoritised organisations and communities are advised to become members in order to take advantage of the benefits available to members of Voice4Change England.
V4CE auditor, Ila Chandavarkar presented the annual report and harped on the need for more funds and funders to facilitate the good work at Voice4Change-England and helping them recover their costs especially with funders remaining very project-based in their approach.
In her presentation, Dilys Winterkorn spoke about the imperative of Pathway Fund as the first Black and Minoritised-led 6wholesaler focused on catalyzing opportunities for BM-led enterprises, why it is needed and the entities behind its emergence.
Dilys noted that Pathway Fund hopes to achieve its vision and objectives by paying attention to three focus areas – Enterprise Development, Assets Acquisition and Learning and Influence.
Referencing the Adebowale Commission, she informed her audience that the report emphasised the need for a BM-led wholesaler like Pathway Fund which will help BM-led enterprises address barriers that include lack of awareness of available funding, negative perception/negative previous experience in accessing funding and confidence in dealing with a BM-led organization.
The Pathway Fund was set up in a partnership between Voice4Change England, Black Global Trust, and The Social Investment Consultancy. The three co-founders are Stephen Bediako, Bonnie Chiu and Kunle Olulode.
In his comments, Kunle Olulode described the insistence on VoterID as the biggest change to the electoral process in over 100 years. He noted that the outrage seemed muted because the May 2023 elections were held in the regions.
Kunle shared on the awareness creation work done by Voice4Change-England with funding from the Greater London Authority noting that despite Voice4Change’s opposition to the VoterID legislation, the organisation worked hard to provide members of the Black and Minoritised communities with the knowledge to ensure their votes count by striving to equip them with information via literature, workshops, and promotional videos especially with regard to considering the Free Voter Authority Certificate which were issued by local authority/borough councils electoral services.
The evening ended with refreshments and networking.