Adeela Warley: Charities are not afraid to think or act differently to solve problems

Just as vaccines are developed through different expertise, societal problems will be solved by people with differing skills and insights

In an era of apparent division, the pandemic has brought people and professions together in new ways to solve problems and meet needs.

Furloughed cabin crew pampered health workers in cosy lounges, chefs cooked for the hungry and homeless, and musicians played for those needing a lift on their doorstep.

Would these people have met in "normal" times? Perhaps.

But just as the much-anticipated vaccines are being developed by scientists with different expertise, the societal problems we face will be solved by people with differing skills and insights drawn from across professions and disciplines.

The archaeologist and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts talked on the BBC’s The Life Scientific with infectious enthusiasm about the move in university research departments to bridge the divide between science and the humanities, synthesising ideas and valuing different perspectives to facilitate rapid research.

It’s a lesson many charities are also adopting, creating new staff structures, and committing to a mindset of collaboration in recognition that it’s not about us, it’s about our audiences, their needs, and their experiences.

The Children’s Society has a new directorate uniting all external functions, and Save the Children UK is organising around the customer journey.

Positive change is afoot.

Charities had an A-to-Z of issues on their plates pre-pandemic, but the crisis has underlined their vital role.

I am confident they are not afraid to think and act differently to help solve the problems they exist to tackle, and to use a multi-disciplined approach to harness the best ideas and catalyse the kind of breakthroughs needed in the years ahead.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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