Interview with Michael Hughes from Community Foundation NI
Tell us a bit about yourself and/or your organisation.
Passionate in seeing the power of communities to create positive change for themselves by focussing on their assets and what is good in the area. I want to change the narrative especially around funding which looks at need, disadvantage and deficit and which then encourages a race to the bottom. Every community has a great story to tell, every community has its own assets starting with its people and I don’t know of any community which doesn’t want their place to be an even better place to live in. Starting from a point of what is good and how together we can make it even better is a much more dynamic and involved process.
How well have you/your organisation adapted to the pandemic?
Biggest adaptation has been the move to working from home. This in the main has been great as we had our systems more or less in place before we officially closed the office so this did not create any major problems. I do miss the face to face interaction with other members of staff and the wider community – nothing beats a community discussion than a cup of tea/coffee and a chocolate digestive biscuit across a table whether that is in the workspace, a community hall or in someone’s kitchen. We don’t envisage going back to having all the staff in the office at one time, I think it will be a hybrid model of 1/2 days in work staggered amongst the staff teams and the rest working from home.
I am not a great fan of framing the future in terms of need, I would rather talk about opportunities, assets and the plenty. For me the biggest challenge therefore is reframing our engrained narrative where our starting points are low when they should be high with great ambition to be even better. If we have enough support from the sector and in particular funders to change this narrative the will challenge many groups to think differently, engage more and become truly representative of the communities they work in and for.