Power, partnerships and equality

Our Equalities and Diversity lead, Rachel Cooling has written several blog posts documenting her time with the Emergencies Partnership. Below is her last one:

May 28·3 min read

I’ve been thinking about a lot about learning today. It’s my last day with the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership as their Equality Lead. I don’t know about you, but last days for me lead to moments of reflection…

I’ve got 2 young daughters and yes, they learn lots at school and from their teachers (I promise I’m not just saying that to please the school — they really do). My two daughters also learn lots from their friends, from creative play and from the environment around them.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

I feel the similar about my time with the Emergencies Partnership — though without the playing part (no skipping for me). I’ve certainly learnt from lots of insight — whether that is from our own Insight team and the data that they gather regularly from voluntary and community sector organisations; signing up to newsletters including The Ubele Initiative’s or research and reports including from Equally Ours. I’ve blogged plenty of times about the research we did on connecting with marginalised communities too.

I promise — I have good environmental credentials so unlike the photo below of a massive pile of research reports, mine are all on my computer….

Photo by Bernd Klutsch on Unsplash

All of this insight, reports, research are really important and help to build an evidence base. There is so much information out there demonstrating that the current pandemic has heightened and highlighted existing inequalities in society. At the Emergencies Partnership we know that we need to continue to engage and connect with groups and organisations that supporting communities which can be particularly impacted before, during and after emergencies.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Over the last 6 months, so much of my learning has come from people. That includes attending virtual events to listen and learn from those impacted by emergencies and the groups supporting and learning from experts in equality and human rights.

I’ve been lucky that my senior leadership team has let me test and learn in my role — trying out different approaches, some of which worked others not. Again — I think children can be good at taking risks and not being so afraid of doing so, the reason for another picture of a classroom with children testing things out. Celebrating diversity for me also means learning from a wide range of people, including my 7 and 9 year old daughters.

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

All of this got me thinking about power, partnerships and equality.

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash


I think recognition of power, power dynamics and trying to make these more equal is essential for partnerships to truly work — whoever that is — whether between different organisations or with people with lived experience impacted by emergencies. In my last couple of weeks we started to explore co-production more, which I think is a values based approach which can help with this.

My biggest learning from my experience at the Emergencies Partnership is: the importance of authenticity in a willingness to listen, learn and not make assumptions.

Here is to ongoing activism and the solidarity leading to positive changes that different people and organisations can have when they come together as equally valued contributors.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash



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