Adeela Warley: What is the role of communications in uniting rather than dividing?

Inclusive conversations move us beyond argument to establish new social norms and drive change

Adeela Warley

Even as politicians claim they are listening and committed to uniting the people, their communications still seem set on sowing division.

Away from the political bubble, life in the real world relies on listening rather than telling – of creating space for others to be heard.

Nuance and tolerance might be more than political loyalists can bear, but it is both real life and the lifeblood of charities seeking to solve root-cause problems.

In the face of the divisive narratives of the so-called culture wars, charities on the front line successfully responded with principled messaging and bold conversations.

There is no shortage of great examples, but here are just three.

Climate Outreach UK created a toolkit called Britain Talks Climate to support any organisation that wants to positively engage the public on climate change, working against a backdrop of what is often a polarised debate.

Changing Faces created its Stop the Stare campaign, which helped people with visible differences to share their powerful experiences and the impact that staring had on their mental health.

And the Trussell Trust created a safe space for people to share their cost-of-living stories in an attempt to increase understanding and highlight the need for change.

Inclusive conversations allow us to build consensus and move beyond argument to establish new social norms and unite for change.

As the think tank More in Common says: “We believe in the power of stories, of a ‘bigger us’ to counter the appeal of efforts to divide societies into ‘us versus them’.”

Politicians, take note.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms


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