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COVID, communities and change: what role for HE in the 'new normal' for the wider civic sector?
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Session Recording

Watch a recording of the session here, and tell us what you think on ‘the place space‘, our conference discussion board.

Session Details

Wednesday 19 May: 10:30 – 12:00

Join senior figures from the community sector who will address the question: how has COVID19 impacted on communities; how has the community / charity sector had to change in response; and how this has changed what is needed of the HE sector?

Session Hosts

<strong>Paul Manners</strong>
Paul Manners
Paul leads on the NCCPE’s policy work. He has 12 years’ experience of high level influencing and leadership of HE public engagement, and has built extensive networks across the sector. He advises a number of national organisations on learning and engagement, including the National Trust as the chair of their Advisory Group on Collections and Interpretation.
<strong>Emily Morrison</strong>
Emily Morrison
Emily is the Head of the Institute of Community Studies at The Young Foundation. She previously worked for the British Council where she developed the global research portfolio, spanning internationally comparative research into youth voice and policy, education, civil society, and culture. Emily has led and conducted research world-wide and previously held professional and academic positions at University College London and King’s College London

Session Speakers

<strong>Vidhya Alakeson</strong>
Vidhya Alakeson
Vidhya is the founding Chief Executive of Power to Change, an independent trust established in 2015 to support the growth of community businesses across England as a means to creating more prosperous and cohesive communities. To date, Power to Change has invested £80 million in the community business sector and supported over 1,300 community business through targeted grants and support programmes.

Vidhya has extensive policy experience, having worked in a number of think tanks and in government in both the UK and US. Prior to setting up Power to Change, Vidhya was Deputy Chief Executive at the Resolution Foundation, a leading public policy think tank working on issues that affect low and middle income families.

Vidhya is a board member of More in Common, a global initiative seeking to reduce polarisation in developed societies, and a trustee of the Young Foundation which aims to develop better connected and more sustainable communities across the UK. She regularly advises organisations, including local and national government, on the role of community business in promoting regeneration and writes and speaks regularly on issues relating to community-led development and inclusive growth

<strong>Karl Wilding</strong>
Karl Wilding
Karl is a UK-based social sector advisor, analyst and consultant with 20+ years’ experience of working with charities, government and the media. A former CEO and director of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), his work now focuses on better understanding trends and issues in the social sector and wider civil society, and helping organisations to respond to them. He’s worked extensively with the academic community, including as a REF panel member and as a co-investigator on research proposals looking at different aspects the voluntary sector and civil society.
Karl has taught on the City University Charity MSc, where he also helped establish the ESRC Centre for Giving and Philanthropy, and is currently teaching on the philanthropy MA at Kent University. He is currently a trustee of Communities 1st (which supports charities and volunteering in Hertfordshire) and a board member at Creating the Future, an US-based nonprofit. He has previously held board positions at Charity Bank and Charities Evaluation Services.
<strong>Farah Elahi</strong>
Farah Elahi
Farah is the Acting Head of Community Engagement at the Greater London Authority. She has led on the Civil Society Strategy at City Hall, with a focus on new methodologies for working in partnership with communities and work to develop civic capacity and strength. This includes projects such as Civic Futures, Civil Society Roots and the London Community Response Survey. Farah’s previous roles include Research and Policy Analyst at the Runnymede Trust and the Family and Childcare Trust. Published reports include a number of local Race Equality Scorecards and policy briefings, Islamophobia: Still a challenge for us all, and Ethnic Inequalities in London: Capital for All. Farah holds trusteeships with the Runnymede Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


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The inaugural Civic University Network conference is a free virtual event which will take place from the 18-20 May 2021.

Registration closed at 12:00 on Thursday 13 May 2021, but don’t worry, we plan to share recordings of the event and will update this page with the details soon.