Amanda Burgauer – 28th October 2021
I thought it was time to give you an update from the core Common Weal team. Since I came onboard in February, we’ve been working internally and with supporter groups to identify what we’re doing well and where we can improve.
We’re proud of the policy work that’s been delivered this year, especially that which has been delivered by our expert working groups on Social Care and Energy. Harnessing the knowledge and expertise of professionals with outstanding knowledge and experience has allowed us to deliver papers that address the issues realistically and with a vision for what could be.
Common Weal didn’t set out to be your ordinary think tank… we want to both think and do! Policy papers shouldn’t sit on a shelf – they need to be adopted and that happens when they’re read widely and taken forward. Scotland does not lack challenges ahead – we know the struggles we will face in the next few years. Common Weal is not lost for ideas and proposals for how to tackle some of these challenges. Over the past months, we’ve been delighted that you, our supporters, have engaged with us through email, social media and at monthly National Zoom Meetings. We always welcome your feedback, even or perhaps especially when it’s pointing out what you don’t like!
But that isn’t enough, which is why we’re making some strategic changes.
Common Weal’s role in what is ahead is an important one. If not for our amazing Care Reform Group, who would be working on a visionary blueprint for a National Care Service? Scotland needs ideas and Common Weal has them, but ideas alone aren’t enough. So we’ve been wondering how can we create the reach and impact we need to make change happen? How do we spread our ‘All of Us First’ ideas and gain support for our policies?
We are incredibly grateful to our many donors but we simply don’t have the scale of resources that some of the organisations who oppose Common Weal ideas do. More than that, we never will. That means we need to be clever and creative about how we use the resources we have. Not all of those resources are cash in the bank. Common Weal is very lucky to have a large and really enthusiastic supporter base with a strong group of activists who help us and support our work. Those people and their skills give us an edge we would otherwise lack.
So we’ve been thinking about how we both encourage and support those who support us.
- Our Local Groups have taken Common Weal ideas and applied them in their local context. That means that there’s no one kind of local group – it depends on the needs and priorities of their local areas and we’re in awe of how much they’ve managed to deliver, from a focus on housing in Dundee to campaigning against incinerators in South Lanarkshire to discussions about income inequality in Glasgow – we appreciate all that they’ve accomplished and recognise that Common Weal needs to do more to support these and other new local groups.
- Our activists have run stalls at events, organised events and held street stalls to talk about Common Weal ideas. We commit to provide support to these groups with banners and merchandise and help.
- Other supporters have helped by providing their creative input or by working on our website or proofing papers and even books. We thank them all and promise to improve our engagement so that there’s clearer guidelines and support for those offering these skills for the common good.
- One of the things that we’ll be asking supporters and activists to do is show their support in their social media and our communications coordinator, Rory Hamilton, is ready to help, with guidance, support and useful pieces that you can use in your own social media spaces.
For most of this, if you aren’t feeling confident to dive right in, then don’t worry… we will help you get there. That’s why we’re hiring a new full-time Networks Coordinator to make this happen, someone who will support and inform our donors, local groups, supporters and volunteers. As a result we are about to advertise to recruit someone to that post. (We are also recruiting a Policy Coordinator to support our policy networks and take some of the weight off our policy team.)
Now we need you to help us make it real. So please keep in touch while we get staffed up, trained up and set up to deliver a new start for Common Weal’s supporters and a new era in the organisation’s strategy for bringing about that All Of Us First future we all so much want to see. 2022 is going to be a fun and busy year!
Amanda Burgauer is Interim Director of Common Weal and was appointed by the board in February 2021 to complete a strategic reorganisation of Common Weal.