Welcome to Leadership Worth Sharing, a podcast in which ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning talks to civil society CEOs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.
In the last episode of 2021, Vicky Browning speaks to Yvonne Field, chief executive of Ubele Initiative, the social enterprise supporting the sustainability of the African Diaspora community. They talk about the similarity and differences of leading community activism in the 80s and today, those cataclysmic moments that inspire change, and how the next generation of leaders will continue the fight for social justice.
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I think that what Black Lives Matter did was just allow those conversations really to come to the fore. But those conversations which preceded COVID, would happen (…) in the toilets of organisations, they would happen around the photocopier, they would happen in coffee rooms, and so on, and so forth. So those conversations were happening. All these, all over, all these years and decades. (…) Black Lives Matter has given licence to those conversations really to be challenging, to be put on the table and say, this is what it is. I don’t think that future generations who were not part of this movement, I don’t think they’re going to be allowed to forget those, because we don’t forget Winnie Mandela and Rosa Parks.Yvonne Field
Vicky Browning 00:00
Hi, I’m Vicky Browning chief executive of ACEVO, the network for charity and civil society leaders. Welcome to Leadership worth sharing, a podcast in which I talk to civil society chief execs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.
In the last episode of 2021, I speak to Yvonne Field, chief executive of Ubele Initiative, the social enterprise supporting the sustainability of the African Diaspora community. We talk about the similarity and differences of leading community activism in the 80s and today, those cataclysmic moments that inspire change, and how the next generation of leaders will continue the fight for social justice.
Welcome, Yvonne, lovely to have you with us today. How are you?
Yvonne Field 00:04
I’m good. Thank you. And thank you for inviting me to participate in this podcast.
Vicky Browning 00:08
It’s a great pleasure. Just tell me a little bit about Ubele. What inspired you to start it up, what does it do? And what do you do in it?
Yvonne Field 00:17
Okay, so Ubele, which is taken from Swahili to mean the future was, came out of a series of conversations with black communities. We, I started asking a question about the Windrush generation really, and the fact that when my parents, both now passed away, came in the 50s, that their intention amongst, and along with other, many other migrants from the Caribbean, and Africa at the time, was to stay for five years. But in fact, it felt like, well, they actually stayed, my mother stayed for, when she passed away I have been here 55 years. So it felt like we needed to think again, about our long term sustainability in this country, we weren’t going home, this was home to a number of generations now. And it felt that we needed to have a conversation about, you know, what’s the work we need to do to ensure that we’re going to be here for the next 50, 60, 100 years in the UK. So I just kind of had open dialogue sessions with anybodywho would come and have tea and biscuits and wanted interesting conversations about that. And so over a period of three years, those conversations started morphing into some themes that were emerging, those were around leadership, the need for new, you know, younger leadership in our communities. We were hearing stories under austerity, about loss of community spaces, and assets. And we began to think about a new model really, that was needed to make our communities more sustainable. My professional background of more than 40 years is community development and youth work and Adult Learning Community Education. So the people that I was meeting with were those were involved deeply in communities. And Ubele, although we’re now national, and we do infrastructure support, and we are a social enterprise, actually, we are still very much rooted in communities, because many of u, the founders really of Ubele, and I’m the kind of one of the main founders, but there are others who’ve been within those conversations since 2010/11. We were all trained in community development. So we very much want to and have been connected to communities for several decades. And even some of the younger people who’ve worked with us have been trained professionally in community development, as well at Goldsmiths and other universities around the country.
Vicky Browning 02:30
So you talk about leadership being one of the main objectives of the foundation. And obviously, ACEVO, we are a network of leaders within civil society. What are you seeing in terms of young leaders coming through in the different communities that you work with? Is there any difference in in the way the next generation is taking leadership on, that you’ve seen?
Yvonne Field 02:54
I think there’s some similarities in the sense that as young leaders back in the 80s, we were very fierce, we were involved in anti racist campaign. So it’s really great to see the energy and the challenge of the system that younger leaders from black and minoritised communities are presenting. I think with the… some of the main differences are that obviously we have social media, which means that messaging can be much more immediate, and people can be mobilised much more quickly. Back in the day, we had to produce flyers and leaflets using, you know, horrible inks and things, and then if you were lucky photo copiers, and you had to find ways of posting things out and distributing them. So it meant it was much, you know, you had to plan ahead months in advance to actually campaign and react and so on. Although you would find actually people didn’t have mobile phones, but we did have landlines, people would phone it was very expensive back in the day, but they would connect with people to get to get people mobilised on demonstrations. We demonstrated, we did petitions, again, it was not, you know, through change.org, or some of the other online platforms. But we were able to do that. So I think the scale and the quickness of mobilisation is different. The language that’s used is different, we still talk about anti racism. So that’s good. But there’s the ways in which we describe ourselves in the 70s and 80s, around black, as being black people, regardless of ethnic origin, because we actually use black as a political term. And now we’re aware that younger people use terms like people of colour, black and brown, black or minoritized communities and so on. So language has changed to some, to considerable extent. Again, in terms of some of the similarities I think that younger leaders are working with, you know, that they are still very much about social justice, racial justice, inclusion, areas that we were working around and trying to challenge. I think that one of the differences that there’s much more focus on self care which is really important, and mental health and well being because we recognise this work takes a lot out of you. And I think that as older leaders, we were kind of taught as younger leaders to just get on with it. And not to talk about how, what the personal impact is on ourselves or was on ourselves, you just sort of hear people having almost literally fallen by the wayside, because of the strains and stresses of the work and dealing with, you know, really, at the sharp end of the wedge. However, I think that younger leaders are much more mindful of caring for themselves and for each other. And if you say you can’t, because actually, you’re feeling burnt out, or you’re feeling a bit stressed, or you’re feeling you’ve given enough, you know, I really like getting emails back from younger leaders saying, we will get back to you in time, you know, either taken a bit of time out, or, you know, and it’s like, yeah, it’s really okay to put it out there that actually, you’re doing this work and recognising how challenging it is, and that you can’t just continue, regardless of how you’re actually feeling. Because that effects, you know, impacts on your on yourself and on the quality of the work that you can do. So I really like that.
Vicky Browning 06:01
And it doesn’t diminish the sense of urgency or importance, what they’re trying to do. It’s just within doing in a kinder of way to themselves I guess.
Yvonne Field 06:10
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and recognising that, yeah, this work is really challenging. You know, you have to dig deep, both psychologically, physically, you know, that you don’t have you know, you’re doing it often on top of your day job. I mean, for myself with Ubele, I only gave up my academic teaching work, which I did two days a week for six years at Goldsmiths, I only gave that up last year, October. So actually, it’s a year ago I gave it up, and that one, and so certainly, you know, the way that our work has really taken off in the last year and a half, two years, it meant that from sort of March last year till October, I was managing, you know, this real growth spurt and shoot demand, increased demand on Ubele, whilst also managing to support students who are trying to come to terms with online teaching, we were trying to deal with new technology, it was just a really, you know, difficult space to be in whilst being kind of having to step into Ubele leadership. So yeah, most, a lot of this work has been on top of the paid job, because it we couldn’t, you know, live on, you know, the sort of way in which our organisations were being resourced.
Vicky Browning 07:22
The sudden growth that you just mentioned that in terms of Ubele, that’s to do with funding around the sort of civil society roots programme? Which is about delivering equality across London. Is that where that kind of came from? Or was it connected into COVID and supporting communities through the pandemic? Where did that come from?
Yvonne Field 07:41
I mean, we actually built to Ubele between 2014, when we were registered, officially. We were registered in 2014, but in terms of kind of our growth, we always said that we would be an international organisation because we’re Diaspora people, from diaspora, communities. So we actually found a root to kind of get income through Erasmus European funding, which no longer exists now. I mean, we’re still delivering some significant programmes. But from 2015 to 2019/2020, actually, we built a significant portfolio of, of capacity building programmes taking black and minoritised community leaders to parts of mainland Europe to introduce them some of the creative tools, and methodologies like Appreciative Leadership, Action Learning, World Cafe, all of those programmes. So actually, in November 2019, we knew that we were going to be very busy, because we just secured almost half a million euros for a two year Erasmus programme. So that happened. And then in January 2020, we applied for the civil society roots programme with the GLA, we applied to develop community spaces, because that’s been our core mission around new, you know, renewing and trying to help those community spaces that were really iconic or legacy spaces that have been given to our communities in the 80s. So we applied to the civil society roots programme, to actually work with 12 spaces in London. And we applied in January, we’ve got that in February, and then COVID hit in March. So as a result of COVID hitting in March, we had to drop those plans and pivot priorities and actually provide support to the black and minoritized communities sector in London because of the impact of COVID. Now, we didn’t know what that would lead to, because we just had to respond. And what we found was that there hadn’t been a supported sector for our communities in London for 10 years. There have been no funding into the sector. So when COVID hit, there was a huge gap. And so we had to step into that gap. And we did the research and national research about what was going to happen to the sector under COVID. And then we started collaborating with a London Community Response Fund to try and get money out to the sector. And they gave us some additional money to help us do that: provide webinars and newsletters and one to one support and research and so on. So the civil society roots fund was a sort of catalyst for us to be kind of pushed centre stage in London. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t supposed to be for the work we ended up doing, because we didn’t foresee COVID happening.
Vicky Browning 10:29
And so does that mean that going forward, you, you’re going to continue on that route that you’ve pivoted onto, because you’ve kind of now been established or recognised as a as basically infrastructure for black and minoritised communities and, and delivering for those communities. Is that something you want to continue doing as an organisation? Or are you going to kind of pivot back to the direction you’re heading in before?
Yvonne Field 10:53
So we’re going to do a bit of both actually, because we know what we’ve identified, obviously, through the work that we’ve done in the last year and a half or so is that there is a huge need, and there is the gap, and that we and others can continue to kind of support that gap. However, what we’ve flagged up to the GLA and to London funders, that there is a need for a few things. There’s a need for strategic level conversation for London, about what does infrastructure support look like? And what are the needs for our sector, because I’ve not had that conversation for years, and what’s currently being delivered and what’s being planned. So that we can see ourselves because there are a number of organisations in the space, although I said they weren’t funded, I mean, like Voice4Change, and Race on the Agenda and BTEC, and so on. But they weren’t funded for the work, even though they were doing some of it, but it was, you know, invariably, it was, you know, kind of quite patchy, because they didn’t have support for it. So I think there’s a need for a London wide conversation to come up with a five year strategy for the sector. And then we can see who the different stakeholders are that will deliver around that. And that, hopefully, we’ll get some support to do that and to try and convene those kinds of spaces for those conversations and strategic planning processes. And then we also… because we have our own community space, and we’ve done a lot of work with organisations around community spaces over the past five years, we also will continue to deliver on that. So we have, we’re stewards of a three and a half acre site in WoodGreen, called Wolves Lane Centre. It’s a food growing and community development and enterprise site and it’s amazing. It’s got, it’s a bit like a rustic Kew Gardens, we’ve got a farmhouse and a cactus house and huge glass houses and terrapins and fish and all sorts of things, and a cafe. It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. And so we are one of the three organisation consortia that just secured 2.44 million pounds lottery and GLA funding for capital and revenue investment. And also, we’ve been working for the past three years in one of the legacy sites in Brixton that was given to the black community after the uprising 40 years ago this year. And that’s actually both Wolves Lane, but certainly also Brixton is where we can demonstrate this need to develop the next generation of leaders, a sustainable model, because that building is grade two listed houses knocked into one with a huge, huge piece of land at the back. That’s, that’s really quite dilapidated. And there’s a couple of groups that have been there for a long time in the centre. But what we’ve been asked to do by Lambeth Council and the groups over the last few years is to come and develop the groups and to begin to shape a plan for a new centre. We’re going to hopefully, over the next few years get investment to extend it and to bring in new services and shape the governance and so on. So we so we’re not losing sight of our original mission, anything but. We did a piece of research, which really is our foundational research around the assets and leadership work called a place to call home. Locality supported us to do that back in 2015. And that’s where when out of those conversations, we did the research. We did some testing of that work actually in Manchester and London around some community sites. And then we’ve ended up with being a steward of one and also very much leading from the fund in the one in Brixton as well. So, but we also recognise we need to also give support to other organisations. We see ourselves as a catalyst organisation, because we also incubate in the communities we’ve got incubation projects. At Wolves Lane, we’ve got a project called black roots, our OOTZ, which is the first black led growing enterprise, food grown enterprise that will bring food to markets. So we try to do things that are a little bit different that are not being done by other organisations, because of our commitment to communities and developing communities. As well as recognising that we were able to give support and the need for support to other groups to help them thrive. So we’re a bit of a hybrid organisation, or as I’d say, catalyst.
Vicky Browning 15:05
Yeah, yeah. You were just talking about funding there. And, you know, the fact you had to get your funding into supportive communities during COVID. And obviously, the pandemic had a disproportionate effect on people from black and minority ethnic communities. And, and within that there was a recognition. I know that because I sit on the advisory board for the National Lottery, and there was that recognition that they needed to ring fence money for those communities. And you mentioned the fact you know, that for 10 years, there hadn’t been that kind of funding. And that I think, was that was kind of really crucial that recognition was there and that did happen. Do you see that continuing? Is that the dawn of a realisation? That that has to continue, as those grants are not just for COVID, they’re for life. Paraphrasing from another charity’s slogan. Does that give you kind of hope that the money will will come into these communities that have been missing them so much?
Yvonne Field 16:00
Yeah. So one of the things that we started under COVID is the development of the… well, we were involved a number of funding initiatives, but we’d never been involved in ever before, to app design, and then to go out and make. Yeah, so with power to change as our strategic partner. And with London Community Response Fund, we were around the table designing and, and making decisions around funding for the various ways and influencing that the funders there, but also a significant piece of work that we did, and now, which will now have a long, much longer term impact is around the development of what started off as a Phoenix Fund, which was lottery money. 2.4 million went into emergency funding for black and minoritized communities. And I was fortunate to be a convener really with Global Fund for children who were the grant managers to convene a national leadership group that developed collaborative funding models using panels. And out of that initiative, which we received over 1400 applications, we could only fund about 180/85, just over 10%. So demand was huge. But what we managed to do was with support of lottery staff, in particular, someone who’s now moved on to another job, but a guy called Shane Ryan, one of system directors at the time, we were able then to secure an investment of 50 million over five years to develop something called the Phoenix way. And it’s still very much in the design stage. But it’s again, it’s building on the model from the Phoenix fund, it will include funding, but also the kind of bigger and deeper intention is to facilitate transformational change in the funding sector, both in the lottery, Youth Endowment Fund have also committed to putting 10 million in so at the moment we’ve got 60 million investment in the Phoenix way. And we’ve got workstreams around learning and leadership and funding and capacity building and evaluation and innovation and so on. So, that hopefully, plus work that we’ve done, we produce a Booska papers, in April, which is a set of papers, which really challenged the funding sector, we have nine calls to action. And we will be doing work going forward to make sure that we can continue that those conversations with funders about the ways in which we want a more equitable outcome for funding decisions for our communities. And then there are a whole raft of other organisations like resourcing racial justice, and like some of the organizations have been involved in Comic Relief funding etc, etc, who also been not just delivering funding to the communities, but also are continuing that that journey, you know, at a strategic level, to ensure that we don’t go back to the position that we were in pre COVID. So that’s a very long answer to your question, which is yes. Yeah, you know, we cannot, we cannot go back to where we were two years ago. And I think the ways in which we’re mobilising and organising and strategizing, we know that transformational change is difficult. It’s long, it’s hard. It doesn’t happen overnight. But I think we’re kind of gathering and organising in ways that means that yeah, at least I would hope in my lifetime and beyond that, that we can see that there’s some significant shift in the system.
Vicky Browning 19:24
You did a an interview, which I saw in a magazine, social enterprise magazine called Pioneers Post. One of the things you said in that, which I think is particularly relevant to this is that in order to have change, you have to have friction. We think not just friction, but abrasion, we need bravery. We need people to stand up and be counted. And in a way there has been, you know, some kind of not even just friction, but kind of explosive change like COVID, Black Lives Matter movement, those kind of really kind of significant incidents or changes have accelerated or made transformation more possible. Do you think in terms of the kind of BLM Movement, that again, those are long lasting? Are we seeing people standing up and being counted and being allies and the sector building on that kind of moment of friction and abrasion to keep the transformation happening? Or is it not going far fast enough?
Yvonne Field 20:29
You know, as you were talking Vicky, I just sort of was transported back to some of the influences, political moments and eras and incidents that were kind of what cataclysmic when I was younger, that kind of pre political activism, but also when I got involved as a political activist, young social justice activist, and I was just thinking about, yeah, so you know, what influenced us at that time, which we can still talk about, and kind of, you can almost touch those moments, even if you weren’t involved in them directly, because either you weren’t even born or you, you know… But when I think about just, you know, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Alice Walkers, some of the women that have been involved in those political movements, both here and in the States and other parts of the world, you know, we think about women in South Africa. And so I just think that actually, those moments that really touch, in fact, if they touch a wall of nerve, in humanity. Yeah. I think that black lives matter did that very same thing. And it was an awakening for the world. You know, and I think that what we’d had in the last 20 years, and again, I’ve been involved in equality issues, and all sorts of things all my life, we had a shift, which made it more palatable, more acceptable, predominately to white people, that we had equal opportunity, diversity training, conscious and unconscious bias training, all sorts of things. And, and it was like, it all got a bit watered down. We think. I think. It felt like yeah, this… We knew… but actually what was happening, there was other conversations happening in other spheres. And we knew, I knew, and colleagues and people that I’ve kind of in older black movements, black LED movements and organisations, there was a counter narrative happening. And I think that what Black Lives Matter did was just allow those conversations really to come to the fore. They weren’t, you know, I know we were at home. But those conversations which preceded COVID, would happen around… in the toilets of organisations, they would happen around the photocopier, when we had photo copiers, they would happen in coffee rooms, and so on, and so forth. So those conversations were happening. All these, all over, all these years and decades. But actually, it felt that Black Lives Matter has given licence to those conversations really to be, you know, challenging, to be put on the table and say, this is what it is. And I don’t think, I don’t think that future generations who were not part of this movement, I don’t think they’re going to be allowed to forget those, because we don’t forget Winnie Mandela and Rosa Parks and, and, you know, women whose shoulders, who are local heroes in London, for example, I don’t forget those women, I talk about them to my daughter and to my nieces and nephews who are involved in activism. So I think that the, the impact will be felt for generations to come. Now. It’s a watershed moment, it’s a watershed. And you know, when you get to those fulcrum moments, you can’t turn the clock back and just… It’s a reset button. But it’s not about resetting it back to where it was. Yeah, I think that’s what this moment has generated, really.
Vicky Browning 23:50
And I think it’s really interesting about where those conversations were happening. I think that, it feels a bit, if you’re thinking about, you know, they were happening in the coffee rooms and in the, you know, water cooler, and… but now they’re happening in the boardroom. And I think that’s to me, that’s the difference.
Yvonne Field 24:05
Vicky Browning 24:05
That those conversations are happening at an organisational level where there is a recognition that change has to happen, and now being visibly had, you know, people are listening and looking. And so you can’t just kind of sweep it away.
Yvonne Field 24:20
Yeah. And just to say on that, you know, one of the one of you know, one of the tools that we use in the work which a lot of people use is open space, an Open Space Technology, and that came out of a recognition that the real conversations were being had by the photocopiers or in the spaces, in conferences between the formal sessions. And recognising that actually those informal person led spaces is where the real work happens. So yeah, I know, I could think about particularly when I worked at local government or worked in organisations that ar white-led, you go in the toilet, you bump into somebody, that’s when you really get to know what’s going on in the organisation. Yeah, it’s definitely not, you know, around the table at the formal meetings, people often felt, you know, quite fearful to speak up and speak out. But yeah, as you said, now it’s yeah, it’s a boardroom.
Vicky Browning 25:11
You’ve been running or you’ve been, you know, working with Ubele and others, to take that forward for about 14 years, you did that alongside your academic career. When I look at your career history, what you’ve done, you’ve done everything, you know, you’re a change agent, you’re a social entrepreneur, you talk about strategy, you’re a powerful campaigner. You’ve talked about the younger leaders looking after themselves, and how do you keep yourself motivated and energised? Where does all that come from, that boundless energy? How do you fuel it?
Yvonne Field 25:45
Well, first of all, I’ve got nine siblings. I’m the youngest daughter of, I got three sisters, and I’m the youngest of the girls. And then I’ve got six brothers. So you learn, having had 10 siblings, nine siblings, sorry. And also my, my parents were foster parents. So you learn to kind of find your voice in amongst all of that. I mean, there’s a huge age gap between the youngest and the eldest. However, I also come, my family are also entrepreneurs. And so we were always encouraged, although I’m in the, I’m the one in social space, community development and actually Social Work trained, I’ve got a sort of jewel, professional background. But we were always encouraged to take risks, to work hard, that’s an immigrant, immigrant sort of, kind of attitude as well. But also to try lots of different things. I mean, I did all sorts of things when I was growing up in terms of dancing, girl guides, I was involved in all sorts of things, setting up clubs and all sorts. So I’ve always had energy in that sense. I’m a morning person, early morning person. So I wake up at six o’clock, and I by 10 o’clock, I could have done a day’s work, I’m not very good at this time of the day, which is half past three, you have to excuse me.
Vicky Browning 26:57
I dread to think about how you are like the mornings, you’re terrifying!
Yvonne Field 27:02
But also, I am not very good at healthy sort of sports and all of that. I’m not, that’s one of my I suppose Achiles heels, but I do like to travel and to… theatre and music and dancing and all those sorts of things. So I do find those, those kinds of activities give me real joy. Another thing is in terms of energy and sort of being involved, having done so many things over a career of 40 odd years, I do feel incredibly privileged to have been able to do the things that I want to do in this world. You know, I know there’s, you know, billions of people who have to do things just to survive. And, you know, being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you’re kind of always thinking about, you know, what you need to do, there’s no nine to five, you know, but I think I also have quite a strong sense of vision. I can envisage things quite, I’ve got, in my mind, I can see things quite clearly about what I need to do. I spent 15 years running my own management, consultancy and training company, which then ended up morphing into Ubele, that’s where the conversations went into work with a global consultancy, and I was curious about big social change and systemic change work, which kind of led me to thinking about sustainability of black communities in 2007/8/9, was when that sort of change came. So yeah, I’m much better at how I eat nowadays than I was, I mean, I love chocolate. Not very good for you, but being at Wolves Lane has been great, because when you are aound people to grow their own food and grow food for others, you cannot not be, you know, kind of enthused and impacted by, you know, you walk into a glass house that’s 100 foot long, and you just see all these tomatoes hanging and all sorts of things. And it’s just, it’s just, you know, you kind of, and we have a vegan chef who’s Caribbean and makes the most amazing food at least once or twice a week. So I find that I am eating much, much, much more healthier. And I think like, you know, I’ve totally cut down on meat, which being from a Jamaican family is sort of not what we do, but I have done, so it’s, I feel that I’m much better at looking after my body than perhaps I was three or four years ago.
Vicky Browning 29:14
Do you see yourself… is Ubele a, you know, is that just going to be part of your life forever? Do you see yourself moving on to other things? Do you… What do you feel is kind of in your future?
Yvonne Field 29:27
So I think one of the things that struck me and my colleagues, my old elder older colleagues, is that, you know, we did all this work in communities, facilitating change, developing innovative services, mobilising communities in the 70s 80s 90s to early 2000s. And a lot of that’s been documented in reports, but we didn’t actually write up our practice in a way that’s shared with others. So what we found with younger leaders is that, which we did the same thing, they quite often look into the States for models, and for inspiration and for ideas about how to facilitate social change, social justice, community development, even. So one of the things that I’m determined to do, if I have the energy and space is to see how we actually capture the work we’ve been doing under Ubele so that we can provide… You know, our model is very emergent and organic, but it’s also based on I mean, we’ve, you know, a body of knowledge that’s that we’ve, how we’ve worked in communities and also theories. I mean, I teach, I’ve taught at Goldsmiths, as I said, so drawing from theory, well, you know, one of my colleagues, younger colleagues, she uses the word term, which I’ve kind of stolen from academic. So being practical and academic, and it’s a theory and practice, actually, so one of the things that I want to do is to write, and to produce at least one book, I think I’ve got to write up what we’ve done, because I think it’s, you know, quite a unique example of practice that can be there for future generations to critique. And to, you know, to explore and to learn from, because I think that we missed a trick with what we’ve done. And I don’t say it’s not too late to write up our practice from the 70s, and 80s. But I think that we’ve kind of built on that significantly. And that Ubele is, I think, quite an interesting, and an example of work that I’m really proud of, I see it as my last major piece of work, although now we’ve got the Phoenix way, which is five years. So there’s that in tandem. And I’m actually spending three days a week on the Phoenix way as from this month. So that’s a parallel piece of work. And it’s very connected to Ubele because Ubele are the national conveners. But it is about this bigger transformational change, national transformational change agenda. So writing about the work is key for me to have in that time and space in the next couple of years. And then perhaps being able to teach. And, you know, I say teach, speak and mentor and kind of do that kind of more backroom work. So we do need in Ubele to create the, what I call, we’ve got the young emerging leaders group that we’ve got, and that’s sort of 18 to 30 age group. But I’m really keen that we develop the middle in group which is 30 to 45. You know, we’ve got quite a lot of experience, but actually, actually take over Ubele, because one of the things that I would like, yes, organisations have lives. So sometimes an organisation life is over. And I think an organisation if it’s going to continue has to keep developing or redesigning itself and doing that sort of backroom development, research, inquiry workers to you know, so that it can be module and respond to what the needs are, otherwise it will die, if it doesn’t do that. But actually, I’m also aware that organisations that I… I would like Ubele to be around after I’m not around if that, you know, that would that’s a big vision. But if it’s done its work, it’s done its work. I’m not holding on to organise this organisation for the sake of it, it’s about is it relevant? Is it needed? Is it innovative, actually, you know, and is it providing a much needed support to communities? And if it’s done all that, then it’s not needed. But I see myself in five years, six years, sort of shifting over to that kind of I said, definitely having written a book, if you know, and then but at least just supporting, being a bit wise in my older age, and, yeah, but leaving it to the next generation for sure. To take, pick up the mantle.
Vicky Browning 33:31
And do you feel hopeful? Because we’ve had, it’s been a traumatic time for so many people, as we’re, you know, coming into whatever else happens next, do you feel hopeful? Or is it just about keeping fighting? And where’s the balance of, you know, battling on or, or looking forward with hope?
Yvonne Field 33:50
You know, I’m, I’m a proverbial optimist, to be honest. I mean, that’s what’s kept, that’s also what gives me energy. Because if I thought that if it wasn’t going to change, if I thought it was all in vain I think I’d just stay in my duvet every morning, you know, and bound enough and getting on with work. And also I’ve I’ve had the honour and privilege of meeting such extraordinary younger leaders. Yeah, they’re just awesome. Absolutely awesome. So I’m really optimistic. And I was just talking to a colleague today, and we were talking about one of the one of the centres that was supported. And I said, you know, this is a 10 year project, we’ve done nearly five, it might be another five years, I’m not sure that I’ve got five years. He said, I’ve got 20 years, I was like, bring it on. I’m optimistic. We have to fight for social justice, that will always be on the agenda because we have an unequal world and I can’t see governments around the world being on it on any other trajectory that different to the one it’s on. So there will always be the need. I would hope not. But you know, it feels like there will always be the need for those that will interrupt systems and intervene on behalf of those who have less voice and have less power than those that make the decisions, you know, although I’m an optimist, I’m not naive to think that, you know, we’re gonna have this utopia. So my sense is that yeah, there’s another generation just behind me and there’s a generation behind them who are gonna fight the good fight and I just hope that I can be their cheerleaders in the years to come.
Vicky Browning 35:22
Fantastic. That’s a really nice place to to end our conversation. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you, Yvonne, thank you very much for sharing, you know, your, your, where you’ve been and what you’re doing and how it’s all going. It’s been lovely to chat to you.
Yvonne Field 35:36
I enjoyed the conversation, even though it’s a quarter to four in the afternoon. But it’s been great. Thank you for asking me.