CEO Blog: Media Trust’s view of the Government’s new Civil Society Strategy

Posted 17 August 2018

Media Trust's Chief Executive Su-Mei Thompson shares her thoughts on the Government's new Civil Society Strategy.

At Media Trust, we believe that giving young people and under-represented groups a stronger voice is critical to achieving greater social cohesion in 21st Century Britain.

So we were heartened to read the Government’s vision for the sector, published in its civil society strategy document last week. Its emphasis goes to the heart of our work and we wholly endorse its conclusion that social value flows from thriving communities.

Five pillars

The five pillars of the Government’s strategy strongly resonate with Media Trust’s priorities. They are:

People: putting people in charge and providing opportunities for young people, enabling a lifetime of contribution.

Place: promoting inclusion, empowerment and investment in local communities.

Social sector: supporting charities and social enterprises, including helping the sector to be more confident with digital, to strengthen the voice of civil society.

Public sector: a framework for collaborative commissioning.

Private sector: promoting business, finance and tech for good.

Meanwhile, at Media Trust we are working to leverage the power of media to build a brighter future for under-represented communities and young people.

Capacity-building for non-profits

Our new Digital Skills for Charities programme, supported by Google Digital Garage, is helping charities and community organisations across the UK use digital technology to enhance their impact.

Our Stronger Voices programme supported by City Bridge Trust is developing media and communications skills for 30 equalities organisations, strengthening the voice of civil society in this hot-button sector.

Our new UK-wide programme of digital skills training, delivered through local masterclasses, mentoring and online learning aims to strengthen the digital skills of UK non-profits.

Youth, diversity and the media industry

Our youth programmes including Breaking into News, Transforming Hidden Talent, Vlogstar Challenge and Creativity Works Multimedia Genius Training are all about giving young people from diverse backgrounds a stronger voice while helping them to access jobs in the media sector.

Skills-based volunteering

Our 24-year old mission to bridge the gap between the media sector and broader society through facilitating skills-based volunteering – matching good skills with good causes – is a proven model of the Government’s ambition to develop partnerships with business on social challenges.

Being heard

The Civil Society Strategy encourages our efforts to enable greater participatory democracy. We will do this by ensuring the views of local communities outside London and the South-East are being heard by policymakers in Westminster.

Equally, young people are mainly engaging in political debate in a parallel universe to the mainstream media, meaning their views often go unheard by policymakers. Media Trust will shortly announce exciting new programmes that will empower these hidden young leaders – watch this space!

Where we think the Government could have gone further is to insist on greater co-investment and collaboration...

Working together

Where we think the Government could have gone further is to insist on greater co-investment and collaboration on research, advocacy and impact evaluation among charities working on the same issue. This would allow for more joined-up messaging, less fragmentation of voice, a more macro view of programmes and their impact, and reduced duplication of effort and resources. Funders also have an important vital role to play in influencing greater collaboration.

Media Trust is determined to try and prove the model that coalition-backed research, campaigning and impact assessment is a win-win for all concerned. Again, watch this space!

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to working more closely with you on this vital agenda to improve social cohesion in 21stcentury Britain.


Su-Mei Thompson


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