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Connecting the dots to create change – reflections from the G7 Fringe

Mhairi Sharp


*Image – Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage is an incredible example of the change that grassroots groups can bring about

Last week I found myself in the very privileged position of participant at the G7 Fringe in Newquay.


It was a chance to step outside of the day job for a few days and put the work of the National Emergencies Trust – and the events of the last year – into perspective. To reflect on what we’ve learned through our first emergency appeal.


It was also a unique opportunity to learn from others who are galvanising local and global communities around critical issues; from climate change to vaccinations.


It was pretty humbling to sit on the ‘World Is Not Enough’ panel alongside UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, the Black Global Trust, Mother and YouTube – progressive organisations championing change on a global scale. These are organisations that, as our Chair Lord Dannatt put it: “Have a clear plan and are bringing people together to follow it through.”


But over the course of the Fringe, it was equally inspiring to hear from individual activists too.


Ground-breaking film-maker, Ali Tabrizi,and Hugo Tagholm from Surfers Against Sewage all spoke about turning their passions into positive action. By doing so in their own authentic ways, each has built incredible groundswells of grassroots support.


After a special screening of his Seaspiracy documentary, Ali noted that everyone can do something to make a difference to their community or a cause they care about. The key is to think about how they might apply their own unique skills and creativity to it.

*Image – Film-maker Ali Tabrizi answers audience questions post a world-first physical screening of his Seaspiracy documentary

The pervading theme of the Fringe was the need to better connect the dots now between all kinds of communities – corporates, the third sector, government, activists and the public – to make meaningful change happen.


Stephen Bediako from the Black Global Trust suggested leaders would do well to listen more to those not in positions of power, but who hold power to create change. While Rob Love from Crowdfunder spoke passionately about empowering the “G7-billion” as he termed them (the global population or thereabouts) to take small acts that add up to a big difference.

*Image – Myself and Rob Love from Crowdfunder had the chance to chat about collaboration during emergencies with the Gates Foundation

Of course, as Crowdfunder knows only too well, part of that empowerment is connecting grassroots change-makers with the funding they need to make their ideas a reality. And it really struck me what privilege it’s been to be able to do this with our Coronavirus Appeal.


By providing one trusted place to give during the pandemic, the Appeal brought together the public, corporates, trusts, foundations and government and raised nearly £100m for those in great need. That funding then made its way, fast, to grassroots change-makers in streets and villages all around the UK.


More than 13,000 projects were able to turn their passion to help into millions of small actions that made a difference to people’s lives. Phone calls to the isolated. Food shopping for the shielding. Safe spaces for those unsafe at home, or with no home to go to. You can find out more in our newly published Coronavirus Appeal report.


While the next national emergency we respond to is likely to be very different to the pandemic, we’ll continue to do our very best to bring together fundraisers, funders and change-makers to make a difference to people’s lives at speed.

Watch the World Is Not Enough Panel Event from the G7 Fringe below