The Critical Social Policy event, which was held in Salford on June 30th, offered us a chance to reflect on how the money from their Solidarity Fund has enabled WODIN and 26 other organisations to flourish post-COVID.
At the Critical Social Policy (CSP) event in Salford, which we attended in June, we had the opportunity to connect and network with like-minded activist voluntary organisations, all of whom were supported by the Critical Social Policy Solidarity Fund.
WODIN was one of several activist organisations to gather at Salford’s People’s History Museum for this inspiring day of discussion and celebration. We were represented by our steering committee member Mrs. Rosemary Ojukwu, community activist and programs beneficiary Mrs. Veronica Akpagheneta, and our projects lead and CEO Sylvia Kalungi.
We were privileged to meet some of the amazing minds behind the Solidarity Fund, which included the founder, Mr. Norman; event organiser and host, Dr. Suryia Nanak; Alistair; Joe; Ms. Guru, Jenna Allsop, and many others.
Critical Social Policy is a highly ranked, peer-reviewed journal/resource that provides an international forum for activism, advocacy, analysis, and debate on social policy issues. Its goal is to develop an understanding of welfare from socialist, feminist, anti-racist, and radical perspectives.
Veronica was lucky to receive an autographed copy of the CSP book/resource from the founder himself, Norman. All issues of the CSP Journal can be accessed here.
What we learned from the other Critical Social policy-funded activists
The aim of this event was to meet, greet, and learn from other CSP funded organisations, groups, and people. We wanted to understand how the support of the Solidarity Fund circa 2021/22 has impacted our communities.
The WODIN team met and reconnected with our sister organisation, Support and Action Women’s Network (SAWN). Their Sisters of the Yam Choir entertained us and had us dancing and singing along with joy. That truly broke the ice at the start of the event, and in the afternoon, it raised our energy after a truly filling lunch.
We heard from the other activist organisations about what they do, what they did with the CSP funding, and the impact that funding had on their organisations and communities. All the groups are doing such amazing work, it made one start to think about how much more we can all do!
So much so, that our committee member Rosemary stated: “WODIN truly is doing great, BUT we can do more.”
The other organisations represented were:
In the morning session we heard from each of the above organisations about the impact of the CSP Solidarity Fund on the communities that they serve. The impact is truly amazing.
In the afternoon, the whole room split into four groups and we held roundtable discussions surrounding either “visibility and dissemination”, or “leaning into each other and building solidarity”.
Then we shared our findings and discussed how we can work together going forward with the CSP and with each other.
How the CSP Solidarity Fund has impacted WODIN and the communities we serve
Women and Digital Inclusion (WODIN) was one of the recipients of a £5000 CSP Solidarity Fund for our Digi-Thrive Project. This project was aimed at creating a digital community for Black migrant women to learn, to just be, and to connect. We wanted to reduce the isolation and sheer loneliness caused by COVID-19 and the global lockdowns.
This funding came at an opportune moment for WODIN. While we weren’t new on the community groups plane, we were new on the CIC plane, and thus we were not as familiar with the project bid writing process as other, longer-standing organisations.
We were thus truly appreciative of the simplicity of the application process and simple criteria for this funding. We applied in September 2021. Fast forward to January 2022, and we received the funding.
With this funding in place, we realised how enormous the task we were taking on was. We looked for match funding and/or complimentary projects to build on the success of Digi-Thrive. This is how we attracted the LCVS Tafuta Project funding of £7500. So together with the CSP funding, Digi-Thrive morphed into the Tafuta Project. In addition to creating a safe space where Black migrant women could be, meet, and learn digital skills, we carried out a Feasibility Social Impact Study on “Black Women, Digital Poverty, and Employment Lived Experiences in the UK” which can be downloaded here.
These two projects opened our minds to the fact that a lot of Black women have experiences that need to be documented. We each are part of a culture that our children, in some cases, do not know a lot about, and thus that culture could be lost, especially as elderly members of Black communities were massively affected by COVID-19 and many died. We had to do something.
This empowered WODIN leadership to approach TNL Heritage Fund, which manifested into the Somo Sisters Oral History Record Project fund of £38,009.
The Somo Sisters Project was very successful. We recorded eleven stories from eleven different Black cultures, which were then archived in the UK Records Office at the Liverpool Central Library.
While recording the stories, we realised the richness of the message and the fact that not everyone — including the communities we left in the motherlands — could access the Oral History Record in the UK. Yet, a lot of the world can access a book. This gave birth to the Somo Sisters core participants publishing a book titled Somo Sisters Tapestry, which became a bestseller pre-launch and can be accessed on Amazon.
This book was 100% funded by WODIN leadership committee and volunteers. And it would not have been done without the original support from the CSP Solidarity Fund and the domino effect of the Tafuta and Somo Sisters projects.
Why are we sharing this?
Three main reasons:
- To impress upon any new grassroots activist organisations, especially those serving minoritised communities, to keep pushing until they can affect change.
- To share WODIN’s gratitude to Critical Social Policy for keeping it simple and allowing small organisations to access life-changing funding at a time when the whole world was melting down. Their support enabled us to deliver two more hugely impactful projects for our community, in total positively impacting over 50 black migrant women, not counting the thousands who have tuned in to the stories, those who have read the impact report, and those who have read the Somo Sisters Tapestry book. .
- To request CSP to carry on and consolidate the good work commenced by the first Solidarity Fund. Seeds have been sown, they’ve taken root, and they can either dry out and die or they can be watered, nurtured and grow into truly impactful programs. This can be done by further resourcing in the form of more funding, and non-cash support to the previously funded organisations, now and in the future, as the CSP activists/experiential community grows.
As Dr. Suryia Nanak stated at the event: “There is no macro without the micro. We are all stronger together!”
In conclusion, the first Critical Social Policy communities conference was a massive success. It was a peer-to-peer learning journey for organisations and individuals interested in addressing systemic challenges in order to create stronger, more sustainable communities.
We believe that all of us must build on the work started by the support of the CSP Solidarity Fund, especially in the face of the current cost of living crisis and inflation. WODIN is excited to be around other organisations that share our interest in social policy and creating a movement of grassroots activism. It does, indeed, take a village to raise a thriving economy.
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