Last week I took my place in the House of Lords, a position that gives me the chance to speak out on issues of social justice – a cause I have spent my adult life fighting for. Having just left Government, I also have a new day job, returning to the Centre for Social Justice as its Chief Executive. In both of these roles I want to tackle the root causes of poverty, learning from the hundreds of small, community-based, poverty-fighting charities that are turning lives around in our poorest areas.
A little over 11 years ago The Centre for Social Justice was founded on a very simple principle: whilst policy chiefs in Westminster might be struggling to find new ways to reduce poverty, someone somewhere is solving the problem. Whether it’s helping low income families stay together through tough times, supporting addicts to finally get clean or helping children from poor households to do well at school, one of the hundreds of front line poverty fighting organisations will be solving a problem government thinks unsolvable.
In a little under a month the Westminster village will pay tribute to hundreds of these small poverty fighting organisations at The CSJ Awards ceremony – the annual highlight of the CSJ calendar. The objective of the Awards is to bring to the Westminster village and recognise the best and most effective of front line organisations, and in front of a 500-strong audience of politicians, journalists, key influencers and opinion formers say – Look – this is what works out there. The CSJ’s goal over the coming years is to give a voice to these organisations – no issue is too hard to tackle or impossible to solve and the answer is out there. At the CSJ Awards in November we will thank those doing what others thought impossible: permanently turning lives around in some of our poorest communities. A truly bold Government would look to these local communities for the solutions to the root causes of poverty.
My conservatism has always been about individuals coming together to change things for the better, looking to local communities for solutions to big problems. The CSJ awards will shine a light on the organisations that do just that. We should be as passionate about social entrepreneurs solving problems in their communities as we are about entrepreneurs creating wealth and jobs. Government is at its best when it learns from what works, takes on the cause of social justice, and speaks and acts on behalf of the most vulnerable.
The Centre for Social Justice is unique amongst UK think tanks in having a nationwide network of charities and voluntary organisations engaged in improving lives in some of our poorest communities, these groups feed into our research and policy making, giving them a real voice in Westminster.
In the coming years I hope to use my voice in the House of Lords and leadership of the CSJ to promote a Social Justice Conservatism which looks to small, local poverty fighting groups for the solutions to our biggest social issues and helps translate them up onto a national stage.
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post website